'That's when we started to worry': Man's tattoo regret after boy's trip to Bali

Just a day after a Sydney man got a tattoo in Bali his skin flared up, causing a serious infection which landed him in hospital.

Tom Birkin was with his friends in Bali, when the group decided to get temporary henna tattoos on their faces. His friends had no adverse reaction to the tattoo, however Mr Birkin wasn’t so lucky and had a terrible physical reaction to the henna.

Mr Birkin told Nine News that within in a day the area where the henna tattoo was applied flared up, which resulted in him having to go to hospital.

“It took about a day and a half to flare up and that's when we started getting worried,” Mr Birkin told Nine News. “Doctors said that it could have affected my eyesight.”

Photos taken at the time show swelling and red, irritated skin where the tattoo was administered.

A Sydney man regretted his decision to get a henna tattoo in a popular tourist spot. Source: Nine News.

An investigation conducted by Nine News found many vendors operating out of Kuta were using black henna, instead of real henna, which contains paraphenylenediamine (PPD), a chemical which as many as one in five people may suffer an allergic reaction to when applied to the skin.

Henna tattoos are popular as they are painless and last from 12 days up to a couple of months.

According to the Government of Western Australia Department of Health, it is illegal to use black henna on a client in Australia.

“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 department website says.

Traditional henna tattoos are safe and temporary, unlike black henna tattoos, which can be extremely harmful. Source: Getty Images.

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.

Black henna is cheaper than true henna, and is generally easier to access, according to Nine News. Of the five samples collected from Kuta Beach vendors during Nine’s investigation, four reportedly contained PPD.

Doctors say a concentration of more than one per cent is harmful, and the concentrations found in the samples was more than 12 per cent.

A eight-year-old girl from South Australia still has the scars from her henna tattoo months ago. Source: Nine News.

Mr Birkin isn’t the only Australian who has been afflicted by the harmful henna.

It took five days for an eight-year-old girl’s henna tattoo to start burning. Madison Gutschlag’s mother Erin told Nine her daughter was applying ice packs to the area just to get some relief.

The scar remains almost two months after the henna was applied.

Authorities in Bali will start educating operators in Bali about the dangers of black henna tattoos, following the Nine News investigation, according to the outlet.

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