Health

'It Was Just Disgusting': U.K. Teen Burned, Scarred By 'Black Henna' Tattoo

| by Jared Keever

A British teen says she has likely been scarred for life after a henna-style tattoo she had done while on vacation left the skin on her leg badly burned. 

Mary Bates, 16, of Hertfordshire, England, had been on vacation with friends in Turkey when she decided to get the temporary tattoo of a dreamcatcher on her leg, reports the Daily Mail. She had it retouched a week later, and just hours after that touch-up, she said, the tattooed area began to seep and swell.

Once home in England, Bates sought medical help.

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“Bits of my skin were coming off it was just disgusting as it looked like open flesh,” Bates said, according to the Daily Mail. “The burns doctors said it was the worst black henna injury they had ever seen.”

It seems that the distinction between “black henna” and the real thing held the secret to what was behind the burns. 

Traditional henna is actually reddish-brown and the ink used is made from a flowering plant, found in parts of Asia and Africa, according to a 2013 article from The Washington Post, warning about the dangers of “black henna.”

The black alternative is often found in tourist areas, at sidewalk tattoo kiosks. It can contain p-phenylenediamine, or PPD, a substance typically used in hair dyes that can cause skin reactions for certain people. 

The European Union strictly controls the use of PPD, according to the Daily Mail. Tests done on Bates’ burns reportedly revealed that they were caused by the chemical.

Doctors warned her she should now avoid black hair dye because she could be at risk of anaphylactic shock if exposed to PPD. 

Bates said she is now afraid the scarring and the exposure will be detrimental to her career goals. 

“I had aspirations to be a model in the future and I do enjoy it a lot so it's going to be hard,” she said. “It is not very attractive and I won't be able to have my hair done which they usually do in modeling.

“Who is going to pick me over a model with a normal leg?”

Sources: Daily Mail, The Washington Post

Photo Credit: stephanie carter/Flickr, Joel Schlessinger/Flickr