Over the years, several studies have focused on the risks of tattoos, including the safety and sterility of the facility. A recent review in The Lancet looked at these health and safety concerns and found that one to five percent of people with tattoos contract bacterial infections, while others have an allergic reaction to the ink. In this blog post, Dr. Joel Schlessinger discusses these risks and why it’s best to think twice before permanently inking your skin.
Tattoo ink is not currently regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which puts consumers at risk, Dr. Joel Schlessinger explains.
In many countries, tattoos are classified as cosmetics. While the skin’s barrier keeps topical cosmetics out of the body, tattoo ink is injected into living tissue. This is why many dermatologists and skin care professionals believe tattoos should be classified in a separate category. Tattoo parlors are currently regulated by each state and training requirements for artists vary widely.
Contaminated ink could lead to bacterial and viral infections, Dr. Joel Schlessinger says.
Much like the parlors and artists, tattoo ink is also fairly unregulated. There is no standard in place for ink ingredients. Most tattoo inks contain organic pigments, but some also contain dangerous preservatives, as well as contaminants like nickel, lead and arsenic. These additives can trigger infections and allergic reactions, especially in those with sensitive skin.
As a board-certified dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Joel Schlessinger has seen many patients with infections and other complications after getting a tattoo.
“As with any procedure, it is very important to be aware of the risks associated with tattoos, including infections,” he says. “We have seen both bacterial and serious viral infections with tattoos so my advice is to think twice before getting a tattoo.”
Dr. Joel Schlessinger also stresses the importance of seeing your dermatologist if you have any concerns. Experts believe the majority of tattoo complications go unreported and this further contributes to the problem.
“If you have a tattoo and are worried it may be infected, go to your dermatologist for an evaluation as it is best to treat it early,” Dr. Joel Schlessinger says.
Do you have a question about tattoos for Dr. Joel Schlessinger? Share with us in the comments.