Dangers of Tattoos


Written by Leanna Westerhof. DM by Caitlyn Campbell.

Tattoos are seen in many different lights. Some people consider them cool or artistic, others see them as reminders or symbols of events that have shaped them, and parents might see them as their kids acting out. People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons, some of them might seem like stupid reasons while others of them have deeper meanings behind them. Every tattoo has a story and all tattoos are permanent unless you want to undergo laser treatment, which can be very expensive and time-consuming. Whatever the reason you get a tattoo, you should also know there are dangers to getting permanent ink etched underneath your skin.

Photo by Leanna Westerhof
Photo by Leanna Westerhof

For those who already have tattoos or are seriously thinking about getting them and have done some research, you may already know the risks. However, I think everyone should be aware before they go under the needle. A tattoo is made possible by a needle poking through the top layer of your skin and embedding ink droplets. There are many possible consequences, but here are five dangers that all should be aware of before getting ink.

1.) Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions can be triggered from the pigments found in the ink. This can occur even years after you get a tattoo.

2.) Skin Infections

Different skin infections can occur, including granulomas which are tiny bumps that can form around the site of the tattoo.

3.) Scarring

Unwanted scarring can occur.

4.) Blood borne diseases

Dirty needles can pass infections on such as HIV, hepatitis, and tetanus.

5.) Cancer

Receiving a tattoo may cause an increased risk of cancer according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

In the past, FDA has not regulated the pigments in tattoo ink, but they plan on starting that practice. According to the FDA website, the “FDA has not approved any tattoo pigments for injection into the skin. This applies to all tattoo pigments, including those used for ultraviolet (UV) and glow-in-the-dark tattoos. Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint.” Which translates to: automobile paint is getting put into your skin, literally.

Source: Audra Critcheloe

In the European Union, there is the possibility of banning certain types of inks and chemicals used in tattoos. But they have never regulated chemicals used in the inks before while the FDA has regulated the chemicals found in ink. However, the FDA has not regulated pigments in the inks which they are now conducting safety studies on. According to the European Chemicals Agency, red inks are the most dangerous, but of course, they also warn against blue, green, and black inks. Recently in the European Union, there has been an influx of cheap Chinese tattoo ink that hasn’t been subject to safety checks can partly be to blame for some of these problems.

If you are interested in getting some ink, I would make sure you have thought it through and taken your allergies into account. Also, if you have sensitive skin, it probably isn’t a good idea for you to get a tattoo. Some other advice would be to do your research on where you go to get your tattoo. Look up the customer reviews and check to see if they follow health and safety regulations. Lastly, don’t be cheap. As college students or frugal money spenders we are all tempted to spend the least amount of money as possible, but quality matters. So be wise and save up!



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