Getting a tattoo might make some people look cool, but it may also leave them in pain for several years. A recent US survey shows that tattoo-related complications are far more common than believed, as 1 person out of ten has to deal with skin problems for a long time after getting inked.
The findings of the study are even more concerning, as approximately a quarter of the US population has a permanent tattoo. About ten percent of those claim to have experienced swelling, itching and various skin infections that lasted for several months after getting the tattoo, and sometimes even for years.
“We were rather alarmed at the high rate of reported chronic complications tied to getting a tattoo,” explained dermatologist Marie C. Leger, lead coordinator of the survey. Leger advised that given the increasing popularity of permanent tattoos, both health officials and consumers need to stay alert.
The survey, the first of this kind in the Unites States, was conducted by researchers from the Langone Medical Center at the New York University. The investigators were able to find a connection between the occurrence of skin infections and specific ink colors. As the researchers pointed out, the most popular tattoo colors – red and black – are also the most frequently associated with long lasting side effects.
As to what is causing the complications, he jury is still out. Based only on the answers they got, the research team was unable to determine if the chemicals used to create the color are the ones responsible for the skin infections, or some other chemicals, such as brighteners or preservatives.
The investigators interviewed 300 people during the survey and about 10 percent of them (31, to be precise) said they developed undesired reactions, such as itching, swelling and pain that didn’t get away until several months after. Dr. Leger explained that what she found really surprising is the high number of people who experienced problems.
“I see patients with complaints about their tattoos, but I didn’t have any idea how common it was,” Dr. Leger said. However, the study sample is relatively small, so it is too early to say if the numbers are relevant for the entire country. Still, what the study does is point towards a potential health hazard, and Leger argues further research needs to be done to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
Left untreated, short-term complications can lead to chronic infections that people could be struggling with for years to come after they first got the tattoo. Things get even more problematic, as some of the complications that occur after getting inked cannot be avoided. Still, health officials advise to clean the tattoo site and contact a physician as soon as something unusual happens.
Image Source: Tatoo Hero