HOLIDAY tattoos can cause lifelong allergies as they contain a harmful chemical linked to the death of a mum-of two who coloured her hair every month, a Coroner warned today.

And it was revealed at an inquest that Julie McCabe, 38, who worked as an estate agent in Bradford, suffered an increase in violent skin reactions after having a black henna tattoo while on holiday in Dubai in 2007.

Mrs McCabe, of Cowling, near Keighley, suffered a heart attack and went into a coma in October 2011 due to an intense allergic reaction which hit after she dyed her hair one more time.

She never recovered and died a year later.

Mother-of-two Mrs McCabe is thought to have been allergic to paraphenylenediamine (PPD) contained in a L'Oreal Preference dye

PPD is a man-made chemical which fixes colour to the hair and was at an application strength of only one per cent in that particular product - half the legal permitted potency.


But toxicology expert Dr David Basketter told the hearing in Skipton how the dangerous substance could enter the body in massive doses in the form of black henna tattoos and that while one per cent of the general population were moderately allergic to hair dye, that jumped to14 per cent when it came to the semi-permanent tattoos.

Coroner Geoff Fell said studies in Gran Canaria had shown concentrations of PPD as high as 64 per cent in black henna tattoo dye.

"If PPD is used insufficient strength, anyone would become allergic to it - everyone is susceptible," Mr Fell said.

"This stuff is extremely dangerous. We're talking about the artisan tattooists you see on the beach giving tattoos to tourists.

"These people need to be avoided like the plague - in fact, they are the plague."

Dr Basketter said: "I'd like to see an advert in every airport telling people not to get black henna tattoos - they can lead to allergies for life. If they're not illegal, they should be.

Brian Lightfoot, L'Oreal's senior manager for scientific regulatory and government affairs, said that it had well established systems for dealing with customer complaints and health issues.

He said there were allergy warnings, a customer care helpline and website plus advice to seek medical help on the box and instructions for the hair dye.

"We give a lot of information about allergies, because we take these things very seriously," Mr Lightfoot said.

The inquest continues.