Tattoos are always an attractive idea; Getting an awesome tattoo can be a super exciting and fun experience that will last you a lifetime. However, beneath all the fun and excitement lurks the difficulties of proper tattoo healing and avoiding complications during and after the tattoo process.
So, if you are considering getting a tattoo, it is essential that you inform yourself and educate yourself before the appointment. In the following paragraphs, we will go over some of the most common tattoo side effects and risks that everyone should be aware of. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
The most common tattoo side effects
In the majority of cases, tattoo complications or side effects occur during the actual tattoo process or right after being tattooed. The reason is that a tattoo is an open wound. Thus between the exposure of the body to all kinds of germs and infectious particles to poor healing, the first 24 to 48 hours are generally the most important to avoid side effects and complications.
However, if anything does happen, it’s usually in the form of the following side effects;
One of the most common side effects of tattoos is skin infection. There are many reasons why skin infections occur. For instance;
- One was tattooed with contaminated tools
- One was exposed to bacteria, viruses and pathogens during the tattoo process
- One suffers from skin and blood infections
- One got a tattoo in a contaminated environment
- One was tattooed by an amateur who didn’t clean the frame or wear new, clean gloves
- A proper follow-up routine has not been followed
- We applied Vaseline on a fresh tattoo
Skin infections often show up in inflamed and raised areas of tattoo skin. There is also excessive oozing of plasma and ink from the tattoo, and in some cases even bleeding.
The tattoo is sore and sore, and one may even experience a rise in body temperature and fever-like symptoms. If such symptoms occur, immediate medical attention and antibiotic treatment should be given.
Tattoo infections may not show up right away. Some infections occur a week or two into the tattoo healing process.
Now, allergic reactions are also a common side effect of tattooing. And, they can happen for two main reasons.
The first reason is the ink used to tattoo you. If a tattoo artist uses poor quality ink, which has no ingredients displayed, there is a high chance that the ink contains toxic parts and even plastic. Black ink is the least allergic. However, ink pigments like yellow, red, green or blue are the most allergenic in humans.
Symptoms of an ink allergy include severe itching, lifting or swelling of the skin, redness, rash, and hives. In such a case, one should seek immediate medical attention and appropriate treatment. After an allergic reaction, chances are that the tattoo will not look good.
Another reason why allergic reactions occur during tattooing is the gloves used by the tattoo artist. Professional tattoo artists don’t use latex gloves for a reason. Many people don’t know that they are allergic to latex, and during tattooing, if the tattooed area is touched by latex, it can lead to an allergic reaction.
So if you’re not sure whether or not you’re allergic to latex, be sure to ask your tattoo artist to use nitrile gloves, if they don’t already use them. Nitrile gloves do not cause allergic reactions and are generally the best glove choice for tattoo artists.
Signs of cancer covering
It may not seem like a direct side effect of tattoos, but unfortunately tattoos can hide signs of skin cancers, especially if they are large. Dermatologists cannot observe skin changes in the tattooed area.
For example, in the early signs of skin cancer, there is usually a change in skin color or pigmentation and a change in moles. When covered in ink, the skin changes, but the change is not visible to the doctor because of the ink.
In such cases, dermatologists may miss early skin changes, which could later affect cancer development and treatment. If you are considering getting a tattoo, it is recommended that you have your skin checked and see if you are at risk of developing skin cancer or major skin changes.
Overall, getting smaller tattoos is always recommended, as larger tattoos make it even harder to notice changes on the skin.
In case a tattooed person needs an MRI, chances are they have serious problems with the tattoo. Studies have shown that metal-based ink reacts with MRI (or Magnetic Resonance) and can cause the tattoo to lift, swell, and even burn.
A special case was noted for such MRI results. A tattooed man was having a spinal MRI. Due to the reaction with the ink, the man suffered second degree skin burns, swelling and lifting of the tattooed skin.
As explained in the expert study, such cases occur as a result of electromagnetic reactions due to metallic compounds in tattoo pigments, one of them being iron oxide. This is why experts suggest people avoid getting tattoos with iron-based ink. If they have such tattoos, it is essential to inform the doctor in time.
Sweating problems (bodily function)
Whether you have a small or a large tattoo will affect how the tattooed skin sweats. This can be a major problem because sweating is a natural process and a necessary bodily function that helps the body cool down. Untattooed skin sweats at a rate of 100%, however, tattooed skin produces 50% less sweat, according to recent studies.
Now why is this a problem? Well, when your skin sweats, it reabsorbs the sodium and electrolytes that are released during sweating. If the skin is tattooed, it will not reabsorb sodium and electrolytes, which can prevent the skin from cooling. This can cause major thermoregulation issues in the body, especially if the tattoo is placed in areas with many sweat glands.
Getting a tattoo infection through contaminated tools or ink isn’t the only danger of getting a tattoo. In 2012, the FDA linked several cases of blood-borne diseases and multi-state bacterial outbreaks to contaminated ink. In case you’re not familiar with the term, blood-borne diseases include diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV.
The majority of cases were related to ink used for tattoos. Over 10% of all unopened bottles of tattoo ink are already contaminated with bacteria. Because the ink is considered part of cosmetics, there is no real insight into the production process or ingredient list when it comes to the ink. As a result, the ink can enter the market without FDA regulations and standards.
So, are tattoos safe?
After reviewing all of the potential side effects of tattooing, it can be hard to say that tattoos are completely safe.
However, we have to be realistic here. If you go to get a tattoo at a professional tattoo shop, by a professional tattoo artist, chances are you won’t have any serious problems. If you follow the proper aftercare routine, you will further minimize the risk of infection and complications. And, if you go to a doctor and check your skin for possible allergies and diseases, you will completely minimize the risk of adverse reactions.
So, there are a few steps you can take before getting a tattoo to minimize the side effects and risks of getting a tattoo.
If you don’t care where you get your tattoo done and the tattoo artist uses clean, sanitized tools and ink, a tattoo infection or serious complication should come as no surprise.
Tattoos, when done and cared for properly, are considered safe. So unless you have a skin condition or risk of an allergic reaction, you should get your tattoo done at a professional tattoo shop.
However, if you notice any signs of complications, such as a rash, redness, swelling, increased pain, or even a fever, be sure to seek medical attention immediately. And, before getting a tattoo, keep in mind that inking your skin is meant to be permanent. So, if reactions occur, they can be permanent or chronic as well. So, do your research and carefully weigh the pros and cons before getting a tattoo.
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