Tattoos have been around since centuries, fulfilling different purposes across different cultures and tribes. They have served as symbolic indications of status or ranks, marks of fertility, bravery decorations or rites of passage, but in modern times tattoos have different meanings. During the latter half of the twentieth century, tattoos primarily came to be associated with gang affiliations and religious beliefs but now, generally flaunted by rebellious adolescents, they have extended to representing various things. For some it could be an expression of love, a symbol of everlasting gratitude, freedom, luck, protection or simply a decoration.Tattoos are made by basically injecting the skin with pigments, hence any form of distortion to the body does come with its adverse affects which are:
10. Cancer risks
Studies to document the effect of tattoos on the body and its relationship with cancer are still going on but several experts are of the opinion that tattoos do cause cancer, let alone the fact that it is increasing the risks of developing it as well. They claim that the nano particles from the tattoo inks can seep into the body’s major organs, apart from permanent damage caused by the dyes to collagen. The toxicity of the inks, whose chemical composition is unknown and unregulated, can travel through the bloodstream to accrue in your kidneys and the spleen. The most common health risk that you put yourself into when you get a tattoo would always be – skin cancer. Though not proven, tattoos do raise the risk of developing melanomas that is abnormal growth of cells.
9. Keloids and scars
Keloids are a type of scar which is usually an overgrowth of collagen tissue formed at the site of a wound. They are firm and rubbery and pink to purplish in colour. In contrast to scars, keloids do not diminish with time and are often accompanied by itching and irritation. They can grow beyond the boundaries of your wounds and certain people are more prone to developing them than others depending on family history, hence they should avoid getting piercings or tattoos done. Scars are bound to occur during the initial healing period if the proper care steps are not followed. by getting a tattoo done on your skin, you not only put yourself n deep risk of growing the Keloids but at the same time you may aggrevate the condition of the wound, if you already have one.
Haematomas are bruises that can occur due to the puncturing of a blood vessel during the process and can occur as blood pools, keratoacanthoma is a skin tumour characterized by a dome shaped inflamed skin which gradually increases in size and its developments risks increase with tattoos. Carcinoma or cancer, hyperplasia which is organ enlargement due to abnormal cell multiplication, hyperkeratosis which is an excess growth of keratin in hair follicles are all examples of abnormal growth whose occurrence also will depend from person to person and also the tattoo artist.
7. Granulomas and lymph node problems
Granulomas are nodules that develop around particles or material which is perceived by the body as foreign. Since tattoo ink particles are foreign material, granulomas can develop around the tattooed tissue. Apart from granulomas, enlargement of the lymph nodes have also been reported as a side effect of tattoos. The pigments used, leak into the bloodstream, accumulating at the lymph nodes causing painful swellings in these regions. The major cause of concern due to these inflammations is the misdiagnosis of melanoma. In patients with cancer risks, a Radiologist is often unable to distinguish between the ink staining in the lymph node and the abnormal tissue growth.
6. Removal problems
Tattoos of the permanent kind could be about something you believe in or someone you love but like all things in life, change is the only constant thing. What if there comes a turn where you want to remove your tattoo? Unfortunately getting a tattoo removed is far more costly and painful than getting it done. The modern removal process consists of using lasers which break down the pigments in the tattoos and after regular laser treatments over a number of sittings which vary according to the size and colour of tattoo, the tattoo eventually fades. The pigments are broken down to such smaller particles that they can now be assimilated by the body but the downside is the chances of scarring during the healing process and some risk of infection. Blistering and scabbing can also occur if the laser intensity is high. The laser can also cause colour changes in certain pigments requiring more sittings. Though not required, some people do opt for local anesthesia by use of creams or injections depending on their pain threshold.
5. MRI scan errors
Since the inks used for tattooing contain metals,there have been complaints by people having tattoos, to experience a burning sensation, when they are undergoing a MRI scan. Though not conclusively verified, there have been reports of the MRI image’s quality getting affected by the pigments in the tattoo inks. An MRI or a magnetic resonance imaging creates pictures of the interior of the body using magnetic fields and radio frequency pulses. The concern for tattoo inks arises mainly due to the magnetic force which is extremely powerful and can affect the metal particles in the inks. Hence the MRI s done for people with tattoos requires more attention.
Apart from the risk of contaminated needles and equipment spreading hepatitis and herpes, the more common risks involves skin infections. The most common infections are caused due to the staphylococcus bacteria. There are two types, one of which is MRSA which is the most common sort of infection and occurs on the surface of the skin in the form of of rashes and lesions making it easily detectable. The other type is called cellulitis and occurs under the tattoo. It is more serious and is difficult to detect apart from the pain and discomfort which should be taken care of immediately. Apart from staph, fungi, mold and other bacteria can also cause infections which can spread beyond the tattoo and affect eyes, cause lung infections, joint infections or various other infections involving the other organs.
Where earlier tattoos were made from natural dyes , today’s inks can be made from a variety of ingredients such as pigments suspended in a carrier solution for colour, of which the pigments are composed of plastics or metallic salts such as mercury sulfide , cobalt albuminate, cadmium, chromium and chromic oxides. Aluminum silicates and Barium sulphates are used to preserve some physical properties of the tattoo and ferrous oxides and titanium oxides are mixed as well for desired transparency. Now the actual amount and mixture of these constituents varies from parlour to parlour because it is considered a trade secret. These inks are injected below the skin layer for permanency and the toxic effect of these metals in your body is however in small amounts, but cannot be ignored. From growth retardation, mild irritants, pulmonary effects to affecting the cardiovascular systems, these can all be the side effects of just getting a tattoo.
2. Allergic reaction
Allergic Reactions to tattoos are quite common and there are different types of allergies that can be caused. Most often you are required to do a patch test to determine whether your skin is not too sensitive for the tattoo inks prior to actually getting it, but it may not always be a sure shot way of knowing. Phototoxic reactions do occur, though not very common, considering the number of people who gets tattoos done every year, where phototoxicity means having a reaction on exposure to sunlight. Inflammatory reactions caused primarily by the inks appear as swellings and red rashes which generally occurs for everyone and is expected to disappear within 2 to 4 weeks with proper attention and care. Dermatitis caused due to allergic reactions to pigments is characterized by inflamed skin rashes and by the affected area becoming scaly or flaky. These allergic reactions don’t always occur immediately after the tattoo has been applied, sometimes the effects can be delayed by months, even years. Itchiness and red bumps which can be caused due to changes in weather or body temperature often occur which will probably require a visit to your dermatologist or antibiotics.
The use of injections during the process of tattoo application can increase the risks of contracting transfusion-transmitted diseases such as tetanus, hepatitis B and C, herpes, tetanus, staph, syphilis and HIV, AIDS. Hence there are several places where prospective blood donors are screened for tattoos. Therefore it is important that you visit an established and well known shop which follows proper safety standards to prevent the spread of these diseases. New, sealed needles for every new tattoo, sterilizing hands and instruments regularly and using gloves are basic safety protocols every tattoo parlor is required to follow.