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BMJ Case Rep. 2010; 2010: bcr0920092277.
Published online 2010 October 7. doi:  10.1136/bcr.09.2009.2277
PMCID: PMC3029274
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Severe type IV hypersensitivity to ‘black henna’ tattoo

Abstract

A 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl presented with a 9-day history of an extensive pruritic, erythematous, papulovesicular skin eruption to both forearms. Appearance was 5 days following application of a home-made henna preparation. Examination revealed ulceration and scabbing along the whole henna pattern and early keloid formation. A diagnosis of type IV delayed hypersensitivity reaction superimposed by infection was initially made. As in this case, home-made henna preparations commonly combine commercial henna with black hair dye, paraphenylenediamine (PPD). PPD, widely known as ‘black henna’, darkens the pigment and precipitates the drying process. PPD is a potent contact allergen associated with a high incidence of hypersensitivity reactions. Despite treatment the patient was left with extensive keloid scarring in the pattern of the henna tattoo.


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