Everywhere you go, tattoo shops are springing up and,whenever you see bare skin (weather permitting), the chances are that a tattoo will be on display. In fact, I have written about tattoos
before but in rather a tongue-in-cheek way. But with this modern trend, we need to be more serious and ask whether there are problems that can arise when tattooing?
Are there any health concerns to consider?
It would seem that there are. If people want to tattoo their bodies, they should be able to do so with proper health and safety guarantees.
Often people suffer considerable pain and discomfort when undergoing a tattoo. It is even fairly common to get lightheaded or pass out while getting a tattoo but there are other repercussions too.
- Any procedure that involves puncturing the skin repeatedly can be stressful on the body.
- Many chemicals used in tattoos are industrial pigments that were originally used for other purposes, including automobile paints and writing inks, with no supporting safety studies.
- There are laws regarding the use of gloves and sterile needles when administering tattoos but no rules about the dyes and inks used. An artist should always use new, sterilized needles and wear surgical gloves while premises and workstations should be kept scrupulously clean.
- Tattoo artists sometimes dilute ink with distilled or purified water. While it is probably very rare, it has been known for contaminated water to be used. Cases have been recorded where Mycrobacterium chelonae (a form of micro-bacteria commonly found in nature and notably in drinking water) was diagnosed. If left untreated, it can lead to lung disease, ocular disease and joint infections, even causing a secondary infection if it spreads. Treatment and recovery takes at least six months, and the initial diagnosis is often difficult to pinpoint.
- One of the chemicals known to be used in tattoo ink is thimerosal or thiomersal, an organic compound made with mercury. Used as a preservative, thimerosal is very effective at killing off fungal and bacterial growth but mercury is a well-known neurotoxin.
- Some may also have an allergic reaction to the ink and dye, weakening their immune system and therefore affecting their health.
- There is always the chance of contracting diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis or bacterial infections from dirty needles. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with blood and/or body fluids of an infected person, Any procedure (where contaminated tools break your skin) can spread the infection.
- The process of tattooing itself can cause skin cancer, psoriasis, toxic shock syndrome or even behavioral changes.
Is pregnancy a safe time to have a tattoo?
Pregnancy is not considered a safe time to think about getting a tattoo and in fact, most qualified licensed professionals will not knowingly tattoo pregnant women because of the risks to them and their unborn babies. In addition to those health concerns listed above, your skin is hypersensitive during pregnancy, so the likelihood of scarring is greater. There is also a possibility that the tattoo will heal poorly because your body is focusing its energy on the baby. There is limited research on the effects of tattoo dye on an unborn fetus. As most doctors advise their patients not to have their hair dyed when they are pregnant, the same caution applies to tattoos.
Can oils help to heal tattoos?
Natural oils can help to heal tattoos rather than commercial creams and petroleum jelly. This is because the latter contain ingredients (such as mineral oil and alcohols) that have proven to be harmful for tattoo health. These ingredients are often toxic but also clog pores and dry the skin. Instead consider:
- Argan oil with its healing properties and unusually high levels of vitamin E and carotenes, will help tattoos to heal quickly without compromising ink and colour while protecting and repairing skin damage and soothing any itchiness. The oil is also antioxidant-rich for added protection from chemicals and pollutants that attack healthy cells and cause skin damage.
- There is even an essential oils product that has been specially formulated to aid a tattoo's healing process. Known as Tinkture Tattoo After Care, this blend of therapeutic grade essential and carrier oils helps tattoos to heal quicker, preventing infection and lessening any pain, bruising and swelling that may occur.
- Coconut oil is another suggestion. You can now add “tattoo moisturizing and treatment” to the never ending list of health benefits of coconut oil. Apply daily a slight smear of pure coconut oil on the tattoo until fully healed.
We know that tattoos can go wrong or you can change your mind and regret an original tattoo decision. Tattoos can be removed although at some cost. Ablative lasers are now used in surgical interventions for removing tattoos and other dermatological applications. The laser light is focused to a tiny spot size with a very high-powered density.
Before you take the big step to have a tattoo, with the worry and risk of any health concerns, think about having a temporary tattoo first.