Tattoos: Health Risks, Pre And Aftercare
Ink on the body is fast becoming the number one trend in today’s society, despite being likened to as an act of unruly behaviour.
Tattoos have managed to stay as a part of human culture, dating back to the early years when people made inscriptions and drawings on their skin.
Since its existence, tattoos have been an avenue for creativity and self-identity. Nonetheless, according to medical research, tattoos come with possible health risks and require strict aftercare to avoid these risks.
How tattoos are made
A tattoo is formed on the body through the use of permanent ink and needles. The tattoo machine makes punctures in the skin, inserting ink into the second layer of the skin known as the dermis, changing the skin’s pigmentation and causing scarring, which allows drawings to be made and stay permanent.
Health risks of tattoos
There are various elements associated with tattoos that are detrimental to one’s health. These health risks apply to all kinds of permanent tattoos, including makeup tattoos. Tattoos pierce the skin, causing a breach to the skin, which means that skin infection and other disorders may occur. These complications are including;
• Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) complication
Tattoos ink, specifically metal-based ink, is likely to cause burning sensations and swelling on the skin area during MRI examination. Also, tattoos pigment can alter the quality of the image from the examination. The case of MRI exams and tattoos is a rare complication, although the possibility of its occurrence stands. There have been reported cases of MRI complications as a result of tattoos.
News from an article in the American Journal of Roentgenology reports two individuals who sustained skin burns from MRI exams. The article showed that the burns occurred following an electromagnetic reaction due to ferromagnetic metallic compounds found in their tattoo pigment.
• Skin inflammation
In some cases, the scarring from tattoos can lead to granuloma forming around the tattooed skin area. Granuloma inflammation is a tissue reaction that appears as a result of injury to the skin cells. There is also the possibility of keloids appearing around the affected area. It is a case of irregular fibrous tissue formed at the site of a scar. They appear as hard bumps or swellings on the skin.
• Skin reactions/allergies
The inks used for tattooing are made up of different chemical compounds, which can cause reactions leading to allergies. These allergic skin reactions include itching, rash, and redness. Some of these can develop, even after years of getting the tattoo.
• Skin infection/ blood-borne diseases
Permanent tattoos involve piercing the skin, which leaves the skin open to contracting skin infection and other diseases which can be transmitted through the blood.
Without proper sterilisation of tattoo machines, the chances of being infected by a virus are high.
Tattoo pre and aftercare
• Minimising the health risks that could develop from getting a tattoo can be achieved through the following procedures;
• Get a tattoo from a standard and licensed tattoo shop
• Pay attention to the shop’s environmental hygiene.
• Make sure fresh gloves and needles are used
• Cover-up freshly made tattoos with a bandage and clean with a prescribed disinfectant before and after getting a tattoo.
• Apply a layer of Vaseline ointment to keep it moist
• Follow all aftercare instructions given by a professional tattoo artist.
• Be observant of any changes. If one occurs, medical help needs to be sought out.