Tattoo ink: Adverse effects and precautions


Tattoos are a trend from the mid-1800. It is a form of self-expression-some get inked for inspiration and some for their partners. Are you thinking of getting a tattoo? Are you backing off because you feel it’s not safe? The answer to this question should be thoroughly researched before getting one to avoid regret. If you get a tattoo ink and want to remove it, then it is a more painful process than getting one.

Why does it hurt while getting a tattoo?

Tattoos are inks with various organic and inorganic compounds along with metals. The artist injects a needle into the skin. The machine runs at a speed of 100 injections per second. The artist inserts the needle carefully 1.5-2 mm into the dermis layer because the cells on the epidermal layer renew very frequently. At this rate, it just takes three weeks to degrade a tattoo.

For a permanent tattoo, the artists insert the needle into the dermal layer, which consists of blood vessels. When the needle punctures the vessels, they start to bleed out-Internal bleeding results in inflammatory responses. When the ink reaches the blood system, the host identifies it as foreign and starts degrading it. Although the host cells start acting against it, the degradation is partially successful in this process. The side effects include redness, swelling, and rashes.

What are the adverse effects of tattoo ink?

The ink used in a tattoo is not for human use. Print toners and car paints use this ink. The FDA does not approve of the use of this ink. However, the main risks include scarring, pigmentation, and allergic reactions due to the chemicals. Hygienic conditions are a must at the location. The contamination can cause various infections and diseases like Hepatitis A or B and HIV.

Studies on deceased with tattoos reported that 68% of ink disappeared. The ink may accumulate in other organs like the liver or degrade. Studies show that the lymph nodes are colored too. The ink particles are small and can migrate faster, reaching the closest lymph node. The particles accumulate in the nodes giving it the same color. This accumulation can suppress the immune system up to a small percent as it is the region where specific immune cells undergo maturation.

If the person has brain complications, then he should get an MRI frequently. Getting an MRI with a tattoo is very risky. The electromagnets can attract metals in ink, causing redness, swelling, and first or second-degree burns. If the ink is red, then the complications are more severe as it contains the metal Iron.

Various individuals fear the ink is carcinogenic. Even though different toxic chemicals are present in ink, there is no concrete evidence that the ink is carcinogenic.

What precautions should you take?

  • Select a professional healthcare certified studio. The officials check the environment of the place, but you need to make sure if the artist is professional too.
  • Ensure hygienic conditions at the location. If the needles are already used for other tattoos or customers, never go to that place again.
  • Make sure that the needles are sterilized. Look out for the needles that are new but are not cleaned.
  • Never step back to ask questions about the sterilization protocol they follow.
  • Make sure the artist wears a fresh pair of gloves.
  • After getting a tattoo, cover it for a minimum of 24-48 hr to avoid moisture in that area. Look out for contamination.
  • Avoid swimming and direct sun exposure while healing. Frequently apply moisturizer at the inked area.

Can you donate blood after getting a tattoo?

Yes, you can donate blood after getting a tattoo. It is advisable to wait before donating, to avoid the spread of infections. Some diseases go un-noticed for a couple of months. Hence, it is a precautionary measure to wait for 10-12 months. However, it is not a legal measure. Anyway, if you get it in a healthcare certified professional studio, then you don’t need to worry about the contamination and other issues.

How to remove tattoo ink?

Previously, the process of tattoo removal has been excruciating. They use the salt solution on the area and heat it to remove the ink. The primary consequence is scarring. The reaction is similar to alcohol treatment, whereas laser treatment is a less painful process. It finds the contrast between the skin tone and ink and degrades it. More is the contrast; easier is the removal.

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