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Tattoos – Side Effects, Complications, and Safety Measures

Tags: tattoo skin

Tattoos have been in trend more than ever these days. It is a form of body art in which the required image is made through inserting the ink in the dermis layer of your Skin by using a needle attached to a handheld machine. Tattoos have become a fashion trend, or to say a form of self- expression due to its growing popularity, especially among the youngsters. According, to the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan fact tank of America, almost four of every 10 people born after 1980 have at least one Tattoo on their body. Although Tattoos have grown a lot in terms of popularity, there are many health issues related to them that cannot be ignored. Some even question “Can Tattoos Cause Skin Cancer ?” for which there are no answers yet.

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Side Effects of Tattoos

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Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a body which regulates such colorings, approves the use of only 60 of such inks in tattooing. Although these inks are just recommended for external use, their use under skin is still not suggested. The sad thing lies in the fact that not even a single government of the world has also tried to examine the safety of such inks so far. These can cause a number of health problems which includes some of the following.

Allergic Infections – The dyes used in tattoos can cause skin rashes at the tattoo site which leads to a lot of irritation. These skin rashes further cause allergies that sometimes become chronic.

Blood Borne Diseases – Sometimes the equipment used for tattooing gets contaminated with the blood of an infected person. This can lead to blood borne disease such as hepatitis, tetanus and even deadly disease like Aids.

MRI Complications– Tattoo pigments can cause complications in the quality of image during your Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examinations. Occasionally, it can also cause swelling or burning in the affected area.

Scarring – Tattoos may scar your skin tissues. Human body has a natural tendency to remove any foreign substance injected in it. So, your body would also attempt to remove the inserted foreign substance i.e. ink, which leads to bumps or small knots around the tattoo.

Skin Discoloration– There are greater chance of skin discoloration if you have a sensitive skin. The part of your skin where tattoo is done is discoloured permanently. Even though this discoloration fades away over a period of time but it is never healed completely.

Tattoo Infections

Getting a tattoo is not simple like walking into a park and enjoying the cool shades of tress. You need to be very particular about your choice of getting a tattoo. And what becomes more significant is how you care for it afterwards. Your skin is very prone to viral or bacterial infections after you get a tattoo. All you just need to do is maintain proper cleanliness, if it is not preserved; you may come across various tattoo risks and infections which can even turn into life-threatening disease. You should always keep a close watch for tattoo infection signs for preventive measures.

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What Causes Tattoo Infections?

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There are various causes of tattoo infections. But you are at a higher risk of getting these infections if your artist uses unhygienic apparatus and inks. Tattoo inks health risks are also enormous if good quality ink is not used. Other causes which lead to tattoo infections are discussed below.

Inflammation – As the skin is affected, a fresh tattoo usually has a bit of swelling accompanied with a pinkish color around it. However, if it starts turning red, lay your clean hand over it and check if it’s considerably warmer than the rest of the skin. If it continues to radiate heat for more than 3 days, seek immediate MEDICAL ADVICE!

Swelling – A slight amount of swelling is normal in case of a fresh tattoo. But if swelling becomes excessive, uncomfortable and you feel the pain radiating beyond the site of the tattoo, then this is a sign of infection. If left untreated, swelling may begin to spread out.

Discharge – All fresh tattoos leach as the skin begins to heal itself thus producing a clear liquid that normally dries up to re-cover the open wound. In some cases, this leaching doesn’t stop even after the estimated 48 hours and begins to produce yellow or greenish pus. ATTENTION! You got an infected tattoo.

Foul Odour – Sometimes your tattoo starts emitting a foul smell due to the action of anaerobic bacteria on it. If your tattoo begins to stink, don’t hesitate to have it looked at by a professional.

Fever – Fever is the most common symptom of an infection. However, it is common to those whose bodies were tired, stressed and are generally not in good condition while getting the tattoo. Don’t panic as fever goes away within 48 hours of tattooing. But if it’s there even after the approximated time, it’s best to seek medical help.

Red Streaks – At times, red streaks are visible at the original site of your tattoo which indicates blood poisoning. These could be really fatal if not treated at proper time.

Swollen lymph nodes – Swollen lymph nodes signify that the immune system of your body is fighting an intruder. Check for swelling in the nodes that are closest to the tattoo and if it’s there consult doctor immediately!

Quick Home Remedies For Tattoo Infection

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In most of the cases you may have to consult a doctor for Tattoo infection treatment caused by infections but you may follow these home remedies in case of a minor infection.

  • Minimal bleeding on the tattoo can be stopped by just applying a little pressure. Consult a doctor only if the bleeding continues for more than 2 days.
  • Applying a cold pack on the tattoo site could help to reduce swelling or irritation. However, direct contact of ice with the infected area is prohibited. You must put a fabric between ice and your skin.
  • Antihistamines such as Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton, Claritin etc. can be taken orally to treat the initial symptoms of allergy and rashes.
  • You must protect your fresh tattoo from dirt and dust to reduce the risk of infections. Cover it with a bandage or you can apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly such as Vaseline.
  • Expose your tattoo to open air rather than keeping it bandaged for a longer duration of time as fresh air helps to heal your wound more quickly.

Do not take Aspirin if you are aged less than 20 years without the prescription of a doctor.

Tattoo Safety Measures

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You must keep these questions in mind to make sure your tattoo is applied safely-

Who Does the Tattooing?

Check for a good tattooing studio that employs only properly trained professionals. Your studio must follow the regulation requirements and licensing standards of your state.

Does the tattoo artist wear gloves? Ensure that the tattoo artist washes his or her hands and wears a fresh pair of gloves before tattooing.

Does the tattoo artist use proper equipment? Make sure the tattoo artist removes the needle and tubes from sealed packages before the procedure begins. Any equipment with defective parts should not be used.

Does the tattoo artist sterile non-disposable equipment? You have to be confident about the fact that your tattoo artist uses a heat sterilisation machine to sterilise all non-disposable equipment between different customers. Though, there are some instruments that are sanitised with a commercial disinfectant or bleach solution as they don’t work with the machine.

How To Take Good Care Of Your Tattoo?

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Here are some things you must follow if you got a tattoo. Generally you will have to-

Maintain proper hygiene– You must keep your tattoo clean but avoid direct contact of stream of water on it. A plain soap, water and a gentle touch is just what is required for your new tattoo.

Use a mild moisturiser- Apply a moisturiser to the tattooed skin to avoid itching.

Avoid exposure to Sun– You need to keep the tattooed area away from the Sun for few weeks.

Avoid swimming– Stay out of pools, hot tubs, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water while your piercing is healing.

Wear loose clothes– Smart clothing is needed for at least few weeks. Don’t wear anything that might stick to the tattoo.

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Tattoos – Side Effects, Complications, and Safety Measures


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