Identification and quantification of para-phenylenediamine in a temporary black henna tattoo

Am J Contact Dermat. 2002 Mar;13(1):15-8. doi: 10.1053/ajcd.2002.30466.


Background: Temporary black henna tattoos are very popular as body adornment. Although contact allergy to natural henna is unusual, the inclusion of hair dye, p-phenylenediamine (PPD), increases the risk of contact sensitization.

Objective: This study was performed to identify the presence and concentration of PPD in a black henna tattoo mixture to which our patient developed contact allergy.

Methods: The presence of PPD in a black henna tattoo mixture, various samples of commercially available henna powders, and several hair dye products was qualitatively and quantitatively detected using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Results: This study demonstrated that PPD was present in the black henna tattoo mixture at a concentration of 15.7%, which is significantly higher than commercial hair dye preparations.

Conclusion: The presence of PPD in black henna tattoo mixtures in high concentration poses a health hazard and a risk of allergic contact sensitization with potential long-term consequences.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm
  • Back
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Coloring Agents / adverse effects*
  • Coloring Agents / analysis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Naphthoquinones / adverse effects*
  • Naphthoquinones / analysis
  • Patch Tests
  • Phenylenediamines / adverse effects*
  • Phenylenediamines / analysis
  • Tattooing / adverse effects


  • Coloring Agents
  • Naphthoquinones
  • Phenylenediamines
  • lawsone
  • 4-phenylenediamine