FDA Steps Up Tattoo Safety
Tattoos are quite popular in today’s society. A Harris Poll published early in 2012 reported that 21 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. The United States has a population of a little over 314 million people. That means that nearly 66 million people have tattoos. However, just because so many people have a tattoo, it doesn’t mean there aren’t still risks involved in getting inked.
What Does the FDA Have to do With Tattoos?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration presides over everything in the United States that has a potential effect on human health. Cosmetic inks, which include tattoo inks, contain pigment to add color. As color additives, they are subject to scrutiny, but because there has been a lack of evidence of any damage overall as a result of the inks, the FDA hasn’t seen the need to heavily regulate them.
Between 2003 and 2004, the FDA received word of over 150 cases where the ink used in permanent makeup tattooing caused negative effects in people. However, the company that produced the inks in question performed a voluntary recall on them. There was an outbreak of infections early on in 2012 caused by tattoo inks that, in conjunction with new scientific research about possible problems with certain pigments in general, caused the FDA to open an investigation into whether or not they are safe to use.
Until the FDA completes its investigation, the agency recommends that those seeking tattoos ask some questions about the inks being used. Of course, you need to know what to ask when you get to the tattoo parlor.
What are Known Issues with Tattoo Inks?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some tattoo ink manufacturers do not use raw pigment sources to create ink. Some have used such things as printer ink or artist’s ink as sources of pigment. This alone should cause a person to exercise caution when getting a tattoo. Printer ink, as an example, can contain solvents. Some of those solvents contain petroleum byproducts or linseed oils.
Printer ink is perfectly safe for paper to absorb, but it is not regulated for use in or on humans. There are also occasionally problems with water. Tattoo inks are usually concentrated. Some artists use water to dilute the inks to achieve the right hues. While this can be perfectly safe, water that is not sterile, when added to the ink, can make for a very friendly environment for bacteria and viruses.
Sometimes a non-serious rash can happen. Other times, as was the case in several places around the United States in 2012 alone, infections of non- Tuberculosis Mycobacterial (NTM) are reported. Skin rashes are notoriously difficult to cure. It can take six months for a skin infection to heal, and the drugs used in treatment can cause terrible side effects.
When considering a tattoo, be cautious. Make sure the artist only uses sterile water when diluting ink and cleaning equipment, and ask for ink that has been specifically made for tattooing. Hopefully, the FDA will come up with a practical solution soon.
Infected tattoos are a serious problem. As a training ground for laser tattoos removal, New Look Laser College knows that an infected tattoo is much harder to remove and may cause permanent scarring. Use caution with tattoos.