My three-year-old girl is scarred for life after henna tattoo BURNED her skin on holiday

Marlana Ellis, 32, from Herne Bay, Kent, was on a family break in Antalya, Turkey when she treated daughter Freja to the design at a local shop.

But shortly after arriving back in the UK, Freja complained the cat pattern – which stretched from her wrist to her elbow – was itchy.

The design erupted in a series of painful blisters, which then became infected – leaving Freja with disfiguring scars.

"My little girl has been scarred for life after getting what I thought was a harmless a black henna tattoo," Marlana said.

"She has been covered in blisters and in so much pain. It's been heartbreaking.

"We were entirely unaware of the dangers and want to make sure other parents know what can happen so this doesn't affect other children."

Nurse and single mum Marlana said she had a great holiday with her young daughter and her mum Julie, 56, and that Freja had been begging for a henna tattoo.

"Freja was desperate to get one as she'd seen older kids running around with them," she said.

"I tried to put her off as much as I could, as I really didn't want her to get one, but she'd been so well behaved that on the day before we left I decided to treat her.


"We went to a nearby barber shop as they were doing henna tattoos. Freja flicked through the book of designs and chose a cute picture of a cat sitting down.

"The shop seemed really clean and tidy and the man who did the tattoo even wiped Freja's arm with an antiseptic wipe beforehand, so I wasn't too worried.


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"It took 10 minutes to complete and then we had to wait 10 minutes for it to dry – she was totally made up with it and it wasn't until we got home that we realised there was something wrong."

Just days later Freja began complained of an itching and burning sensation on her arm.

Marlana said: "We'd been home for about three days when Freja said, 'Mummy, my arm, it's warm and it's itching me. It hurts.'

"I had a look, but there was nothing visible to the naked eye so I gave her some Calpol as she had a bit of a temperature and decided I'd give it until the next day to see if she'd improved.

"But when Freja woke up the next morning, she was in tears and a nasty blister had started to appear.

"She was constantly itching it and had very red, raw blisters full of fluid on her arm."

Marlana rushed her daughter straight to the local minor injuries unit at the Queen Victoria Hospital.

"We saw the duty doctor and I showed him a picture of the tattoo when it had been done,” she recalled.

"Straight away he identified it as black henna. I didn't realise it was different to any other type of henna.

"He explained it contains chemicals which aren't meant to be used and told me that it'd burnt her skin.

"I was shocked when he diagnosed it as a chemical burn. He dressed it with a wet dressing to cool it and gave her antihistamines for the itching."

A chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, is added to henna to make the tattoos darker and increase their lifespan.

While PPD is present in many products, such as sun cream and hair dye, it is usually used in very small doses.

The addition of PPD into henna is now recognised as a public health issue, as this allergenic chemical often causes hypersensitivity reactions in children.

Holiday souvenirs that can leave you permanently scarred…

Black henna tattoos have become fashionable as a temporary, but realistic looking, form of body art.

They are readily available abroad and are sometimes offered in the UK at festivals and fairs.

However, the NHS warns these tattoos can contain high levels of toxic chemical dye, which it is normally illegal to use on the skin.

The paste contains an ingredient called paraphenylenediamine (PPD). In the EU, this chemcial can legally be used in hair dyes – but not for tattoos.

Dr Chris Flower, director general of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association, explained: "When applied to the skin in the form of a black henna temporary tattoo, PPD can cause chemical burns and lead to allergic reactions."

In extreme cases, black henna tattoos can lead to swelling, blistering and permanent scarring of the skin.

Black henna tattoos can also increase sensitivity to PPD, meaning you could have a serious allergic reaction to legal hair dyes.

Three days after the initial diagnosis, Marlana took Freja back to the GP to have her wound re-dressed as fluid was seeping through the bandages.

Freja returned a week later to be checked over and doctors discovered the wound was infected.

"Freja was given a course of antibiotics for 10 days," Marlana explained.

"After she'd finished her antibiotics it was then redressed again and we were told the infection was clearing up.

"Now they've just taken off her dressings to try and get it to scab over and heal as much as possible."

Now Marlana wants to warn others of the danger of black henna tattoos.

"I just don't want any other families to go through what we have," she said.

"Freja's tattoo will most definitely scar as the burn was quite deep. Hopefully it will fade in time, but it will definitely leave a mark.

"I'd had brown henna tattoos done as a child and they were absolutely fine. The doctor said they sometimes use black henna abroad because it's cheaper for them to purchase.

"I want to make people aware because so many children have them done on holiday.

"Freja's going to be scarred for life."

Earlier this year mum Toni Feeney spoke of her horror after her two young sons were left with painful chemical burns after getting black henna tattoos on holiday.

Mum Jade Morris, 26, of Oldbury, West Mids, also revealed how her two children were scarred for life after getting the tattoos done in Tunisia.

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