LISA Anne Tapp and her family had just had a blissful holiday in Bali, a destination she loves - but things turned sour after they returned home.

While in the resort area of Nusa Dua, in southern Bali, she treated her six-year-old son Benjamin to a henna tattoo. However, shortly after getting back to Australia earlier this month, Benjamin suffered a reaction that may see him scarred for life.

Now, the Australian traveller is warning others of the dangers.

"Just thought I would put out a warning," Lisa said. "My family and I just got back from another amazing holiday in Bali. But a week after being home my six-year-old son started to break out on his arms and leg where he had henna tattoos done."

Lisa said the problem lay in the tattoo's black colouring, which indicates that chemicals were added to it.

Henna tattoo horror in Bali. Picture: Lisa Anne Tapp
Henna tattoo horror in Bali. Picture: Lisa Anne Tapp

"The tattoos were black and not brownish red," she said. "I have since found out that the black henna has nasty chemicals added to it. They add PPD (paraphenylenediamine) and even kerosene."

It's likely that the scars will remain, although there's hope they will fade over time.

"The hospital and doctors back home have told me that my son will more likely have permanent scarring on his two arms and leg.

"So please everyone enjoy the beautiful Bali and beautiful Balinese people but stay clear of any henna tattoos especially if they are offering in the black colour."

Lisa and son Benjamin. Picture: Lisa Ann Tapp
Lisa and son Benjamin. Picture: Lisa Ann Tapp

Lisa's warning comes after Chinese media reported that a 30-year-old man was taken to hospital days after returning from the Indonesian holiday isle. He had suffered a severe allergic reaction to a henna tattoo, with his arm turning red and becoming severely swollen.

Lisa has warned others of the risks. Picture: Lisa Anne Tapp
Lisa has warned others of the risks. Picture: Lisa Anne Tapp

Problems with dark henna tattoos in Bali are so common that our government has issued a warning, however many tourists remain unaware.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states in its travel advice for Indonesia: "Avoid temporary black henna tattoos which often contain a dye that can cause serious skin reactions."

It's not just Bali that has this problem either; cases have been reported around the world, including seven-year-old Madison Gulliver who was left with horrific scars after visiting Egypt, and Theo Luckett, 7, who was scarred in Bulgaria.

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.


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