Is a tattoo really dangerous?

Health risks of tattoos and permanent make-up

Going to a tattoo parlor should not be the result of a temporary mood, but should be carefully considered beforehand. Because a tattoo adorns your own body for life and is associated with health risks.

The effects of the color pigments introduced into the skin on the organism are still largely unexplored. What is certain is that the pigments or their breakdown products can be found elsewhere in the body. Health assessments are only available for a fraction of all possible color pigments. Therefore, the list of prohibitions of the German Tattoo Inks Ordinance offers little security. In order to better protect consumers, a law is needed that only allows color pigments and ingredients that are classified as safe in the form of a positive list.

Later removal

Anyone who is toying with the idea of ​​having the body art removed at some point should know that despite laser technology and other modern processes, scars can remain and the colors under the skin do not always completely disappear. In addition, later removal can cause additional damage to health. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) warns: "Farewell is not without risk either."

Before going to the tattoo studio, those interested should have the following key points in mind:

  • No liability for complications:
    Professional tattooists should inform customers verbally and in writing about possible risks, complications, allergies and subsequent tattoo wound care before the first stitch. In the case of existing illnesses in particular, it can also make sense to seek medical advice in advance about a tattoo and wound care. In return, future tattoo wearers have to pay the follow-up costs for complications or for tattoo removal themselves in full or for the most part. The health insurance companies usually do not cover any costs for this.
  • No tattoos for risk groups:
    The tattoo procedure is unsuitable for pregnant women or patients who take antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs due to the risk of infection. If you have heart disease, diabetes or blood clotting disorders, a tattoo is also not recommended. This also applies to people with a tendency to allergies, eczema or open wounds. Caution should also be exercised if you are allergic to nickel, as tattoo inks can contain nickel impurities.
  • Sterile hygiene in the studio:
    "Tattoo artist" is not a state-recognized training occupation, i.e. in principle anyone can open a tattoo studio. Therefore, the tattoo artist should at least have completed hygiene training. Because with improper needle sticks, the risk of inflammation and injury is great.
    Poor hygiene can cause HIV, hepatitis and other infections. Those interested in tattoos should ask before a treatment whether there is a separate room in the studio with wipeable surfaces and loungers with fresh disposable towels and whether sterile needles and instruments are used.
    The tattoo artist should only use sterile, disposable ink tubes. The water used to dilute the paints should also come from sterile disposable packs. In the meantime, there is a draft standard that defines the requirements for hygiene before and during tattooing as well as for aftercare - a good study should work according to these specifications. Checklists for studio selection, preparation and tattoo care.
  • Stitches and colors have it all:
    The stitches with the tattoo needle in deeper layers of the skin can cause infections, allergies and permanent skin damage. Some tattoo inks contain allergenic substances such as nickel or problematic azo dyes. Allergic reactions to red tattoos were observed particularly frequently. Black inks, which mainly contain the carbon black dye, are often contaminated with carcinogenic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Sunlight on the tattoo can also lead to health problems.
  • Take a close look at tattoo inks:
    Let us confirm that the tattoo color complies with the German Tattooing Agent Ordinance! Europe-wide bans on pollutants in tattoo inks are currently in the works. So far, only non-binding recommendations apply in the EU. The colors should at least bear the name and address of the manufacturer, details of the individual ingredients, the batch number, a best-before date and information on the shelf life after opening. This information should be given to you by the studio to make it easier to diagnose any allergies that may occur. Unfortunately, the ingredients of many tattoo inks are incorrectly declared.


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