Think before you ink

Tattoos are cool. However, Dr Vivek Sharma suggests  you be fully aware of the risks involved before sitting down for one.

“If Shakespeare were a tattooist, we’d appreciate body art more.”

— Terri Guillements

MOISTURE-FREE : Treat an infected tattoo by  ensuring it stays dry at all times.Ink to paper is thoughtful but ink to flesh is hard core. The word tattoo is said to have two major derivations —from the Polynesian (Greek) word ‘ta’, which means striking something and the Tahitian word ‘tatu’, which means to mark something.

Centuries before rock stars and celebrities made it popular, tattoos were used by tribal men and women across the world, whether it was the Maoris of New Zealand or the Apatanis of Arunachal Pradesh, to mark their identity and territory.

Tattooing and piercing are hot and happening today, with youngsters getting tattoos done on their body and getting various parts of their body pierced. This choice of art form on the body is advertised and endorsed by actors and singers alike. There are even TV shows dedicated to this art form. Even a glamorous toy icon like the Barbie doll, is available in colourful tattoos and designs.

If you are thinking of getting your body tattooed,  you must be informed of its pros and cons. Learn how to ensure you have a safe procedure, how to care for it and more. You should be aware of its method, precautions, consequences, etc.

Know the risks

Keep in mind that tattoo parlours and piercing venues are not held to the same sterility standards as a doctor’s clinic or a hospital.

Tattoos breach the skin, which means that skin infection and other complications are possible, and the specific risks include:

*Allergic reaction:  Tattoo dye, especially the red dye, can cause an allergic skin reaction that leads to an itchy rash that may continue for years after you get the tattoo.

*Blood-borne diseases: If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract blood-borne diseases including Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-C, tetanus and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). Please note that the tattooing equipment is difficult to sterilise and requires highly hygienic conditions.

*Skin infection: Tattoos can lead to bacterial infections that are characterised by redness, swelling, pain and the formation of pus-like discharge.

*Skin problems: Sometimes lumps known as granulomas form around the inked area — usually seen with the use of the red ink. Tattooing can also lead to raised areas caused by an over growth of scar tissue (keloids).

*MRI complications: Tattoos or permanent makeup may cause swelling or burning in the affected area during magnetic resonance imaging. In some cases  —  when a person with a permanent eye liner has an MRI of the eye  — tattoo pigments may interfere with the quality of the image. 

*Removal problem: Despite advances in laser technology, removing a tattoo is a painstaking process, usually involving several rounds at the doctor’s clinic, skin grafting and high costs.

Tips and warning signs

*Don’t take tattooing lightly. If they get infected, it could become a very serious health problem.

*Indication that an infection has occurred include swelling, redness, heat or tenderness around the tattoo, red streaks extending from the tattoo area, pus from the wound, swollen or tender lymph nodes  or a fever.

*Use an antibiotic ointment to treat your infected tattoo.

*Treat an infected tattoo by keeping it dry at all times. Water is the biggest enemy  when it is healing.

*If there is minimal damage to the skin, the speed of healing will depend on the amount of moisture in the area.

*Make sure to keep your tattoo out of the sun. The sun will agitate it and it will hurt  with the heat.  The sun’s rays can make your tattoo fade away faster.
Whether it’s a coloured design or black, it will fade if exposed to sunlight.

*As tattoos are placed on different parts of the body, some areas will be more prone to infection. Factors that cause infection include clothes rubbing against it and dirt.

*During the healing process, if you pick at your scabs, it can cause infection as well. Your fingers and the area under your fingernails harbour a cesspool of bacteria. 

*A tattooing machine punctures the skin 3,000 times a minute and each of these thousand punctures create a hole 1/16th  of an inch into the dermis layer.


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