Tattoo Health Risks

Tattoo is an artwork which is created by injecting the inks or dyes into the dermis layer of the skin. Tattoos have been prevalent since pre-historic period and people belonging to different regions wore tattoos for reasons ranging from therapeutic, decorative, spiritual to identification. Since tattooing involves piercing the skin of the body, it may lead to risks like allergies and infection

Risks involving tattoos

  • Allergies: Tattoo allergies could be due to latex gloves used by tattoo artist, tattoo dyes or inks, particularly red and green inks, used, 'A&D' ointment used by tattoo artist to cover the tattoo when it is finished and henna tattoos which have para-phenylene diamine (PPD).

Presence of metals like nickel, cobalt, mercury and cadmium in the tattoo inks may lead to allergies among people. If you are already suffering for skin problems like eczema, the problem may aggravate after you get tattoos.

'A&D' ointment, which comprises of cod liver oil and other ingredients, could also lead to allergy if you are allergic to cod liver oil. PPD in henna tattoos may lead to swelling and itchiness in the tattooed area. Your body may even become hyper-sensitive to PPD and you may not be able touch things that have been dyed with PPD.

Itchiness, redness in the tattooed area, swelling, irritation, raised bumps and Pus formation in the tattooed area are some of the symptoms of the tattoo allergies

  • Infections Fungal infections, cellulitis, tetanus, impetigo, herpes simplex, leprosy and staph are some of the skin infections which can be caused after the tattoo is made. A skin infection generally happens when the machine used for tattooing is not sterilized properly, tattoo parlor is dirty and unhygienic and tattoo artist doesn't maintain personal hygiene and doesn't follow the after-care instructions.

Some of the symptoms of tattoo infection are inflammation, swelling, tender skin and pus or bloody discharge in the area where you got tattoo engraved. If you get fever and are feeling the pain in the area even 48 hours after the tattoo procedure, it means that you have to go to doctor for his advice.

  • Blood-borne health risks If the machine, needles or inks used for tattooing is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract blood-borne health risks like Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, typhoid and HIV, which may lead to AIDS.

Hepatitis C infection, which affects the functioning of liver, could be passed from one person to another through needles and inks which are reused for clients. At present, Hepatitis C cannot be cured and can prove fatal for the victim.

HIV Infections too can be caused due to use of tools which are either unsterilized or improperly sterilized. It can also be transferred if the HIV-infected tattoo artist pricks his hand accidentally while engraving the tattoo.

Precautions to be taken to Reduce the Health Risks of Tattoo

  • If you are allergic to latex gloves, inform the tattoo artist in advance so that he can look for alternative gloves. If you are allergic to PPD in henna tattoo, it is advisable that you refrain
    from getting henna tattoo on your body.

For checking the allergic reaction to inks or dyes, you can conduct a skin test before going in for a full-fledged tattoo. Ask your tattoo artist to put a small spot with the dye or ink you intend to use for your tattoo on your skin. Keep it for 24 hours. If you don't notice any rashes, itchiness or swelling in the spot area, you can go in for tattoo.

  • It is important that youdo research beforehand on different tattoo parlors and are familiar with the procedures used to sterilize the equipment so that no one can fool you.
  • You must ensure that the tattoo parlor or studio where you are getting your tattoo done is a clean and sterile one. You must ensure that proper procedures are followed for sterilizing equipment used to engrave tattoos.
  • You must also ensure that tattoo artists maintain full personal hygiene and wear latex gloves.
  • You must ensure that tattoo artist uses a separate disposable sterile needle for every client. They should also put the small quantity of fresh ink in disposable containers which could be used for a single client.
  • You should strictly follow the aftercare precautions to negate any risk of getting infection.

Tattoo does make a style statement but you should not ignore the health risks associated with tattooing.  It is advisable that you take precautions to prevent from getting infected or allergic reactions and enjoy the attention coming your way due to the tattoo.