Tattoo Safety

Tattoo Safety

The word tattoo, or tattow in the 18th century, is a loanword from the Polynesian word tatau, meaning “correct, workmanlike”.

There are varieties of tattoos depending on the art- Black and Gray Tattoos, Color Tattoos, Portrait and Fine-line Tattoo, Tribal Tattoos, Freehand Custom Tattoos, Cover-up, Touch-up, and Rework Tattoos. Tattoo artists and parlors across the country follow a strict set of regulations in order to prevent infections and transmissions of diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis. Leger, however, believes that the tattoo inks artists use are not closely monitored. Tattoos can be allergic to many.

“During 2003 and 2004, FDA became aware of more than 150 reports of adverse reactions in consumers to certain permanent makeup ink shades, and it is possible that the actual number of women affected was greater. The inks associated with this outbreak were voluntarily recalled by the company that marketed them in 2004. In the spring of 2012, FDA received reports of infections from contaminated inks, resulting in their recall and market withdrawal. In addition, concerns raised by the scientific community regarding the pigments used in tattoo inks have prompted FDA to investigate their safe use”.

Tattoo pigments & colors: The oldest pigments came from using ground up minerals and carbon black. Today’s pigments include the original mineral pigments, modern industrial organic pigments, a few vegetable-based pigments, and some plastic-based pigments. Allergic reactions, scarring, photo toxic reactions  and other adverse effects are possible with many pigments. The plastic-based pigments are very intensely colored, but many people have reported reactions to them. There are also pigments that glow in the dark or in response to black (ultraviolet) light. These pigments are notoriously risky – some may be safe, but others are radioactive or otherwise toxic.

Following are some reactions that can happen to people by tattoo.

Symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Flaking
  • Scaly appearance
  • Rash or bumps
  • Purple or red nodules around the tattoo

Reactions:

Acute Inflammatory Reaction: Most people who get a tattoo experience an acute inflammatory allergic reaction. This is when the skin becomes red, irritated and mildly swollen after coming into contact with the tattoo needle and the ink. This is not a serious allergy and will often subside after two to three weeks.

Dermatitis: Tattoos are also known to cause allergic and photo allergic contact dermatitis. Similar to an acute allergic reaction, dermatitis often starts out as an irritation and swelling of the skin, followed by severe itchiness. The allergies then develop into blisters and crusting or flaking of the skin. Dermatitis is often caused by red tattoo ink because it contains mercury sulfide.

Photo sensitivity: Tattoos created using yellow ink sometimes get irritated when exposed to direct sunlight. This is because of the cadmium sulfide used in most yellow and some red tattoo inks.

Granulomas: These are nodules that may form around material that the body perceives as foreign, such as particles of tattoo pigment that contains red, green, purple and blue inks.

Other severe reactions from tattooing:

  1. Allergic reactions: Red dye in particular can cause allergic skin reactions resulting in itchy rashes even years after getting a tattoo. It is true that some red inks used for permanent tattoos contain mercury, while other reds may contain different heavy metals like cadmium or iron oxide.
  2. Skin infections: Tattooing can lead to local bacterial infections characterized by redness, swelling, pain and a pus-like drainage.
  3. Blood-borne diseases: If the equipment used to create a tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, various blood-borne diseases including hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus and HIV can be contracted. Unsterile tattooing equipment and needles can transmit infectious diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis, and skin infections caused by Staphylococcus aureus (“staph”) and other bacteria
  4. Damage to nerves: There is a possibility of the loss of the sense of touch in the area pierced.
  5. Keloids: Thick scarring at the piercing site can cause keloids, which is nothing but raised scar tissue due to excessive skin damage.

Before getting a tattoo or piercing, make sure to check off the following safety measures:

  • Always find out whether the tattooing studio is trustworthy and has properly trained and certified employees.
  • Make sure the studio and staffs are very clean. If they have body piercing in their business, tattooing and body piercing should be in separate areas.
  • Make sure the studio uses an autoclave to sterilize the instruments.
  • Make sure the artist washes his or her hands and wears a fresh pair of protective gloves for each procedure.
  • Check whether the artist removes needles and tubes from sealed packages before your procedure begins and the needles should be opened from sealed packages and thrown away in a bio hazard container after the use and in front of you.
  • The ink used in tattooing should be taken in a disposable cup and be disposed after use. It should never be taken directly from the bottle or returned to that bottle.

Care for reactions:

Contact your physician immediately if you find any of above symptoms.

  1. If, your tattoo artist has given any instruction follow that carefully.
  2. Stop any bleeding: By putting pressure on the wound.
  3. Apply a cold pack to help reduce the swelling, bruising, or itching. Never apply ice directly to the skin. This can cause tissue damage.
  4. Take an antihistamine, to help treat hives and relieve itching. Be sure to read and follow any warning on the label. Do not use strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals, which can make itching worse.
  5. Protect your tattoo with a bandage to avoid any further irritation.
  6. Apply an antibiotic ointment to avoid infection.
  7. Apply a clean bandage once a day and change the bandage if it gets wet
  8. Expose tattooed area to good air/ Sun so that the skin will breath fresh air and warm temperature to heal.

References:

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