Think before you ink because tattoos are permanent and removal is difficult and expensive. A tattoo is a permanent body art made by puncturing the skin with needles and injecting ink into the deep layer of the skin. People get tattoos for beauty, while others have different meanings and symbolism, such as religion or membership in an organization.
Street tattoos shops have increased in towns and cities in Africa. The equipment has become cheap and easily accessible by trained, untrained, or “at home” artists. The cheap tattoos equipment combined with untrained and self-artist is a huge health and social risk to people who are getting tattooed. Imagine getting scarifications or poorly designed art on your face? Infections spread from unhygienic practices, unsterilized equipment or contaminated ink can result in serious infections or even death.
Tattoo ink has chemicals compounds that are toxic to your health or even cause cancer. Some components used in making tattoo ink such as barium, copper, mercury, and others are not safe for human health. According to the Food and Drug Administration, many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printers ink or automobile paint that are unsafe for your health. Tattoo ink can cause severe or mild allergic reactions, such as an itchy rash or scarification at the tattoo site. Tattoo dyes such as red, green, yellow, and blue dyes can cause allergic skin reactions, which can occur years after you get the tattoo.
Any skin penetration is a risk of infection. Tattooing breaks the skin and may cause bleeding, open wounds, and infections resulting in permanent deformity, scarring, severe illness, and even death. Unprofessional and self-artists in tattooing lack proper equipment such as an autoclave for sterilization of needles, which allows infections to spread. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common infection associated with tattooing. Staphylococcus skin infections are caused by poor skin preparation or equipment sterilization from an untrained tattoo artist. The infection is serious and life-threatening, as antibiotic-resistant strains are becoming more prevalent worldwide. Sometimes, tattoo ink can cause inflammation called granuloma around the tattoo site.
Getting a tattoo from an unprofessional artist can lead to blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV. Blood-borne diseases can occur due to equipment contamination with infected blood from one person to another. Tattoos can cause swelling or burning in the affected areas during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. In some cases, tattoo pigments can interfere with the image quality on MRI or during pathological examination of tissues.
It is important to verify the work of your artist before getting tattooed. Always ask to see portfolios of healed work that has been done before considering getting tattooed by the artist. You should make sure the tattoo studio is clean, and the equipment used is sterile. You should see needles and other equipment removed from sealed, sterile containers. If you have a medical problem such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes, skin problems like eczema or psoriasis, a weakened immune system, or a bleeding problem, consult your doctor before getting a tattoo.
Tattooing has increased worldwide and the number of kids getting tattooed has increased greatly, hence parents should engage their children in the pros and cons of getting tattooed.
You should make sure you get vaccinated against hepatitis B, tetanus, or any other relevant disease before getting a tattoo.