Henna is a shrub in North Africa, India, Sri Lanka and other countries. An extract made from the leaves is mixed with other substances to make a dye that is used to make temporary tattoos. Some patients who get the tattoo will develop a contact dermatitis, which can be severe.


Plant: Lawsonia inermis

Family: Lythraceae


Risk factors for contact dermatitis:

(1) history of atopic dermatitis

(2) previous exposure to henna

(3) allergy to a component of the henna dye mixture


Para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical commonly found in henna dye mixtures to make the process faster and the color darker. It is a potent sensitizer for contact dermatitis in affected patients. Patch testing to PPD can confirm the sensitivity.



(1) persistent hyper- or hypopigmentation

(2) allergy to cross-reacting compounds in hair and/or clothing dyes


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