Toni Feeney, 30, was enjoying a family getaway to Morocco when her children asked if they could get a Spider-Man web and a dragon on their arms. Believing it was just a bit of harmless fun, Toni agreed.
But she was unaware they dye was black henna – a chemical that can cause dangerous burns and in some cases permanent scarring. Her two sons suffered a severe reaction and which caused the designs to melt into their skin.
Posting on Facebook to warn other parents, Toni said: “This is what black henna can do to your skin! We let our children have them on holiday not thinking for a second it would be dangerous.
“The hospital have said that the chemicals/dyes in black henna are too strong. They now have chemical burns and are on antibiotics and antihistamines in the hope that they don’t get infection or get poorly. If you are offered it say NO!”
Toni, of Colne, Lancs, added: “I’m gutted! Wouldn’t have gone near it if I’d have known. I just presumed it was harmless. Feel so bad, didn’t even know black henna was dangerous. There were loads of people offering it too. It makes me so mad how many people are doing it over there. The docs have said not to put anything on them, once it’s started to heal I’ll try something, maybe bio oil.”
The post has been shared hundreds of times, with Carrice Dickinson commenting: “Oh my god that’s horrendous! Hope they make a speedy recovery poor boys.”
Helen Feeney added: “That looks painful. It has the same chemicals in as hair dye only in much higher strengths. Lethal stuff so i hope they will be OK.” The family had been staying at the three-star all-inclusive Caribbean Village Agador in Morocco last month. It’s believed the henna tattoos were done nearby.
The NHS warns against having them done while abroad, with their website saying: “If you see a shop or stall offering to paint black tattoos onto your skin, don’t be tempted to get one. It could leave you scarred for life and put you at risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
“Often called “black henna” or “neutral henna” tattoos, these patterns painted onto your skin are readily available abroad. But the black paste used in these temporary tattoos may contain high levels of a chemical dye so powerful and toxic that it is illegal to use it on the skin in this way.”
The risks of black henna lie in the paste’s ingredients – specifically a chemical called PPD.
Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, explains: “PPD is safely and legally used in permanent hair dyes where clear instructions are given, and where the maximum level is controlled by law. But black henna often contains PPD at high levels, to give a dark colour quickly.
“When applied to the skin in the form of a black henna temporary tattoo, PPD can cause chemical burns and lead to allergic reactions.”
Last month, mum Jade Morris, 26, of Oldbury, West Mids, revealed how her two children were scarred for life after getting henna tattoos done in Tunisia. She’d also been unaware that the dye used on her eight-year-old son River-Jae and daughter Farah, five, was black henna.
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