A Wearside woman is backing calls for holidaymakers to avoid getting black henna tattoos while enjoying trips abroad after her grandson was left scarred for life by one.
Atomic Kitten pop star Natasha Hamilton has this week spoke out in support of 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 from a holiday in Morocco, six-year-old Alfie was left with a scar on his leg where the design had been.
The news brought back bad memories from Michelle Greavees after her grandson Callum Carr suffered burns to his body while on a break with his mum Ashley in Antalya, Turkey.
Callum got a SpiderMan-style web inked onto his chest by an artist who was working at the hotel he was staying at.
But on return to his Plains Farm home, he began to feel unwell.
Michelle, 47, said: “When Callum came back from holiday he came to stay with me.
“I think it was the first time anyone in the family had had a Henna tattoo and he started complaining about a pain in his chest.
“I just took him down to A&E and you could see it was burning through his skin.”
Callum, now 11 but aged five when he got the tattoo, was then put on a saline drip by medics and given antibiotics to help him recover after being admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
“It was starting to get infected by the time he got treatment so it’s a good job we went down so he could be looked at,” added Michelle.
“He’s got a scar now so he’s been left damaged by it.”
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.
Michelle is now in agreement with singer Natasha that people should steer clear of getting black henna tattoos.
“I wouldn’t advise anyone to get one,” said Michelle.
“It seems so harmless to get tattoos but sometimes it isn’t.
“It’s really fashionable at the minute and the kids see adults with them and want one.
“But I’d tell parents that they should say no because it’s not worth the risk.”