Henna adornments pose skin damage risks

HENNA, renowned for its ornate designs and cultural significance, has become increasingly popular among individuals seeking temporary body art.

The art of henna has been an integral part of Muslim culture for centuries, especially during auspicious occasions, including Eid el-Fitr and Eid el- Kabir. Originating in the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and South Asia, henna, also known as mehndi, holds deep cultural significance for Muslim women.

During the recently concluded Eid-el-Kabir celebration, numerous Muslim women were seen embellishing their hands with exquisite henna patterns. For them, this practice serves as a means to enhance their inherent beauty and express their cultural heritage.

According to a Henna artist, Laila Mustapha, many women eagerly seek various henna designs to elevate their appearances, particularly during significant events like Salah. As a result, her schedule becomes remarkably busy during these occasions.

“Eid period is always a rush of excitement and creativity for me. With the influx of ladies wanting henna, it can be hectic, but seeing their faces light up when they see my designs makes it all worth it. It’s a time of connection and celebration, and I’m grateful to be a part of it through my art,” Laila said.

A Muslim lady who preferred to remain anonymous revealed her motivations for using henna tattoos. She said she employs henna to enhance the aesthetics of her hands, particularly when attending events or during special festive occasions.

“For me, it’s majorly for beautification. I use it during weddings, family parties and festivals”, she said.

Henna-adorned hands reflect cultural heritage and serve as a visual celebration of unity and shared traditions. However, the use of henna may have unintended consequences, leading to skin damage.

Henna reaction on a lady’s hand
Henna reaction on a lady’s hand


Rashes as a result of henna reaction on a lady’s hand
Rashes as a result of henna reaction on a lady’s hand

These images are evidence of the skin damage caused by henna adornments. Redness, itching, swelling, and blistering are just a few of the potential side effects reported by individuals who have had negative experiences with henna application.

A lady who got a skin reaction from using henna shared her experience with The ICIR.

“I realised I’m allergic to hydrogen peroxide, so I asked the lady that made mine when I noticed the weird growth on my skin, and she said it had hydrogen peroxide in it,” she said.

She explained that she immediately visited a pharmacist who provided her with an allergy medication. Although the medicine she received stopped the itching and pain, it took some time for the spots caused by the reaction to disappear fully, even after trying other medications.

Another lady who also shared her experience with The ICIR recounted that she decided to get henna done after seeing it on her friend’s hand and finding it beautiful. However, when she did hers, she could not find the person who did it for her friend, so she ended up going to someone else.

A few days later, she began experiencing intense itching and developed an extremely bothersome rash on her hands. Seeking relief, she visited a pharmacy where she received a topical solution to apply. Her anxiety escalated when she was informed that the rash spots might be permanent.

“I was even more scared when I entered the bus on my way back from work, and some ladies told me that the spots from the rash would be permanent,” she added.

According to her, it took approximately a month for the spots to completely clear up after the constant use of different medicines.

In an interview with The ICIR, Adekeye Adeola, a medical doctor in the Dermatology Unit at the National Hospital, Abuja, emphasised that the henna dye derived from the henna tree, scientifically known as Lawsonia inermis, as well as ordinary henna, is predominantly natural and not inherently hazardous. In fact, these substances offer several benefits.

“Henna, especially natural and pure henna has some benefits: it has anti-inflammatory properties, and reduces blemishes and dark spots on the skin. It can also be used as a camouflage for some skin conditions,” Adeola said.



    But she warned that the henna dye can harm the skin when combined with other substances.

    “When other substances like coal tar or strong oils like cloves or eucalyptus oil are added to it to preserve it and make it long-lasting, it can cause allergic reactions leading to redness, itching, burning sensation, swelling, blisters and eventual scarring of the skin,” she added.

    She advised individuals who experience adverse reactions after using henna to seek prompt medical attention from a dermatologist for proper and effective treatment. Additionally, she strongly recommended promoting the use of pure henna.

    “The use of pure henna should be encouraged. A test dose is important before each application; the individuals applying the henna should always do so with gloves,” she advised.

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    1. The primary cause of bad reactions to henna is HAIR DYE. Many commercial products include synthetic hair dye to create an instant stain, usually black. Natural henna is never black, and reactions to natural henna made from the henna plant are nearly unheard of.


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