Does Tattooing Boost Health? (2022)

Essay / Decoded

An anthropological study in the Samoan Islands explores the cultural purpose and biological effects oftatau.

ByChristopher D. Lynn

31 Oct 2019

Does Tattooing Boost Health? (1)

This article was originally published at The Conversation and has been republished under Creative Commons.

I lay on the mat of the open-air bungalow in Apia, Samoa, looking up at a gecko. As its tail quivered, I felt a sympathetic twitch in my leg. Su’a Sulu’ape Paulo III, the sixth-generation Samoan hand-tap tattoo master leaning over me, paused to see if my movement was due to pain.

I’d been in Samoa for a month, studying Samoan tattooing culture and the impact of the big traditional pieces called pe’a and malutatau in general—on the immune system. Now I was getting my own hand-tapped leg tattoo, albeit considerably smaller.

(Video) This Is What Tattoos Do To Our IMMUNE SYSTEM

This field season was the fourth of my research on the relationship between tattooing and immune response. My first study had focused on a small sample, mostly women, in Alabama. What I’d observed among that group suggested that tattooing could help beef up one’s immune response.

But one small study in the United States wasn’t proof of anything—despite headlines blaring that tattoos could cure the common cold. Good science means finding the same results multiple times and then interpreting them to understand something about the world.

That’s why I traveled in 2018 with fellow anthropologist Michaela Howells to the Samoan Islands. Samoans have a long, continuous history of extensive tattooing. Working with contemporary machine and hand-tap tattooists in American Samoa, we wanted to see if we’d find the same link to enhanced immune response.

Immune defenders rush to tattoo’s tiny wounds

More than30 percent of Americansare tattooed today. Yet few studies have focused on the biological impact beyond risks ofcancerorinfection.

Tattooing creates a permanent image by inserting ink into tiny punctures under the topmost layer of skin. Your body interprets a new tattoo as a wound andresponds accordingly, in two general ways.

Innate immune responses involve general reactions to foreign material. So getting a new tattoo triggers your immune system to send white blood cells called macrophages toeat invadersand sacrifice themselves to protect against infection.

Your body also launches what immunologists call adaptive responses. Proteins in the blood will try to fight and disable specific invaders that they recognize as problems. There are several classes of these proteins—called antibodies or immunoglobulins—and they continue tocirculate in the bloodstream, on the lookout lest that same invader is encountered again. They’re at the ready to quickly launch an immune response the next time around.

This adaptive capacity of the immune system means that we could measure immunoglobulins in saliva as approximations of previous stress caused by tattooing.

(Video) 7 Proven HEALTH BENEFITS You Get From Having Tattoos

In American Samoa, Howells and I worked at theHistoric Preservation Officeto recruit study participants with help from tattoo artists Joe Ioane ofOff Da Rock Tattoos, Duffy Hudson ofTatau Manaia, and traditional hand-tap tattooist Su’a Tupuola Uilisone Fitiao. Our sample of 25 tattoo recipients included both Samoans and tourists to the island.

We collected saliva at the start and end of each tattoo session, controlling for the tattoo duration. We also measured recipients’ weight, height, and fat density to account for health. From the saliva samples, we extracted the antibody immunoglobulin A, as well as the stress hormone cortisol and inflammatory marker C-reactive protein.Immunoglobulin Ais considered a frontline immune defense and provides important protections against frequent pathogens like those of the common cold.

By comparing the levels of these biological markers,we determinedthat immunoglobulin A remains higher in the bloodstream, even after tattoos heal. Furthermore, people with more time under the tattoo needle produced more salivary immunoglobulin A, suggesting an enhanced immune response to receiving a new tattoo compared to those with less or no tattoo experience. This effect appears to be dependent on receiving multiple tattoos, not just time passed since receiving one. This immune boost may be beneficial in the case ofother skin injuriesand forhealth in general.

Tattooing seems to exert a priming effect: That’swhat biologists call itwhen naive immune cells are exposed to their specific antigen and differentiate into antibodies that remain in the bloodstream for many years. Each tattoo prepares the body to respond to the next.

