Atomic Kitten pop star Natasha Hamilton is backing a campaign to #AvoidBlackHenna as summer approaches.
She has joined the British Skin Foundation in warning the public of the dangers of so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos (BHTTs) after her son suffered a reaction earlier this year.
When she returned home from a holiday in Morocco, six-year-old Alfie was left with a scar on his leg where his design had been.
Natasha said: “I am backing the British Skin Foundation's #AvoidBlackHenna campaign as there needs to be a greater awareness of the potential permanent dangers posed by black henna tattoos.
"Sharing my photograph of Alfie's scarred leg will hopefully highlight these dangers and act as a warning to parents who might not know the risks attached to these so-called temporary 'black henna' tattoos.
"Having witnessed first-hand Alfie's terrible reaction to black henna, it’s just not worth the risk of permanent damage and letting your children have one done at home or abroad.”
The majority of BHTTs are not based on henna at all, but a substance called para-phenylenediamine (PPD) which is found in hair dyes.
PPD is allowed for use in hair dye, but its use for skin contact products such as temporary tattoos is illegal in the European Union.
When PPD is used on the skin in this way it can cause blistering, painful skin burns and may even lead to scarring.
It can also leave the person with a lifelong sensitivity to PPD, which increases the risk of a severe allergic reaction when using hair dye in the future.
Research among dermatologists in 2015 revealed that they were seeing an increase in reactions at their clinics across the UK.
* Four out of 10 dermatologists asked had seen patients with skin reactions to BHTTs.
* One in 20 dermatologists approached said that over 80% of the BHTT reactions they had seen were in children aged under 16.
* Dermatologists asked confirmed that around half of the patients got a BHTT outside the EU, where the legal status of PPD is not always clear; however the other half got a BHTT within the EU, with 27% in the UK.
* About two-thirds of dermatologists approached have seen an increase in patients with reactions to hair dyes, many of whom have previously had a BHTT.
Consultant dermatologust Dr Anjali Mahto, of the British Skin Foundation, reinforced the findings, saying: “Black henna is well known to cause skin reactions and should be treated with caution, particularly in children.”
Dr Christopher Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association, added. “The message is clear: having a ‘black henna’ temporary tattoo presents a significant risk of a very nasty adverse reaction to the tattoo itself.
"It also increases the risk of either not being able to use most hair dyes in the future or having a bad reaction to them if the warnings are ignored.
"Most importantly, parents will want to safeguard their children this summer by steering clear of so-called ‘black henna’ temporary tattoos.”