Know all the Risks of Getting Tattoos on the Body

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In my previous article, I wrote extensively on how tattoos are getting popular. That article got a lot of views and over the last few days, I received a lot of mails. Senders were curious to know the risks associated with tattooing. Whether it’s painful or not, etc.

I figured replying them back one by one would take a lot of time, better I post another article here as a follow up to the previous article. This time on the safety risks of tattoos.

Yes, tattoos are risky 

Listen, I am not here to promote the tattoo industry. So there’s no reason to hold back any information from you. Yes, there are risks involved with tattooing. Understand these risks before you go get one.

Tattoo keloid

Risk of bacterial infections 

Getting a tattoo starkly increases the risks of bacterial and fungal infections. All blood banks in the US follow one rule: someone who got a tattoo recently has to wait for at least a year to donate blood. They are considered high-risk individuals who can transmit infections.

Ink covered needles are the main carriers of infections. Several types of infections can be transmitted. Tuberculosis and steph infections are the most common. Steph is short for staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Normally, steph bacteria is susceptible to OTC antibiotics like amoxicillin, but immunization poses a high risk of antibiotic resistant strains.

Risk of viral infections 

Alongside bacterial infections, tattooing increases the odds of viral infections. Many people have contracted Hepatitis C from tattooing and skin piercing. Take a look at this medical report that explores the association of Hepatitis C and tattooing.

Because tattoo equipment could be contaminated, sterilizing them every now and then is recommended. Or using separate equipment for individual clients. But most tattoo shop don’t bother, which increases the likelihood of customers getting infected. Among the transmittable viral infections are HCV, HPV and even HIV. So caution is strongly recommended.


Risk of dermatological complications 

Allergies are fairly common among people who get tattoos. The primary cause for allergies is chemicals used in tattoo ink. Below is a list of chemicals found in standard tattoo inks:

  • Arsenic
  • Carbon
  • Lithium
  • Beryllium
  • Sulphur
  • Lead titanate

These chemicals are damaging to skin. Yet tattoo artists use them. When skin is exposed to harsh chemicals, irritation and inflammation results in. Many many people reported they got allergic dermatitis after getting tattoos.

Studies revealed pigments used in tattoo color are industrial-grade, meaning they are only certified to be applied on industrial materials. Often these pigments are used in car wash paints and inkjet printers. Applying them on the skin could lead to dermatological problems.

Tattooing and FDA 

Guess what! None of the dye inks used in tattoo parlors is approved by the FDA. That’s right, FDA found the amount of harmful toxins to be too high in tattoo inks, thus refrained from approving them.

Some designers use special inks to showcase their expertise. Inks such as UV and radiance-in-the-dark are used by them. These inks are detrimental to skin for having corrosive chemicals. As a matter of fact, FDA found even normal, most innocuous looking inks could permanently damage vital organs like kidney, liver, spleen, larynx and lungs.


Tissue related complication 

Tattooing could harm your tissues. You’d be surprised to know there are tattoo ideas for hiding scars in the body. Problem is after the tattoo work is done, scar tissues could overgrow around the wound. This condition is medically known as keloids. Doctors agree that tattooing exponentially increases the chances of getting keloids.

Another type of tissue related complication is development of granulomas around the tattooed area. Granulomas are inflamed tissues. Pigment insertion could inflame the tissues surrounding the tattoo site, resulting in formation of nodules. These nodules – even though benign – have slim chances of turning malignant.

MRI complications 

Having a tattoo makes it hard for you to undergo an MRI test and get accurate results. An MRI procedure sends magnetic field and radio waves to get detailed images. Two types of complications can arise when tattooed individuals undergo MRI scan.

The first type is caused by the dyes. During the procedure, the dye could get heated up and leave a first-degree burn like scar. The second type is due to the metallic elements in the ink. Such elements could interfere with the magnetic resonance and ruin the image.

Tattoo scars

Safety tips to follow 

Scared already? Well, if you have tattoos and read this far, here’s a to-do list for safety:

  • Always keep the tattooed area clean.
  • A tan is okay but avoid overexposure to sun.
  • Use herbal ointments.
  • Wait at least 4 weeks for the tattooed area to heal.
  • Before a diagnostic test, inform your doctor that you have tattoo/s.

Remember, better stay safe than sorry. Getting a tattoo may be fun and trendy but being oblivious to risks is not.


The purpose of this article is not to scare you or discourage you from getting a tattoo. Rather, it is to make you informed about the risks that come along.



1 comment

  1. 29 March, 2019 at 22:23 Reply

    The studio should have and use an  autoclave  (equipment used to sterilize the necessary equipment). If there is not an autoclave, do not agree to a procedure.

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