Other studies find thatshort-term stress benefitsthe immune system. Stress’ bad rap comes from chronic forms thatreally do undermineimmune response and health. But a little bit is actually good for you and prepares your body to fight off germs. Regular exercise provides immune functionbenefits through repetition, not necessarily single visits to the gym. We think this is similar to how each tattoo seems to prepare the body for vigilance.

Our Samoan findings supported the results of my first study in Alabama. But of course correlation does not imply causation. Enhanced immune response is correlated with more tattoo experience, but maybe healthier people heal easily from tattooing and like to get them more. How could we find out if getting tattoos could actually make a person healthier?

“Tatau belongs to Samoa”

Samoans have theoldest continuous tattoo culturein the Pacific Islands. Though many Samoans complain that young people are getting tatau for fashion, most get them to honor their heritage, saying their tattoo belongs not to them but to Samoan culture.

Samoans usually obtain permission from family to receive pe’a and malu. Getting and wearing these tattoos involve many responsibilities and indicate a willingness to serve one’s community.

Several of the Samoans in our sample had little interest in getting other tattoos, and one even reported being afraid of needles. They get pe’a and malu for the importance of these tattoos to their cultural identity, not because they are fashionable ways to show off. The social expectations for Samoans mean that getting pe’a or malu is less about self-motivated fashion choices than getting a tattoo is in the U.S. This is why Samoa is a great place to investigate whether the immune bump we see after tattooing is due to healthier people going under the needle in the first place—in Samoa, people of all body types and walks of life get them, fromprieststopoliticians.

In July 2019, I focused on collecting multiple biological samples from people getting intensive tattoos in Apia, where they are administered daily in the center of town. I collected around 50 saliva samples from a dozen participants that will be analyzed in the coming year byanthropological immunologistMichael Muehlenbein.

An evolutionary take on tattoos

Tattoos may providevisual evidence that others home in on toidentify healthy matesor hardy friends. Such signals of fitness have been compared to peacock tail feathers, which would be too much of a burden if the peacock were not hale enough to escape predators.Does Tattooing Boost Health? (4)

(Video) HEALTH REPORT: Tattoos could boost immune response

Even in the modern environment with improved health care, tattoos may “up the ante” by artificially injuring the body to demonstrate health. In a study I conducted amongnearly 7,000 undergraduates, male intercollegiate athletes in general and football players in particular were more likely to be tattooed than nonathletes and less likely to suffer tattoo-related medical problems than those nonathletes who were tattooed.

It’s not clear that the benefits tattooing provides are big enough to make a clinical difference on health, so don’t expect a new tattoo to cancel out a diet of cheeseburgers and fries. But there is no doubt that tattooing is associated with toughness and that we humans influence one another through impressions as much as reality.

Does Tattooing Boost Health? (5)

Christopher D. Lynn is a biocultural medical anthropologist who studies cultural impacts on health and human cognitive evolution. He received his Ph.D. from the University at Albany, SUNY, and is currently an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Alabama. He is a co-editor of the volume Evolution Education in the American South: Culture, Politics, and Resources In and Around Alabama and is working on a book about dissociation and consciousness. He is currently conducting research on tattooing and immune response among Pacific Islanders, developing an anthropology outreach program for elementary students, and co-hosting the Sausage of Science podcast. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Ly.

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(Video) Tattoo Ink: Is it Safe or Dangerous?

FAQs

Do tattoos have health benefits? ›

Tattoos reduce stress

It was tested in the study because cortisol is an immune response suppressant. Multiple tattoos were found to reduce cortisol levels, improving the immune system benefits of tattoos, but also helping with stress reduction.

Can tattoos improve your immune system? ›

According to new research from the University of Alabama (UA), receiving multiple tattoos can actively strengthen immunological responses and increase the body's ability to fight off generic infections such as the common cold.

What do tattoos do to your blood? ›

Though uncommon, an unclean tattoo needle can carry a number of bloodborne viruses, such as: hepatitis B. hepatitis C. HIV.

Can we donate blood after tattoo? ›

If you have recently had a tattoo or body piercing you cannot donate for 6 months from the date of the procedure. If the body piercing was performed by a registered health professional and any inflammation has settled completely, you can donate blood after 12 hours.

Do white blood cells fight tattoos? ›

Innate immune responses involve general reactions to foreign material. So getting a new tattoo triggers your immune system to send white blood cells called macrophages to eat invaders and sacrifice themselves to protect against infection.

