A Harris Poll from 2015 confirmed something we already knew, which is that tattoos are more popular than ever, with roughly 29% of people surveyed saying that they have at least 1 tattoo. With this popularity comes an increase in infections caused by contaminated ink or from a reaction to the ink. This is according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Reports of adverse reactions to tattoos have been flowing into the FDA, with a total of 363 coming between 2004 and 2016.
What is More Concerning? Unsafe Practices or the Tattoo Ink
You should probably be concerned about both. Unsafe practices include the use of equipment that has been improperly sterilized, with infections often coming from mold or bacteria on said instruments. Some tattoo shops also use non-sterile water to dilute the pigments, but that is one of many potential offenses.
There is no easy way to tell if an ink is safe to use. Contamination may still occur even when the container is sealed and marked as sterile.
What is Used to Make Tattoo Ink?
Research has revealed that pigments used in car paint or printer toner sometimes show up in tattoo ink. No pigments used for injection into the skin have been approved by the FDA.Consumers and healthcare providers are who commonly reports adverse reactions to the FDA, but they may also hear from state authorities who regulate tattoo shops.
What Reactions can be Expected after Getting a Tattoo?
Redness or a rash may be present in the area where you were tattooed, and you may also experience a fever.
If the infection is more severe, you may experience chills, shakes, sweats, and a very high fever. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection, and may take months of treatment. You may also find yourself in a hospital for surgery. All of this may be a sign of an allergy to the inks, and as they are permanently in your body, the reaction may continue unabated.
Is There the Potential for Scar Tissue after a Tattoo?
There is a definite chance of scar tissue forming, or perhaps small bumps or knots known as granulomas. The latter is a sign that your body views the ink as being a foreign object. People prone to keloids (scarring beyond normal boundaries) may also develop a reaction.
Can Tattoos make MRI’s Uncomfortable?
People who have had a tattoo sometimes complain about a swelling or a burning sensation when they have magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although these cases are rare and the symptoms short-lived. Make you MRI tech aware of your tattoos before the procedure.
Are DIY Tattoos and Ink Kits Safe?
DIY kits are perhaps the most unsafe way for consumers to get a tattoo. Allergic reactions and infections are common, simply because consumers may not be aware of all the things they need to do to avoid contamination.
Could There be Potential Long-Term Problems?
The FDA and other agencies are still researching the long-term effects that may come from pigments, contaminated inks, and other sources. The FDA has received reports of people experiencing issued shortly after being tattooed, as well as some from consumers who did not experience issues until years later. Tattoos that contain phenylenediamine (PPD) may lead to you becoming allergic to other products.
There are also potential issues involved with the removal of tattoos, as very little is known about the consequences of breaking down pigments via laser treatments. What is known is that permanent scarring can occur after the removal of a tattoo.
What’s the Next Step if you Get an Infection after being Tattooed?
The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor.
Secondly, let your tattoo artist know about the infection, as it may be a sign that their ink is contaminated. Ask them to tell you the color, brand, and batch number of the ink, as getting to the source of the infection may help with treatment options.
The Permanent Removal of Tattoos is Not That Easy
Getting a tattoo should be considered a lifetime commitment, as getting tattoo removed after the fact is a long process that will likely leave you permanently scarred.