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Potential Health Risks of Tattoos

Written by Courteney

Posted on April 27, 2016 at 12:02 am

A tattoo is a permanent drawing on skin created by a tattoo gun inserting ink pigment into the dermis (second layer of skin) through a series of tiny punctures made by the gun’s needle. Your body treats a tattoo as a wound for good reason – because it is one! As with any wound, a tattoo comes with certain risks, however, is possible to minimize those risks to create safer tattooing circumstances.

Medical tattoo risks include:

  1. Allergic reactions: It is rare, but possible to develop an allergic reaction to tattoo ink (especially glow-in-the-dark, red, blue, green and yellow dyes). Reactions are generally localized to the tattooed site consisting of prolonged itching and discomfort. In some cases, these reactions can occur up to years after acquiring the tattoo.
  2. Skin deformities: more common than reactions, skin issues such as keloids (permanently deformed skin bumps from abnormal scar tissue) or granulomas (inflamed patches of raised skin) can develop on the tattoo from trauma to the dermis (lower layer of skin).
  3. Skin infections: If the tattooing environment or equipment is dirty or unsterile, a nasty skin infection can develop from the tattooing process, most likely from contaminated surfaces or equipment. As with any infection, an infected tattoo can cause unpleasant symptoms such as fever, pain, tenderness, nausea and skin lesions. If not properly treated the infection can become a serious health problem and ruin the appearance of a tattoo as well.
  4. Blood Diseases: If a tattoo is performed under unsafe conditions (re-used needles) it is possible to contract a serious blood disease from the contaminated needle such as hepatitis C or tetanus.

How Can You Minimize These Risks?

While it is possible to minimize the risks of the aforementioned complications, you can’t entirely eliminate risks like infection or skin deformities. If you show signs of infection or an allergy, be sure to contact your doctor or one of our highly qualified DocChat physicians today for medical advice. Some things you can do to lessen your tattoo-related risks are:

  1. Ensure you choose your tattoo artist wisely. Are they reputable and safe? Do research, look at the artist’s work as well as reviews about customer experiences. Even meet with the artist for a quick “interview” to see if they are right for you.
  2. Check out the artist’s workspace. This is almost as important as choosing a safe and responsible artist, ensuring their workspace is clean as well. Your skin will be particularly susceptible to germs since a tattoo creates a wound, so surfaces should be clean and clutter-free.
  3. Get your artist to do a “patch test” on your skin with the ink colors that are most closely associated with allergic reactions. If the small patch of color bothers your skin, you will know you can’t go ahead with the tattoo. This can save you immense discomfort.
  4. Ensure your artist washes their hands, puts on a new set of gloves and opens the needle in front of you so you can see that it is sterile. Never get a tattoo from a random person in a party setting who uses the same equipment on everyone. This is one way to contract serious diseases and possibly wind up with a terrible tattoo.

The Importance of Aftercare

If your tattoo is finished off without a hitch, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. It is vital to take tattoo aftercare seriously and stick to the rules to ensure you don’t develop an infection and to ensure it heals properly and safely. These measures include:

  • Keep the area clean with light soap and warm water (dab it on, don’t rub and dab the area dry with a clean towel afterward).
  • Regularly apply moisturizer which contains gentle ingredients.
  • Avoid using petroleum products on your tattoo as it heals.
  • Do not submerge your freshly tattooed area in any kind of water (fresh or chlorinated) for a few weeks until it is healed, this could invite bacteria into the wound.
  • Cover your tattoo against sunlight for a few weeks as it can cause fading of the new ink as well as burn the wounded area which would further aggravate it and delay healing.
  • Don’t pick scabs or scratch your tattoo, bacteria from your fingers can get into the wound, or you may open the wound up which can also delay or complicate healing.

The Bottom Line

Tattoos are very popular for good reason, they can be an excellent means of self expression but it is important to understand the risks involved in getting tattooed, and practice necessary precautions to ensure it goes as well as it possibly can. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee if you take all the necessary safety measures that you won’t develop complications, so you will have to weigh the pros and cons before proceeding.

Thanks for visiting! We hope you return again soon.

 

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