Tattoo taboo? Nah, tattoos are mainstream these days. But are tattoos safe? Unfortunately, even that cute little butterfly tat on your shoulder or that epic sleeve you cant wait to get can lead to some not so hot side effects.
Don’t DIY it!
Always go to a reputable tattoo artist, someone who has been licensed by your state. Use your common sense and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Ask them how they sanitize the tattoo parlor (they need to be using a disinfectant containing Bleach). Check that the tattoo artist is using needles from a sealed container and that they put on new gloves for each client. If you have any concerns about the cleanliness or safety of the tattoo parlor, get out!
Remember, getting a tattoo is almost always a permanent decision – don’t make that decision under the influence of alcohol.
Think before you Ink
Even if you go to a reputable tattoo parlor, you can still experience a reaction to your new tattoo. Tattoo ink contains ingredients that aren’t approved by the FDA for injection into the skin – some ink even contain pigments used in printer ink and car paint (yikes). Ink can also become contaminated with bacteria or mold and cause infection if strict precautions aren’t used. There is no way to be 100% sure that an ink is sterile, even if the container is sealed.
You can have an allergic reaction to tattoo ink, ranging from a mild reaction to something much more serious. It’s not uncommon to get an inflammatory reaction at the site of the tattoo, making the skin slightly red, itchy, and swollen. Don’t scratch though! Scratching can allow bacteria to get into the tattoo, increasing the risk of infection. This sort of reaction typically isn’t serious and goes away in a couple of weeks. You can also have an allergic reaction months, or years, after you get your tattoo. Your doctor or dermatologist can help you diagnose and treat any allergic reactions. Though life threatening complications are rare, if you begin to have increasing swelling or trouble breathing/swallowing, get to an ER ASAP.
Infections aren’t as common as allergic reactions, but they’re typically more serious. Infections caused by tattoos can cause fever, chills, swelling, and pus draining from your tattoo. Consult your doctor ASAP if you’re concerned that you have infection as it may require treatment with antibiotics or even hospitalization. I’ve seen some gnarly tattoo infections and they can get very intense and dangerous even limb threatening, fairly quickly.
I’m not trying to scare you away from getting a tattoo, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks involved. It’s always best to arm yourself with facts before you’re permanently inked so you know what to watch for.
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