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Tattoo Risks


Tattoos are so common these days we hardly think about potential risks associated with them. After all, tattooing is a centuries-old form of body art. We assume it must be safe. In fact, in 2003 it was estimated that nearly 40 percent of adults aged 25-29 had at least one tattoo. Even so, the health concerns associated with inking are very real. If you experience serious health problems after getting a tattoo, you may wish to seek advice from a personal injury attorney.

What You’re Getting into— or, What’s Getting into You

 Permanent tattoos utilize needles to inject inks below the surface of the skin. Although the FDA has the potential to regulate the inks and pigments, the fact is, there is very little oversight into these substances. The inks utilized in tattoos use pigments that have been approved for industrial –grade printing and automobile paint. Some of the known ingredients include aluminum, barium, cadmium, copper, mercury, titanium, and lead. Nearly 20 percent of pigments have cancer-causing properties. Glow-in-the-dark tattoos have plastic polymers in the ink. Furthermore, the ink requires a “carrier” to get the ink to the desired location. Ethyl alcohol, rubbing alcohol, and formaldehyde are common carriers used in tattooing. It seems logical to assume that the potential for health consequences is real.

Health Concerns

 Beyond mild allergic reactions to the pigments, several documented health risks exist with regard to tattoos:

  • Viral Infections: Unclean needles are a serious concern, which can be linked to hepatitis and HIV;
  • Bacterial Infections: Toxic shock syndrome, impetigo, tetanus, and tuberculosis are just a handful of the known infections that have been associated with tattoos;
  • Fungal Infections: zygomycosis and sporotrichosis are associated with skin trauma;
  • Scarring: Unexpected scar tissue may build up when getting or removing a tattoo;
  • Granulomas: Tiny knots in the skin sometimes form around what the body perceives as a foreign invader, such as tattoo pigment particles;
  • Sarcoidosis: Small reddish patches on the skin;
  • Skin Cancers: Melanomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and basal cell carcinomas may form and remain unnoticed until they grow beyond the borders of the tattooed area;
  • MRI Complications: Magnetic resonance imaging occasionally experience burning or swelling around the tattoo site when they have MRI’s.

Tattoo Research

 Researchers have many questions about the inks used in tattoos. How are they metabolized in the body? When tattoos fade or are removed with laser therapies, where does the pigment go? Even though colors fade or disappear, are the pigments still in the body, and, if so, are there health concerns?

Some studies indicate that pigment may migrate from the site of the tattoo to the lymph nodes. What is not known is whether or not this migration has health consequences in the long run. Some studies indicate that many effects of tattooing may not show up until as many as 20 years later. But the fact of the matter is, the number of studies related to tattoo safety is profoundly limited. There is simply no proof that tattoos are entirely safe.

If You Believe a Tattoo Caused Illness

 If you are concerned that a tattoo is responsible for a serious health condition, our experienced team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton can help. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation in Daytona Beach.