I am a fan of henna tattoos. Acck. If there isn’t a lot of restrictions placed on people with permanent tattoos, I’ve probably already have one etched on my back. Anyway, I can’t recall how many times I’ve had a henna tattoo. I never had an unpleasant experience with them, so I am confident that every time I get one, it would turn out okay. My latest experience with henna tattoo is a totally different story.
I got two tattoos when we went to Laiya last April 25: one on my nape and one on my right let. Miko and two of “cousin-in-laws” also had tattoos. My tattoos were okay for more than a week. The one on my nape was fading faster. However, last Monday, I felt weird bumps on my nape. Look at what I found:
The ink was all gone but it left an ugly red scar that follows the shape of the tattoo. The tattoo on my leg is still intact but I’ve noticed that slight signs of red swells too:
The scar on my nape was also a bit itchy and stingy. I asked Miko if he had the same experience on his tattoo, he said no. I did some researching and it turns out I might have paraphenyldiamine (PPD) allergy.
PPD is a chemical added to henna to make it appear darker and for the ink to last longer. Natural henna should be dark orange to brown. It turns out that adding PPD to natural henna should not be practiced for the chemical can cause severe allergic reactions in some people. In fact, it is even banned in some countries. PPD is also a potent mutagen and a person exposed to very high concentrations of PPD can suffer serious health consequences. I also learned that more and more people are complaining about allergies resulting from henna tattoo where in fact in natural henna should be actually safe to use.
I am advised by my officemates to go a dermatologist, but I refused to do so because most of them might not be even aware of PPD and because I feel they will just loot money from me. Besides, there is no cure to PPD allergy. It will stay in my bloodstream for the rest of my life. Antihistamines and topical ointments are often prescribed to alleviate the swelling and itchiness. I read several journals and found that hydrocortisone ointments might do the trick. I bought one and started applying them yestrday. Thankfully, the swelling already subsided.
So what do I get from my PPD allergy? A lifelong allergy on chemical dyes. I have to think twice before getting a henna tattoo or having my hair dyed for it might result to severe allergic reaction. I also have to be careful with black dyes, black ink, PABA-containing cosmetics, medicine with sulfonamides and sulfones, and anything with paraphenyl content.
My case was still a mild one. I am hoping that the scar will disappear in time. I read that in some cases the scar becomes permanent. Wah! It’s like I am branded with the symbol of an effing gang! I guess I can kiss my penchant for tattoo goodbye. Ha. So much for being a chemist. Damn irony. The next time you’ll get a henna tattoo, think again.