What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›

Today they're common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”

What are the long term effects of tattoos? ›

One long-term effect of getting inked: microscopic ink particles can seep past your skin and get into other parts of your body. A new study sounds the alarm. When you think about the health risks of getting a tattoo, problems that reveal themselves right away come to mind—like infections and allergic reactions.

Can tattoo ink affect your brain? ›

Tattoo Inks Carry Carcinogenic Nanoparticles

These nanoparticles can be carcinogenic, causing damage to the brain or the nervous system.

Is tattoo ink toxic to the body? ›

“Tattoo inks and permanent make up (PMU) may contain hazardous substances -- for example, substances that cause cancer, genetic mutations, toxic effects on reproduction, allergies or other adverse effects on health,” an ECHA statement reads.

Can a tattoo hit a vein? ›

Tattoos involve applying pressure on your skin with a needle, which can rupture the vein, making it bleed into the surrounding tissue and cause an infection,” she says. If you have varicose veins, Chimento goes on to explain, this could make things worse and result in veins that protrude even further.

Why tattoos are not allowed in government job? ›

Health-issue: Tattoo can cause hazardous skin diseases, serious blood-borne diseases, and increases the risk of HIV, Hepatitis A & B, tetanus, allergies, etc. All these medical tests are very costly and the Army cannot afford to test all the candidates with body tattoo.

What are the disadvantages of getting a tattoo? ›

Know the risks
  • Allergic reactions. Tattoo dyes — especially red, green, yellow and blue dyes — can cause allergic skin reactions, such as an itchy rash at the tattoo site. ...
  • Skin infections. A skin infection is possible after tattooing.
  • Other skin problems. ...
  • Bloodborne diseases. ...
  • MRI complications.

How painful is a tattoo? ›

How bad do tattoos hurt? There's no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how much pain you'll feel when getting tattooed. But if you're wondering what type of pain to expect, Caranfa says the experience is comparable to the feeling of a cat scratch or a sunburn.

Can I get an MRI with a tattoo? ›

The researchers found that the risk of experiencing tattoo-related side effects from MRI is very small. This means people with tattoos can safely undergo MRI without worry.

What tattoo poisoning feels like? ›

Headaches. Nausea. Vomiting. Consuming significant amounts of ink, especially printing ink, can result in severe symptoms affecting the central nervous system.

Does getting a tattoo make you tired? ›

Symptoms Of a Tattoo Flu

Well, just like the regular sickness of flu, the tattoo flu manifests through the following symptoms; Fever. Cold chills. Fatigue and tiredness.

Why do people decide to get tattoos? ›

Peer pressure, media influence, and personal expression are some of the common reasons for wearing tattoos today. The desire to be part of a group, to be accepted by one's friends or peers, can have a great influence on what a person does. Sometimes, wearing a tattoo can be a sign that you belong to a certain group.

Are tattoos unbiblical? ›

While there's no speculation that Christianity forbids tattoos, there's also no permission saying that it's permitted. A lot of people like to make an analysis of the Biblical verses and draw their conclusions, so finally, tattooing is an individual choice.

Is body art a sin? ›

There is no mention of body modifications or tattoos written in the New Testament at all. Since there is not an explicit command against the modern-day concept of tattoos, it would mean that it is not a sin to get one.

What happens to tattoos as you age? ›

They'll Change

Lyle Tuttle, a big-name tattoo artist, told the San Jose Mercury News that as your skin changes as you age, so too will your tattoos. They can stretch and sag as your skin does, wrinkle, of course, as your skin does, and sometimes even become a less clear, blurrier image.

Can tattoos affect your heart? ›

If you are at risk of endocarditis , you should avoid piercing and be very careful if you get a tattoo. During the tattooing and piercing process you risk bacteria entering your blood stream, which will then continue to your heart.

Do tattoos affect your liver? ›

Are tattoos bad for your liver? Tattoo ink may get accumulated in the liver and kidneys over a prolonged period of time but as such does not directly affect the liver. Indirectly, tattoos may cause severe liver damage due to hepatitis infection.

