Risks to consider when getting a tattoo. . .

Three risks to consider when getting a tattoo.   Purchase, possession and overt health risks.

Purchase risks include expense and pain.  Adolescents are especially at risk for impulsively obtaining a tattoo and may overpay, choose a tattoo parlor that is unsafe/unclean, or have increased risk of infection due to not appreciating the importance of skin care.  (FYI: Some tattoo artists have temporary locations at flea markets, rock concerts or fraternity parties–convenient . . . and invites impulse “buying”).

Second risk is possession risks, meaning the risk of a negative response from others.  The tattoo may have significant meaning to the person, but the parents, teachers and co-workers may express dislike.   Consider the placement of the tattoo–how public would you like the tattoo?  (on your neck?  or only to be seen by those you are intimate with?)  Consider the content of the tattoo  (will you always like a spider? or current loves name?) Consider your profession.  Artistic jobs may be more approving of visible tattoos versus . . . say, your dentist.   This may cause low self-esteem, possibly difficult job placement, and eventual removal of the tattoo.

Third risk is localized infection.  Of note, tattoo artists are not required to complete formal training.  Staphylococcus aureus infection may occur.  To decrease this risk,  have tattoists adhere to infection-control measures

  • change gloves between clients
  • wash hands
  • use alcohol and iodine on the skin before tattoing begins
  • disinfect tattoo equipment before application of dye
  • wash skin with soap and water twice daily after tattoo applied.

Hepatitis B may be transmitted during tattooing with reused or inadequately sterilized instruments.  State regulations also do not require hepatitis B vaccination be given to tattoo artists.  No known cases of HIV have been caused by tattooing.

Be aware of the ink used, as ink is not FDA approved.  Some artists use automobile paint or printer ink.  These can contain metals like cadmium (yellow dye), mercury (red), cobalt (blue), and chromium (green) which can cause allergic reactions in the skin.  Consider using bioabsorbable ink (like “Freedom-2 inc”) which when exposed to laser energy is resorbed by the body.  Long-term studies on safety of Freedom-2 ink are unknown.

Please do not tattoo over a dark mole.  It makes watching that mole for cancerous changes more difficult.

Hope this helps.

About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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