MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Health Department is looking into a possible health risk associated with henna tattoos after about a dozen kids dealt with skin infections, staph, and possible scarring following getting tattooed at a party.
Eva Streitz is one of those kids.
She thought a henna tattoo would be a great way to mark the end of her eighth grade year.
Nearly all of her 56 classmates had the same idea when a henna artist was brought in for their graduation party.
“When she showed it to me, I thought it was awfully dark,” said Michelle Streitz, Eva’s mom.
Eva didn’t think twice about the stinging she felt when the ink was put on her hand.
“I thought it was normal, because it was happening to everyone,” Eva Streitz said.
In the days that followed, however, she and her mother realized something wasn’t right.
“It got on my face, and it spread.” Streitz said.
At about the time her daughter’s infection flared up, Michelle Streitz started hearing about other people’s kids having reactions to the tattoos.
The reactions ranged from inflammation to scabbing and blisters. Some students even had to be treated for staph infection.
An internet search of symptoms had Michelle Streitz wondering if the artist used black henna, which often contains a chemical (PPD) that can irritate skin.
“A lot of people mistakenly think that just because it’s natural it’s going to be safe, and that’s not necessarily true,” said Kirk Hughes, of the poison control center at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
“It makes me nervous, now, because we don’t know what’s in hennas,” Michelle Streitz said.
Most of the students have healed, but some are dealing with the possibility that something temporary may now be permanent.
“That would be terrible. When I go out, I like to cover it up, because it looks bad,” Eva Streitz said.
The henna artist told one of the mothers she did not use black henna. The artist was not available for comment.