A fast emerging trend, tattooing has become one of the most popular ways for accentuating the body. This body art, today, has spanned to people from all walks of life. Right from the celebrities to the criminals to common mass and even animals, tattoo mania has engulfed everyone in its grip. Though tattoos look enticing on a person's body, its effect is far from just being attractive and alluring. Tattooing often causes side effects in the body in the form of allergies. Though this is not the norm, there are many people who fall prey to tattoo allergies even after going to a hygienic parlor and taking all the precautions in terms of sterility. This type of allergic reaction is, mainly, due to the ingredients present in the ink of the artwork.
Causes & Symptoms
Tattoo allergies are mostly caused by the red and green ink. This is because the dye used in both the tattoo inks is mostly unregulated in nature. While there are many things that can be used to create the pigment that forms ink, generally, the ink is made up of nickel, mercury (minimal or almost no), cobalt and cadmium. It is these metals that can cause allergic reactions in people. The most common symptoms of allergic reactions to tattoo pigments comes across in the form of itching, swelling, redness of the skin, raised bumps, hives and irritation. In the worst cases, tattooing can also result in oozing and pussing of clear sebum from the skin. Sometimes little bumps outgrow on and around tattoo. It is called granulomas. Keloids get formed on the tattooed skin, which causes the skin to rise above its surface. This happens because of overgrowth in scar tissues. Tattooing can also cause blood borne diseases like tetanus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, etc. It usually happens because of the use of equipments that are contaminated with infected blood. Also, due to magnetic resonance imaging or MIR can cause swelling or burning of the part of the body that is inked.
Some tattoos react very badly with the sunlight causing allergic reactions. This happens especially with the yellow ink in the tattoos as it contains cadmium sulfide. Also mercury sulfide in red tattoo ink causes dermatitis and linchenoid allergic reactions. Pseudolymphomatous allergic reaction is a delayed allergic reaction usually happens due to the green and blue ink in the tattoo. The popular signs of an allergic reaction due to tattooing are: swelling, redness, rashes, bumps, flaking, scaly skin, appearance of purple nodules around the tattoo, etc.
Those prone to allergies should carefully analyze the consequences of getting a tattoo, because of the risk of anaphylactic shock (hypersensitive reaction), can be life threatening. The best bet in such a case would be to get a small test done, by marking a small amount of ink behind the ear, to determine if that person has an allergic reaction. In some cases, the allergies are not prominent in the early stages. You might not have a reaction in the first week or so, but that does not mean that you are lucky enough.
At times, allergies take place after a gap of a year also. The reaction caused is usually triggered by something - it may either be another tattoo (creating more exposure), change of weather conditions or even a sickness. Sadly, there is no specific way to know, how your body would react to tattoo and whether or not you would be victim of allergy. The only way you would be able to know that your body is allergic to tattoo, is after getting the tattoo impressed on the body. Carefully following the cleaning tips by the tattoo artist is one of the ways by which you can prevent any immediate reactions. Another preventive method would be to instruct the tattoo artist to use non-latex gloves.
The best way to deal with an allergic reaction to a tattoo is to not ignore it or avoid it thinking that it will go away on its own but to see a doctor immediately after the appearance of the first signs of the reaction. It would be a wise act from your side to see a dermatologist immediately to get a diagnosis on your problem. Your dermatologist will be able to analyze properly and decide how worrisome your problem is and will accordingly come up with a diagnosis. In case of a normal infection you might have to go for a course of antibiotics. But in more grave situations your doctor might have to surgically remove your tattoo to treat the allergic reaction. A word of caution is to never try and remove the tattoo yourself, it could prove fatal. Tattoo removal is a medical procedure that involves complicated processes like skin laser treatment and in some cases grafting as well.