The art of inking the skin is not a modern art form. People have been inking their skin for the past 5000 years or more. In recent times the art form has taken people by storm. In the west, this is a common trend among the people. In the east too this trend is catching up and a large number of people are going in for this body art. Tattooing comes with its own set of side effects which we will discuss here.
Side effects of Tattoos:
1. Acute Inflammatory Reactions:
This is the most common side effect associated with tattooing. The dyes that are used are produced from metal salts which react with the lower layers of the skin. Redness and swelling is caused which may stay for a week thus causing acute inflammation among the skin cells.
2. Skin Infections:
The staphylococcus bacteria is the cause of major infections after a tattoo. Under the influence of these bacteria , MSRA is the common infection noticeable on the surface of the skin like rashes and lesions. The other form is cellulitis occurring underneath the tattoo, more dangerous and harder to detect apart from certain pain and discomfort. In such case consult the doctor immediately. If infections are not
treated to at once it may spread to the eyes, lungs and joints.
3. Eczematous Hypersensitivity Reactions:
Allergic contact dermatitis and photo allergic dermatitis are two hypersensitive reactions to the tattoo pigments used. Tattoo ink components undergo continuous changes with composition according to the colors used. Tattoo inks or the additives used, do not come under any regulation and hence the chances for skin complications rises. Pigments used to make red, black, purple, blue, green tattoo colours cause most hypersensitive skin reactions.
4. MRI Complications:
Tattoo inks are made of metal salts. Due to this metallic compilation people with tattoos complain of a burning sensation while undergoing MRI scan. MRI scan uses powerful magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses which affects the metal particles in the ink.
5. Skin Discolouration:
Skin discoloration is another common symptom of tattooing. The area of the skin where the tattoo is done gets discolored. With passing time it may fade but the effect does not go away permanently.
Formations of tough lesions called keloids are not uncommon with tattoos. Persons genetically predisposed to their formation are more prone to having them. It is also seen among people without the genetic condition.
Red and yellow pigments are known to trigger an allergic reaction when exposed to sunlight among some people. This is caused due to the skin being photosensitive.
Granuloma are mostly formed due to pigments used for red, green blue and purple inks. UV visible tattoos also cause this reaction. These are small red bumps on the skin that consist of epithelioid cells, lymphocytes and a few large cells
9. Cancer Risks:
Researches are being done by the European Chemicals Agency to find further proof of tattoos causing cancer. It is a general belief with some proof regarding the matter. It is claimed that the toxic ink can seep into the major organs of the body. The most common casualty is getting a skin cancer.
The pigments used are made of plastic, metal salts like mercury sulfides, cobalt albuminate, cadmium and chromium which are added to get a desired transparency in the tattoos. Chemicals like ferrous oxides and titanium oxides are also added. The amounts are not under regulation and are kept as trade secrets. The metal used may not be in large quantities, but the toxic threat to your body remains the same. It can cause growth retardation, pulmonary effects, problems to the cardiovascular system if the quality and quantity of the tattoo ink being used in the body is not checked.
11. Blood Borne Diseases:
Choose your tattoo parlor carefully. Ensure that a new needle is being used. You run a risk of contracting tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and also HIV infections at a tattoo parlor
12. Blood Donation:
You will have to wait for a few weeks before you are allowed to donate blood again after you get a tattoo. This is to avoid risks of infection.
Today tattooing is a cause of concern as the ink used is still not under proper regulation and parlour owners use ink according to what they feel right. People with skin problems and other health problems should be careful and take medical advice before going for the ink and getting a tattoo done.
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