Tattooing has been one of the trendiest ways to give a face-lift to your personality. A form of body art that has its roots firmly laid into the prehistoric times, tattooing has evolved in terms of fashion, style, uses as well as process. With the multitude options that have thronged the markets, it seems virtually no one has escaped from this impressive and striking art. However, with the rise in the design, pattern and demand of tattooing, have augmented the risk factors and the safety concerns as well, one such being skin infections. Though it is not necessary that every person, who gets a tattoo engraved on his/her skin, has to suffer from infection, but the risk factor cannot be completely ignored as well.
Causes & Symptoms
Though the dangers associated with tattooing persists, but infection from tattooing in clean and modern tattoo studios is rare. The contagion caused can range from being minor, as in case of surface infection, to extremely serious one, as in case of Staphylococcus aurous infections that can cause craniological damage. Some of the skin infections that can be caused, as a result of tattooing, are impetigo, cellulitis, herpes simplex, tetanus, staph, fungal infections, transmission of syphilis, leprosy and viral warts.
The contagion caused is generally transmitted through unsterilized tattoo equipment or contaminated ink. The most common symptoms of the skin infections caused, due to tattooing, are inflammation on and around the tattooed part of the body. Usually, the skin near the area becomes tender to touch. There may even be a swelling or discharge of blood from the spot. It is not common that after undergoing the process of tattooing, a person falls sick. Continuous pain even after 48 hours, can lead to skin infection.
There has been a recent discovery of another kind of bacterial infection caused by tattooing. This bacterial infection is caused by a discrete bacteria related to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis. It is called mycobacterium chelonae. This bacterium does not cause any life threatening disease but it can cause a cluster of very itchy, pus-filled blisters on the tattooed area. It does not get resolved easily and take months to clear out, that too with the help of harsh antibiotics. These antibiotics are also known to have some very strong side effects. But some extreme cases require for a removal of the entire affected area, which leaves a big scar on that particular part of the body. This bacterium is generally found in the ink or the non-sterile water used to dilate the ink. It is usually found in the tap water and causes infection when this water is used to lighten the dark inks. Manufacturers try to fight these bacteria by adding witch hazel and alcohol preservatives to their ink; in order to lower the risk of viral and bacterial infections, but chelonae is resistant to any kind of disinfectant. This means that not just the non-sterile needles or unsanitary situation at the parlor are the only sources of bacterial infections on or around the tattooed region, the water used in the ink has also got a huge impact on the tattoo. Therefore, it is not just enough to use distilled water to lighten the ink but the water should be properly sterilized.
People, who are susceptible to infection, must be aware of the dangers that tattooing can have. The ideal step would be to consult a physician, before getting a tattoo done. The best way to reduce the risk of infection can be by following obvious precautions. The parlor should be cleaned, sinks with hot water and soap should be available in the washroom as well as in the studio, tattoo artists should wash their hands regularly and wear latex gloves, surfaces should be cleaned with disinfectant, floors should appear clean and proper procedures for sterilizing equipment should also be followed strictly. The best bet would be to get tattooed with a new, disposable sterile needle. Also, make sure that the tattoo artist uses fresh ink for each session, placing small amounts in disposable containers, which are specifically used for one client only. Getting a tattoo done on the body is great. However, you should be well aware of the aftercare instructions and products that you need to use. This way, you can reduce the chances of your skin being infected, considerably.
If you do notice something strange happening to your tattoo like it is still hurting long time after getting it done and the skin around it is tender to touch, then you do have an infection. You must see a dermatologist or a doctor in order to get a proper analysis done on the affected part of the body. Whatever you do, do not try to treat the infection yourself because you ever know how severe the infection is and what kind of medical attention it needs.