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  • Writer's pictureNitika Mehra

Tattoo: Health Risks of Tattooing

Updated: 7 days ago

A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.

Tattoos fall into three broad categories:

  • Purely decorative - with no specific meaning

  • Symbolic - with a specific meaning pertinent to the wearer

  • Pictorial - a depiction of a specific person or item

The art of making tattoos is tattooing. But as it requires breaking the skin barrier, tattooing carries health risks including infection and allergic reactions. It can be uncomfortable to excruciating depending on the area and can result in the person fainting. Infections that can theoretically be transmitted by the use of unsterilized tattoo equipment or contaminated ink include surface infections of the skin, fungal infections, some forms of hepatitis, herpes simplex virus, HIV, staph, tetanus, and tuberculosis.

Tattoo: Health Risks of Tattooing

Tattoo inks have been described as "remarkably nonreactive histologically". However, cases of allergic reactions to tattoo inks, particularly certain colors, have been medically documented. This is sometimes due to the presence of nickel in an ink pigment, which triggers a common metal allergy. Occasionally, when a blood vessel is punctured during the tattooing procedure, a bruise or hematoma may appear. Certain colours - red or similar colours such as purple, pink, and orange - tend to cause more problems and damage compared to other colours. Red ink has even caused skin and flesh damages so severe that the amputation of a leg or an arm has been necessary. If part of a tattoo (especially if red) begins to cause even minor troubles, like becoming itchy or worse, lumpy, then Danish experts strongly suggest to remove the red parts.

Modern tattooists reduce risks by following universal precautions working with single use items and sterilizing their equipment after each use. Many jurisdictions require that tattooists have blood-borne pathogen training such as that provided through the Red Cross and OSHA. As of 2009 (in the United States) there have been no reported cases of HIV contracted from tattoos. But as per saying, precaution and care is always better than anything. So take proper care of your sensitive skin after tattooing.

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