Girl, 3, ‘scarred for life’ after henna tattoo of cat is left burned on her arm

A heartbroken mother has warned people about the dangers of getting a henna tattoo after her daughter was left with horrific chemical burns that erupted into blisters and scarred her for life.

Freja Ellis, three, was on a family break in Antalya, Turkey, when her mum Marlana treated her to get a black henna tattoo.

But shortly after arriving back in the UK, Freja complained the cat design – which stretched from her wrist to her elbow – was itchy.

The design erupted into a series of painful blisters and then became infected.

The 32-year-old mother said: "My little girl has been scarred for life after getting what I thought was a harmless black henna tattoo.

"She has been covered in blisters and in so much pain. It’s been heartbreaking."

"We were entirely unaware of the dangers and want to make sure other parents know what can happen so this doesn’t affect other children."

Nurse Marlana said her daughter had been begging for a tattoo after seeing older kids with them.

She said they ‘seemed really clean and tidy’ and because Freja’s arm was wiped with an antiseptic wipe beforehand she wasn’t too worried.

She said after they got home Freja began to complain of an itching and burning sensation just days later.

Single mum-of-one Marlana from Herne Bay, Kent, said: "We’d been home for about three days when Freja said: ‘Mummy, my arm, it’s warm and it’s itching me. It hurts.’

"I had a look, but there was nothing visible to the naked eye so I gave her some Calpol as she had a bit of a temperature and decided I’d give it until the next day to see if she’d improved.

"But when Freja woke up the next morning, she was in tears and a nasty blister had started to appear.

"She was constantly itching it and had very red, raw blisters full of fluid on her arm."

Marlana rushed her daughter straight to the local minor injuries unit, the Queen Victoria, in Herne Bay, Kent and the doctor explained that black henna had been used which contains chemicals which can burn the skin.

A chemical called para-phenylenediamine, or PPD, is added to henna to make the tattoos darker and increase their lifespan. While PPD is present in many products, such as sun cream and hair dye, it is usually used in very small doses.

The addition of PPD into henna is now recognised as a public health issue, as this allergenic chemical often causes hypersensitivity reactions in children.

Three days after the initial diagnosis, Marlana took Freja back to the GP to have her wound re-dressed as fluid was seeping through the bandages.

The nightmare got worse when Marlana was told her daughter’s wound was infected and she was given a course of antibiotics.

Now the infection has cleared up doctors are trying to get Freja’s arm to scab over and heal.

"I just don’t want any other families to go through what we have," she said.

"Freja’s tattoo will most definitely scar as the burn was quite deep – hopefully it will fade in time – but it will definitely leave a mark.

"I want to make people aware because so many children have them done on holiday.

"Freja’s going to be scarred for life – she’ll forever have a cat on her arm."

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