Tattoos have moved from being a watermark of rebels and social outcasts to the most trending fashion styles identified with celebrities around the world.
Tattooing is no doubt one of the fast growing means young people use to beautify their bodies. It is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.
The word “tattoo” was first written in 1769 and comes from the Polynesian noun tatau, which means “mark made on the skin.”
People have different reasons for getting tattoos. While many young adults get tattoos based on drunken whimsy, others take it seriously as their body art fraught with meaning and symbolism.
Other reasons why people get tattooed include:
- To Commemorate personal or shared experiences.
- Remind oneself of personal milestones/achievements
- Remember a loved one who has passed away among many other reasons
However, it is important to note that our reasoning for getting tattooed usually changes over time. Years back it was symbolic but in this time and age, it could be a way of expressing one’s self.
Some young adults see body piercing as a way of taking back their bodies that they don’t believe they were responsible for creating.
The top 10 most popular spots for tattoos are lower back, wrist, foot, ankle, armband, back-piece, arm, chest, breast, and neck. Funny as it could sound, your skin is pricked between 50 to 3,000 times a minute when you are getting a tattoo.
Again, the chainsaw juggling, unicycling, sword-swallowing Lucky Diamond Rich (Australia, born New Zealand), who has spent over 1,000 hours having his body modified by hundreds of tattoo artists, is currently the most tattooed man in the world, according to the Guinness world record book.
Health Risks Of having Tattoos on the Skin
Medical experts are, however, concerned about the dangers of tattoos to human health. While tattoo health and safety regulations focus on short-term risks -like infections, little is actually known about the long-term risks of living with ink under your skin.
Some of the issues of major concerns about the body inking the artists are yet to answer include:
How the tattoo ink is made: The bottom line is that every brand and colour of tattoo ink has a different ingredients but since the makers won’t tell you what’s in their products, it is clearly a case of buyer beware. It is believed that Tattoo inks may be made from titanium dioxide, lead, chromium, nickel, iron oxides, ash, carbon black, and other ingredients. Some of the pigments are industrial grade and used as automobile paint. In a nutshell, tattoo ingredients, according to this belief, is not complete without the use of metals.
It is also believed that some tattoo inks are made by melting down boot heels and mixing it with blood and urine. Though investigations are underway to provide proofs on these two beliefs, the fact still remains that there is no proof that these ink ingredients are safe, being injected into the body.
Common Ingredients of Inks by Color
Red: mercury, cadmium, iron, ferrocyanide, ferricyanide, naptha derived chemicals
Orange: cadmium, azo chemicals
Yellow: lead, cadmium, zinc, ferrocyanide, ferricyanide, azo chemicals
Green: lead, chromium, aluminum, copper, ferrocyanide, ferricyanide, azo chemicals
Blue: cobalt, copper, ferrocyanide, ferricyanide
Violet: aluminum, azo chemicals
Brown: iron, azo chemicals
Black: nickel, iron, carbon as soot or ash, black henna
White: lead, zinc, titanium, barium
Infections and Allergies: Study shows that between one and five percent of tattooed people suffer a bacterial infection, and some people can have allergic reactions to the ink. These are, however, short-term effects. It is difficult to measure the long-term effects of ink since tattoo inks are in most countries classified as cosmetics.
The truth remains that infection is not common after tattooing. The following skin infections have been reported common to the body ink:
- Herpes simplex
- Viral warts
- Atypical mycobacterial infection
- Transmission of serious blood-borne infections
- scaly and flaky rashes
- Viral hepatitis
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
However, the two most common hypersensitivity reactions to tattoo pigments are what scientists call allergic contact dermatitis (caused by caused mercury sulphide, which is found in red tattoo ink) and photoallergic dermatitis (caused by cadmium sulfide which is found in Yellow and some red pigments. You get these reactions when exposed to the sun.)
Medical experts, therefore, emphasize the need to undergo the procedure in a clean environment using sterile equipment.
Other related health hazards associated to Tattooing include:
- Hematoma: This is a bruise which may appear if a blood vessel is punctured during the tattooing procedure. These bruises can either appear large or as halos around the tattoo. The bluish or dark blurry halo surrounding tattoos is attributed to ink diffusion or ‘blow-out’.
- Blood thinners: A regimen of blood thinners may affect the tattooing process, causing excess bleeding. This increased bleeding can slow the process of getting enough ink into the skin. The aftercare healing may also take longer.
More serious tattoo-induced skin disorders include sarcoidosis, lichen planis and lupus-like reactions. These skin problems can be more long-lasting and leave permanent scars.
Before you get something permanently etched into your skin, you should take time to remember that if you ever get sick of it, getting rid of it is expensive and extremely painful. You could also end up with a scar where your tattoo formerly was. So many people go to health centres to get rid of old tattoos because of the complications that have arisen from them over time.
You should also take into account that you may one day gain weight, which may cause your tattoo to stretch and warp. The same is also true of pregnancy, which is why it is best for women to avoid tattooing their chests and stomach area as an artistic canvas.
Modern Alternatives To Try
If you want a tattoo but you are not sure if you’ll still like it later, Biodegradable inks that are less toxic and much easier to get rid of than the traditional ink are currently being developed. The only inconvenience of these inks is that they’re much more expensive than the regular ink and also can be quite difficult to come by.
It is very important to keep in mind and check for the ink quality even if you think you’re saving money at the start. This is because cheap tattoos can end up being quite expensive if they later require medical attention or need to be removed due to complications.