1. Has the FDA studied Tattoo Inks?

The FDA has limited information about tattoo inks. However, the FDA is examining tattoo inks and pigments to see if they contain heavy metals, contaminants, degradants, toxic chemicals like coating agents, microbicides and pH stabilizers, and other substances that may not be tolerable in the human body. For example, some reports claim tattoo ink has pigments that can be found in car paint and printer toner.

 2. Should I be concerned about a tattoo from a non-sterile needle or the actual ink?

Actually you should be concerned about both of them. It’s no surprised that people can get infections from non-sterile needles, but some people get infections from the ink itself because of contamination from invading mold and bacteria when the ink was made or while the ink was in the tattoo shop. When the ink itself is the culprit, it’s often due to using non-sterile water to dilute the ink (but it’s sometimes due to other reasons).

You can’t tell if ink is safe just by smelling it or looking at it. If the ink was improperly made from the manufacturer, it can be sealed or wrapped up and still be contaminated. So, you can’t just rely on a product label claiming it’s sterile when the ink could have gotten contaminated at any point in the making of it.

 3. What reactions are common (and not so common) after getting a tattoo?

Some people have a fever after getting a tattoo, and some people may get some type of rash that looks like red patches or bumps. If you have anything more serious than that, you may have to get an antibiotic treatment for the infection, or it may require hospitalization or surgery.  A more serious infection will entail shaking, chills, sweats and a high fever. Your doctor will determine if your infection is serious enough to require more extensive medical attention.

4. How should I handle getting a reaction or infection from my tattoo?

As stated in the answer to question three, it is recommended you contact your doctor (or another health care provider) to determine the severity of your reaction.

Also, make sure you let the tattoo artist know about your reaction to the ink. That way, the tattoo artist can remove the contaminated ink and prevent using it again. Also, you may be able to get detailed information about the ink that may shed light on how to treat the reaction to it.

5.  Is it safe to use those do-it-yourself tattoo inks and kits?

Unless you are a licensed tattoo artist, you might not have the right training to apply your own tattoo, which may leave you open to a high risk of contamination and infections. Also, there have been a lot of reports of allergic reactions to the inks and kits commonly found online.

6. Are there any long-term effects of having a tattoo?

The FDA and many other organizations are doing continuing research on the effects of tattoo art. However, many unanswered questions about tattoos are still not being addressed with the ongoing research. For example, most research going on today does not consider the long-term effects of the ingredients (including the contaminants) found in tattoo ink.

Another issue when considering the effect of tattoo pigments concerns what happens when the tattoo is removed via laser treatment. To date, research has shown that there is some scaring that occurs after tattoo removal, but other effects are yet to be verified.

7. What’s the bottom line?

Always consider the previously stated information before getting a tattoo. It does not matter about how advanced technology is because it still hurts and causes scarring to get a tattoo removed should you change your mind about keeping it.

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