A few years ago, the majority of my social circle was ink-free. Today the opposite is true. Most of the people I know, myself included, have a tattoo somewhere on their body. They vary in size, color, design and meaning, but they are there. This change doesn’t stem from the formation of a tattoo-obsessed clique or the passing of our eighteenth birthdays, but rather from a growing trend. Tattoos have become one of the most popular symbols of self-expression in today’s society. And with this growth in occurrence, comes a growing concern for their safety.
A permanent tattoo is made by injecting colored ink below the skin’s surface with needles. As with any type of injection, there are numerous risks involved. Improperly sanitized or shared instruments can spread infections such as HIV and hepatitis. Adverse reactions to the pigments can stimulate allergies. Unanticipated scarring and small bumps can occur around the image, and complications with MRIs can result. These dangers are rare yet real, so if you are considering a tattoo, consider the following first:
• The FDA does not currently regulate the inks and pigments used in tattoos. That may change soon, as studies are ongoing, but for now the ink’s safety is in the hands of the manufacturer.
• If you are getting a tattoo, you are committing yourself to properly caring for it. You must tend to it as instructed by your tattoo artist. If he’s reputable, he’ll give you a list of needed items and directions on how to use them. If he’s not, you probably don’t want to be in that parlor.
• Ignoring a problem leads to more. If an infection occurs, see your doctor immediately.
• Tattoos are permanent. Make sure this is something you really want. You’ll spend a lot more time and money getting one removed than you will getting one. If you aren’t sure about location, size or likeability, test out your tattoo-love with a temporary one. They fade in a few days and, as a bonus, don’t carry the same risks as permanent ones.
• Today’s trend can become tomorrow’s blight. Don’t get caught up in the fads. Find an image that suits your personality and satisfies your desire for self-expression.
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