Henna tattoos produced by painting the skin with a henna solution are generally considered to be a safe alternative to henna tattoos. Some parents are even happy to let their children have such body ornamentation. However, due to the use of dangerous additives, some henna tattoo can be associated with serious health risks, including severe allergic skin reactions, life-threatening systemic allergic reactions and even leukemia. In addition, even henna on its own can cause life-threatening destruction of red blood cells in people.
Using henna to produce elaborate decorations on the skin, an art form that is known by the term mehndi, is a long-standing tradition in Asian and Arabian countries. Traditionally it was used for ceremonial purposes such as weddings. From the 1990s, it has become increasingly popular among Westerners, both as a service offered in the West and as a tourist attraction.