A mother claims she is ‘haunted’ by her decision to allow her seven-year-old son to cover his body with henna tattoos that left him with chemical burns.
Leanne Richardson, 31, let her son Owen, now eight, get the temporary inkings the night before they flew home from holiday in Salou, Spain, in August.
The excited youngster had a huge dragon outline and a paw print painted on his right arm while opting for a tribal design across his chest.
A week later, the black pigment flaked off and the schoolboy was left with burns that triggered an allergic reaction, causing welts to erupt all over his body.
Doctors said the burns were caused by paraphenylenediamine (PPD) – a chemical commonly found in henna and hair dyes – and that Owen may need skin grafts.
Leanne Richardson claims she is ‘haunted’ by her decision to allow her seven-year-old son to cover his body with henna tattoos that left him with chemical burns (shown)
Owen, now eight, is pictured getting the temporary inkings (shown left) and in hospital days later after the henna tattoos turned to burns (right)
Leanne, from Consett, County Durham, said: ‘We knew nothing about the dangers of black henna tattoos, when I finally Googled it my blood ran cold.
‘It broke my heart at the time knowing I allowed my son to be harmed in this way – it still does now and is an experience that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
‘He’d had them before in Florida and loved them and decided to have it done on the last day as he didn’t want it to come off in the pool.’
The family, including Owen’s father Chris, 32, brother Miles, now four, and grand-parents Lynne and Stuart visited a beach stall and paid 30 euros for three inkings.
Teaching assistant Leanne said: ‘Every time we walked past this place there was always someone there getting one done.
‘That night we were there first and he had a few done – two on his arm and one on his chest.
Leanne (left, with her son) is now urging parents not to allow their children to have black henna tattoos (right) done so that others do not go through the same as Owen
A week later, the black pigment flaked off and the schoolboy was left with burns that triggered an allergic reaction, causing welts to erupt all over his body (left)
‘The dragon took up most of his upper right arm and because it was so detailed it took around 40 minutes to complete.
When the mother-of-two discovered the burn on Owen’s skin two days later after the henna flaked off she took him to the pharmacy for over-the-counter treatment.
However less than a week later the burns started to weep and look infected so Leanne rang 111 and was advised to go to hospital.
Leanne and field engineer Chris rushed the youngster to University Hospital of North Durham’s A&E department.
What are henna tattoos and bindis?
Henna is a dye traditionally made up of ground up henna leaves and water, along with a few drops of essential oil or lemon juice.
It is painted on the skin in an intricate pattern and left on there for a day before it can picked off, staining your skin brown.
Natural henna is very safe, and is fine to use during pregnancy, depending on the essential oils it contains.
Black henna, however, comes with health risks as it contains a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD).
Henna is traditionally used for special occasions in India, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East.
A bindi is worn at the centre of the forehead by Hindu and Jain women.
The bindi, which is commonly used to represent a married woman, is considered to be a ‘third eye’ in the Hindu religion, and is believed to ward off bad luck.
There his blistered skin was dressed and covered in bandages and he was prescribed a steroid cream, a course of antibiotics and allergy tablets to tackle the infection.
However the next day Owen erupted in a ‘horrendous’ rash all over his body and was rushed back to hospital where he was admitted to the burns unit.
Burns specialists, a paediatric consultant and a plastic surgeon examined him and conceded that in the ‘worst case scenario’ Owen would need skin grafts.
Leanne said that although the burns never caused Owen any pain, he was left feeling self-conscious and kept his scars covered up with long-sleeved tops.
Leanne said: ‘Owen was fine health-wise but he wouldn’t take his t-shirt off even when it was hot, he was very self-conscious.
‘Normally he would just whip it off but for a long time after that, well into October, he didn’t want anybody to see them.
‘I had to tell his teacher about it and bought him a long-sleeved PE top. He was really affected it, but he’s ok now.
‘Now when I dye my hair he knows he can’t come near me in case it triggers another reaction. In worst case scenarios people can go into anaphylactic shock.’
Leanne is now urging parents not to allow their children to have black henna tattoos done so that others do not go through the same as Owen.
Leanne said: ‘Not everyone has a reaction to it but don’t take that chance, it’s really not worth that risk.’
Owen said: ‘I wanted to get the black henna tattoos because it made me feel grown up, I was excited about getting them done.
‘If anyone wants to get one done I would say definitely say no to having one, not after what I went through.’
The family, including Owen’s father Chris, 32, brother Miles, now four, and grand-parents Lynne and Stuart visited a beach stall and paid 30 euros for three inkings