Health Risks of Tattoos

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A tattoo is a permanent mark or design made on the skin by inserting pigments into the skin’s top layer by pricking.  Usually indelible inks are used.  The word “Tattoo” comes from from the Tahitian word “Tattau” which literally means “To mark”.  Tattoos are mainly used for decorating the body.  It may take several hours to create a large tattoo.  It is painful.  Tattooing as an art has been practised from centuries all over the world.  Tattoos are popular among today’s teens and young adults.  

Tattoo health risks:

There are many health risks of tattooing as it involves needles and blood.  Tattoos breach the skin.  Tattoos may cause skin allergy in people who may be allergic to ink.  Today’s tattoos are made of organic dyes, plastics and metallic salts like oxides, sulphides and selenides.  Some of them are not even approved by the authorities.  Some colorants are believed to contain cancer causing aromatic amine.  

There are cases where people have suffered from skin infection after getting a tattoo.  Most of the time it is characterized by swelling, redness, pus and pain.  This is mainly caused due to use of either unsterilized tattoo equipment or due to contaminated ink.  Tattoos may also lead to formation of keloids (tissue overgrowth) .     Herpes, tetanus, staph and fungal infections are other health risks of tattoos.  

People may also suffer from dangerous syphilis, hepatitis (B and C), tuberculosis or even HIV (AIDS causing virus) infections due to carelessness of the tattooist.  Some blood vessels may be punctured while tattooing.  Granuloma (bumps) is another health risk of tattoos.  MRI studies are found to cause burning and swelling of tattoos due to metal components in the ink.    

People who wish to have a tattoo should ensure that they are visiting a professional tattooist.  Professional tattoists charge a little more.  But it is safer to visit them.  They should also be aware that removal of a tattoo is a painful and expensive process.  Governments all over the world should regulate tattoo parlors.  A lisencing system should be inroduced. Tattooists without lisence should not allowed to operate. Tattooists, as responsible individuals, should take adequate safety measures.


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