Aussie dad's warning after Bali tattoo left son 'scarred for life'

Tourists have been dealt a stark reminder of a danger all too popular with holidaymakers.

An Aussie dad has issued a serious warning to others travelling to Bali after a henna tattoo left his teenage son "scarred for life".

Ben Gebbett, from Brisbane, travelled to the popular Indonesian holiday spot with his two sons Jaxon and Levi for an eight-day "action-packed adventure" this month. While there, 13-year-old Jaxon asked to get the popular temporary tattoo on his arm.

Mr Gebbett told Yahoo News Australia that he'd "never heard of the risks associated with henna tattoos" so he didn't think anything of it. But ten days after getting the ink on his arm they saw "redness and blisters appearing" and a noticeable scar forming.

Brisbane dad Ben Gebbett with sons Levi (middle) and Jaxon (left) in Bali.
Brisbane dad Ben Gebbett took his two sons, Levi (middle) and Jaxon (left), to Bali. Source: Supplied

"Jaxon experienced itching and burning and the entire area where the black henna was applied became completely blistered and irritable," he recalled. "At that point, I told my son to wash the remainder of the tattoo off."

Now, two weeks later, the worried dad has warned others about the issues associated with henna in a Facebook post showing his son's scarred arm.

"Just wanted to spread the warning of getting black henna tattoos whilst in Bali," he wrote on Monday. "My 13-year-old son got a tattoo 2 weeks ago. The attached picture is the result 2 weeks later... his skin is now scarred for life."

The worried dad told Yahoo he sought help from doctors who referred them to a skin specialist for ongoing treatment.

Bali henna tattoo scarring.
After two weeks with the temporary tattoo, a red scar has formed. Source: Supplied

Dangers of black henna

Mr Gebbett pointed out that his kids have had henna done before in Australia "at cultural events" and have never had a problem.

But black henna, unlike natural henna, contains paraphenylenediamine (PPD) – a chemical that as many as one in five people may suffer an allergic reaction to when applied to the skin.

"PPD is a toxic substance often used in black hair dye which causes the colour of the dye to be nearly black, much darker than natural henna," the Government of Western Australia Department of Health website says.

The website also says PPD can cause more than just blisters and scarring, but also sensitisation dermatitis, throat irritation, bronchial asthma, nausea, sore throats and light headedness.

The Smart Traveller website also warns visitors to avoid black henna tattoos.

"The dye often causes serious skin reactions," the advice reads.

Tourists getting henna tattoo on Bali beach.
The 13-year-old got the popular henna tattoo while staying in Seminyak, Bali earlier this month. Source: Supplied

Dad warns fellow travellers

While some admitted "we have seen this how many times now", seemingly aware of the ink's potential risks, the Brisbane dad stressed there still might be people like him who simply didn't know.

Mr Gebbett said his son's reaction left him feeling "pretty sh****" as a dad. "I tried to do the right thing as it's just me and my two boys... and I end up potentially scarring him for life," he wrote online.

"Hopefully my post will be helpful for others out there," he added.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.