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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Temporary Tattoos

May 7, 2015

Summer vacation is on the way.  Time to pack your swim suit, hit the beach, and perhaps indulge in a little harmless fun.  How about getting a temporary tattoo to mark the occasion? What’s the harm? Just because a tattoo is temporary, however, doesn’t mean it’s risk free. Some consumers report reactions that may be severe and long outlast the temporary tattoos themselves. The risk varies, depending on what’s in the ink.

Natural Tattoo Removal

June 23, 2013

Laser tattoo removal is very painful, more painful than getting a tattoo. People who go this route often say it feels like hot oil is being sprayed on the area. Tattoo removal does not have to be painful and many tattoo removers on the market can help get rid of tattoos in a pain-free way. Additionally, tattoo removal creams are far more cost efficient than laser tattoo removal which can cost thousands of dollars.

When looking for a tattoo removal cream, there are some key features to consider. First and foremost, it is important to know if it is safe to use. Tattoo removers should use ingredients that are safe and effective and lacking in side effects or adverse reactions. Another aspect of high quality tattoo removal creams is the use of Chromabright. Chromabright is an ingredient that has been proven to make tattoos fade away, it is also a very versatile ingredient in that it can be used risk-free on all skin types.

Removing Tattoos

June 1, 2013

That tattoo on your arm of a former flame—the one that seemed like a great idea years ago—is kind of embarrassing today. And your spouse is not too crazy about it either.

You may not know that FDA considers the inks used in tattoos to be cosmetics, and the agency takes action to protect consumers when safety issues arise related to the inks.

At the other end of the tattoo process, FDA also regulates laser devices used to remove tattoos.

FDA has cleared for marketing several types of lasers as light-based, prescription devices for tattoo lightening or removal. A Massachusetts company recently received FDA clearance to market its laser workstation for the removal of tattoos and benign skin lesions.

According to a poll conducted in January 2012 by pollster Harris Interactive, 1 in 8 (14%) of the 21% of American adults who have tattoos regret getting one. And the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery (ASDS) reports that in 2011, its doctors performed nearly 100,000 tattoo removal procedures, up from the 86,000 performed in 2010.

Unfortunately, removing a tattoo is not as simple as changing your mind.

Artists create tattoos by using an electrically powered machine that moves a needle up and down to inject ink into the skin, penetrating the epidermis, or outer layer, and depositing a drop of ink into the dermis, the second layer. The cells of the dermis are more stable compared with those of the epidermis, so the ink will mostly stay in place for a person’s lifetime. Tattoos are meant to be permanent.

An effective and safe way to remove tattoos is through laser surgery, performed by a dermatologist who specializes in tattoo removal, says FDA’s Mehmet Kosoglu, Ph.D., who reviews applications for marketing clearances of laser-devices.

With laser removal, pulses of high-intensity laser energy pass through the epidermis and are selectively absorbed by the tattoo pigment. The laser breaks the pigment into smaller particles, which may be metabolized or excreted by the body, or transported to and stored in lymph nodes or other tissues, Kosoglu explains.

The type of laser used to remove a tattoo depends on the tattoo’s pigment colors, he adds. Because every color of ink absorbs different wavelengths of light, multi-colored tattoos may require the use of multiple lasers. Lighter colors such as green, red, and yellow are the hardest colors to remove, while blue and black are the easiest.