Health Risks Associated With Tattoos
& Permanent Body Art

Written by Diet Bites

Youth Fades Along With the Original Tattoo

Getting the skin permanently etched with an emblem that will signify what you stand for or that makes a personal statement is easier in this era than in any other. But it doesn't come with risks, at times serious and life-threatening.

Before we address those rather frightening, serious risks associated with permanent body art, it's important to note that the human body is an ever-changing piece of work in itself.

As time goes by, the largest organ of our body - our skin or epidermis shifts and changes with the hands of that unseen clock, the effects registering on the body.

This metamorphosis is generally referred to as 'the pull of gravity' or the 'gravitational effect or impact' but in reality, it's simply the effects of ageing.

That tattoo that was etched onto our backside during our youthful, carefree years may look more like a blown-out light bulb than a cute little heart. While it was originally red, it may now be an ugly looking brown. And have you ever seen an older individual who got a tattoo who is proud to show it off?

Emulation, Celebrity Adoration

Particularly where youth is involved, these young minds are ripe for impression. Too often they are bedazzled by someone that they admire and strive to be like; and many times the decision to get the body etched is greatly influenced by a celebrity crush.

Skin Expansion, Deflation

The body tends to expand from our early youth (teens) as we enter full adulthood. And as it does - what happens to that body art? It become distorted as the skin stretches.

When weight gain or loss occurs, the result is the same issue of distortion. And because the human body is ever changing - from getting larger, smaller or in obtaining wrinkles due to Time's Hand, these changes impact body art.

Risks & Side Effects of Tattooing

Let's discuss those serious as well as the mild side effects and risks associated with body emblems:

The tattooing process itself can be painful and the larger the mark that is being imprinted onto the body, the greater the amount of pain should be expected.

A machine that is held by the 'artist' jabs tiny needles into the upper layer of the skin, making punctures which insert ink to create the designs. There is no anesthetics administered amid the process. Bleeding does occur as the skin is pierced.

If the needles that are used are not sterile, the individual is at risk for getting diseases that drug users get when using unclean or used needles. The most common include Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and tetanus. In addition, body art can interfere with certain medical tests in which magnetic sources are used to determine health conditions. Amid the screening process, the area that was marked on the body may swell, burn or itch.

Again, it's important to keep in mind that our skin is a major organ. While we can live without a gall bladder or without one kidney - the body cannot survive without the skin. Anything that is put onto or into the skin layers is absorbed - even the hand and body lotions that we use. And when the skin is pierced or scratched, it creates an invasion and a potential for a myriad of health issues such as the following:

Allergic Reactions

This is generally due to the types of dyes used amid the inking process. While skin rashes are a common side effect, life-threatening hives can occur. Even if an allergic reaction doesn't occur directly following the session, it may do such years after the event. The dyes which tend to create the most issues include: yellow, blue, red and green.

Bumps or raised areas (granulomas) can form over time around the inked areas as well as keloids as the result of scar tissue. Body piercing also come with the same risks.

The skin may become infected, oozing puss. Swelling and redness may also be present.

Safety Concerns, Your Tattoo Artist

So you've decided to go ahead and get that desired body art stamped on, regardless of the risks. At this point, you'll be wise to do the following:

Before you even sit or lay down in the shop, take a good look at the conditions of your surroundings. Does the area look clean. What about the artist? Clean cut or someone who looks like they could care less about body hygiene?

Are they wearing protective gloves? A fresh pair? This is important because if they accidentally prick their skin after working on someone who has a disease that can be transmitted via the blood, and if they prick their skin while giving you a tattoo, then you can then get the disease.

You'll want to ensure that anything (needles, dyes) that are used for your tattooing come in sealed packets. In addition, the artist will be using equipment that is not disposable - but that will require sterilization before it is used on another client.

The equipment not only involves the tools used to imprint or create the design, but also areas that may be touched with the gloved hands amid the process such as drawer, door and sink handles.

Caring for Skin After the Process

Apply an antibiotic ointment along with moisturizer to the tattooed area to speed healing. Make sure your clothing doesn't rub against the raw area.

Avoid exposing the area to bright lights, particularly the sun. In addition, avoid exposing your new body art to chlorinated water such as found in hot tubs and swimming pools.

Don't go into bodies of water that pose contamination risks, such as lakes, streams or rivers. And after showering or bathing, don't rub toweling over the area; rather pat the skin dry.

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