Tattoo Health Risks

Published on January 19, 2014 by Jodie M
While tattooing has become common in modern society, there are a surprising amount of tattoo health risks that lie under their surface.  The most common method of tattooing is an electric tattoo machine that pierces the skin repeatedly and slowly injects ink into the skin. These tattoos are usually done without anesthetics and cause small amounts of bleeding. Due to the fact that tattoos pierce the skin and emit bleeding they are susceptible to harbor disease.
Both unsterile environments and equipment increase the chance of transferring diseases like HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis. This is why it is important to consider tattoo health risks. Also, since dyes are not regulated by the FDA, all of the ingredients vary by brand and may include metal deposits, anti-freeze, methanol, ethanol, and other harmful chemicals. Some of the following will shed light on many tattoo health risks.

Skin Infections 

  • Tattooing equipment that is unsterile can harbor and carry pathogens from one person to another.
  • Infections are characterized by redness, swollen and broken skin, pain, and pus secretions.
  • Metallic pigments may cause allergic reaction and can worsen with exposure to sunlight.

Bloodborne Diseases

Contaminated equipment can transfer blood-borne diseases. Some diseases are Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, tetanus, and HIV. Most of these viruses have no cure.

MRI Complications

There are reports of people experiencing pain, burning and swelling in the tattooed areas after undergoing MRI. Some tattoo pigments also distort MRI images because of certain metals present in the ink. While none of the MRI rashes or reactions are permanent, they should be noted and taken into consideration.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions to tattoos are common due to the various chemicals present in the ink. Some of the more common reactions are to nickel and red ink. Allergic reactions are problematic with tattooing because pigments are hard, if not impossible, to remove. There are some cases of people developing allergic reactions to tattoos they have had for many years.

Keloid Formation

Keloids are scars that grow beyond normal boundaries. If one is prone to keloids they are likely to develop one from a tattoo. Any form of trauma to the skin can trigger keloids, and micro-pigmentation is traumatic to the skin.

Tattoo Precautions

Do your research about your artist and think long and hard before choosing a tattoo.
Check gloves for tears before tattooing and make sure the artist changes gloves.
See that ink nozzles do not touch contaminated surfaces.
Please keep in mind that we are not trying to deter you from getting a tattoo. We strive to emphasize the importance of safe tattooing while reducing potential health risks.  By taking simple and necessary precautions we can minimize health risks and negative body art stigmas. 
Keep on inking!