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Have you been toying with the idea of getting a tattoo done? Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular but you must carefully analyze the risks associated with tattoos before taking the plunge. Read on to find more about the potential risks of tattoos.

Tattooing is a form of art that has been practiced by tribal people as a religious ritual and a way of life. Over the past few decades, tattoos have become extremely popular and almost one quarter of Americans under the age of 30 have at least one or more tattoos on their skin. An increasing number of teens and young adults prefer to get tattooed as a form of self-expression. Tattooing is a form of decorative art that people indulge in to mark special events in their lives, as a mark of remembrance for a loved one, or to show their commitment to someone special. 

Tattoos can be permanent or temporary. Permanent tattoos are more harmful and therefore people should opt for temporary tattoos that last for a couple of days. Permanent tattoos are difficult to remove and can only be removed by using lasers. Even then, they might leave a scar on the body. Tattoos might appeal to you during a specific phase in your life but you must think twice before risking your life just to look cool. Getting a tattoo is not only painful and expensive but also exposes you to a number of health and skin risks.

How are Tattoos Done?

Tattoos are done by injecting colored pigments into the skin’s inner layer known as dermis, through pricks. Tattoo artists often use a hand-held machine (similar to a sewing machine) with one or multiple needles that pierce the skin repeatedly and inject the tattoo colors in the form of ink droplets to form a design. Tattoo artists know the exact depth to which the tattoo needle needs to be pierced so as not to cause bleeding and unbearable pain. Getting a tattoo might take about 15 minutes to several hours depending on the design and complexity of the tattoo. Since tattoos are not done on the epidermis which is renewed throughout your lifetime, they tend to be permanent. Tattoos are not done under anesthetics and therefore might cause pain along with minor bleeding.

Tattoo inks are mostly a combination of metallic salts (oxides, selenides, and sulphides) and organic dyes, in a carrier solution made for ease of application. Typically each color and each brand of ink has a different constitution. The carrier solution might contain methanol, denatured alcohol, rubbing alcohol, detergents, formaldehyde, and other toxic aldehydes. Most tattoo manufacturers do not even know about the substances they are puncturing inside the skin. There is rarely a disclosure of ingredients used in the coloring agents.

Continue reading after recommendations

  • “Malignant melanoma arising at tattoo sites used for radiotherapy field marking”, by Arie H. Bartal, et al. Published in the September, 1980 issue of the British Journal of Radiology, accessed on April 24, 2013
  • “Risks Associated with Tattooing and Body Piercing”, by Ronald L. Braithwaite, et al. Published in the Vol. 20, No. 4 (1999), issue of Journal of Public Health Policy, accessed on April 24, 2013, 2013.
  • Photo courtesy of Eneas De Troya by Flickr :
  • Photo courtesy of M Glasgow by Flickr :