p-Phenylenediamine (p-PD) - When temporary tattoos go bad

  • aromatic amine dye present in most hair dyes
  • added to henna paste to create "black henna", which is intended to make henna tattoos appear darker in order to create the classic black ink tattoo look
    • henna (Lawsonia alba/inermis) is a flowering plant that contains lawsone, a red-orange dye that likes to associate with protein, meaning that it will effectively dye protein-containing things like skin, hair, nails, leather, silk, etc.
    • the leaves of the plant, which contain the highest concentration of lawsone, are dried, ground into a powder, and then mixed with a weak acid (like lemon juice) to release the lawsone and create a paste, which is then applied to one's skin to produce a nifty tattoo
  • contact allergen, meaning that it causes allergic stuff to happen once you, er, come in contact with it
    • reactions are usually mild, consisting of things like pruritus (itching), dermatitis, erythema (redness), and edema (swelling)
    • reactions can be treated with topical steroids and oral antihistamines, but may result in altered skin pigmentation and even permanent scarring
    • p-Phenylenediamine also causes this thing called sensitization, which means that subsequent exposure to it or to other things containing similar aromatic amines (certain inks, dyes, and drugs) can cause a more severe reaction
  • is colourless in its fully reduced state, becoming coloured only as it becomes oxidized
    • it's the partially oxidized stuff that can cause allergic reactions, as neither the fully reduced nor fully oxidized forms appear to do much of anything
  • has been shown to be strongly mutagenic by the Ames test, able to induce DNA damage by the Comet assay and alter expression of proteins associated with cancer phenotype, suggesting it may cause cancer
    • the use of hair dyes has been weakly linked to bladder cancer, although similar studies have failed to find such an association
  • many of those who are dealing with drug addiction and alcohol abuse look to addiction treatment to aid in their recovery, and there are treatment centers all over the country that can help
- Gulen F et al. Urticaria and angioneurotic edema due to the temporary henna tattoo. Minerva Pediatr. 2006 Dec;58(6):583-5.
- Huang YC et al. p-Phenylenediamine induced DNA damage in SV-40 immortalized human uroepithelial cells and expression of mutant p53 and COX-2 proteins. Toxicol Lett. 2007 Apr 25;170(2):116-23. Epub 2007 Mar 1.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henna
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-Phenylenediamine

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