Contact dermatitis with severe scalp swelling and upper airway compromise due to black henna hair dye

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2011 Aug;27(8):745-6. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0b013e318226df18.


Temporary tattooing with black henna is known to cause contact dermatitis; however, this adverse effect is not considered to be life threatening. We report a female adolescent who used black henna as a hair dye and developed severe contact dermatitis with scalp, facial, and neck swelling causing hoarseness and stridor. A flexible bronchoscopy showed a normal epiglottis, and the patient was intubated, ventilated, and eventually recovered. We conclude that the use of black henna hair dye in sensitized patients can be life threatening.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Edema / complications
  • Edema / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hair Dyes / adverse effects*
  • Hoarseness / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Naphthoquinones / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Scalp Dermatoses / etiology*


  • Hair Dyes
  • Naphthoquinones
  • lawsone