What are the pros and cons of having a tattoo? ›

Top 10 Tattoos Pros & Cons – Summary List
Tattoos ProsTattoos Cons
Tattoos can make you more attractiveTattoos can be expensive
Can cover up your skinGetting tattoos can be painful
Getting tattoos may increase your confidenceTattoos will fade over time
Tattoos can help you remember loved onesYou may choose the wrong design
6 more rows

What are the cons of getting a tattoo? ›

Disadvantages of Tattoos
  • May Limit Your Career Path. While society is getting increasingly open to tattoos every day, there is as yet a taboo with body art that might influence the sort of occupation you get in life. ...
  • People May Keep on Asking. ...
  • Health Risk. ...
  • It's Permanent. ...
  • It can be Painful. ...
  • Allergies.

Are tattoos good for mental health? ›

Some mental health experts say getting a tattoo can be a helpful part of a person's healing process, allowing them to view parts of themselves or their mental health history in a different light.

Does getting a tattoo release endorphins? ›

Tattoos cause at least some pain, even if you tolerate it well. The endorphins your body releases during tattooing can make you feel good and cause a euphoric feeling. This feeling may linger for a little while, and it's not unusual to want to experience it again.

Why tattoos are not allowed in govt jobs? ›

Health-issue: Tattoo can cause hazardous skin diseases, serious blood-borne diseases, and increases the risk of HIV, Hepatitis A & B, tetanus, allergies, etc. All these medical tests are very costly and the Army cannot afford to test all the candidates with body tattoo.

What are the long term effects of tattoos? ›

One long-term effect of getting inked: microscopic ink particles can seep past your skin and get into other parts of your body. A new study sounds the alarm. When you think about the health risks of getting a tattoo, problems that reveal themselves right away come to mind—like infections and allergic reactions.

What does the Bible say about tattoos? ›

Today they're common everywhere from Maori communities in New Zealand to office parks in Ohio. But in the ancient Middle East, the writers of the Hebrew Bible forbade tattooing. Per Leviticus 19:28, “You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves.”

Why can't you have an MRI after a tattoo? ›

Tattoo Ink and MRIs

MRI machines use powerful magnets and radio waves to create detailed pictures of the soft tissues of the body, such as joints and organs. Tattoos sometimes have metal particles( like iron) in the ink, which can interact with the magnetic and radio waves of an MRI, and become irritated.

What are the advantages of permanent tattoo? ›

Doing Tattoo
  • It helps improve the immune system. ...
  • It reduces cortisol levels in the body. ...
  • Multiple tattoos help weightlifters and bodybuilders. ...
  • Apparent tattoos can get you hired too. ...
  • Tattoos can improve vaccination methods. ...
  • Tattoos increase self-confidence. ...
  • Tattoos make people feel good.
13 Aug 2020

Why do people get tattoos? ›

Peer pressure, media influence, and personal expression are some of the common reasons for wearing tattoos today. The desire to be part of a group, to be accepted by one's friends or peers, can have a great influence on what a person does. Sometimes, wearing a tattoo can be a sign that you belong to a certain group.

Why are tattoos important? ›

The history of tattooing goes back for thousands of years, and the reasons for getting tattooed are many. These permanent markings are always personal, they can be plain or elaborate, and they serve as amulets, healing and status symbols, declarations of love, signs of religion, adornments and even forms of punishment.

Are tattooed people happier? ›

One study of 82 people with tattoos conducted by Swami and published in the journal Body Image found that people have “significantly” less anxiety and dissatisfaction with their appearance immediately after getting a tattoo.

Why do tattoos relax me? ›

When you get a tattoo, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are naturally occurring chemicals that are produced by your body to relieve stress and pain.

Do tattoos affect the brain? ›

Tattoo Inks Carry Carcinogenic Nanoparticles

It has been proven that black tattoo ink carries these particles in the smallest size, and white ink carries them in the largest size. These nanoparticles can be carcinogenic, causing damage to the brain or the nervous system.

Why am I so tired after a tattoo? ›

Don't panic. This “tattoo flu” is pretty common and should fade into memory in a few days (unlike your new tattoo). Your body's immune system is making you feel wiped out while it attacks potential threats to your bod. Be on the lookout for a mild fever, chills, fatigue, and some tummy discomfort.

Where does the Bible say tattoos are a sin? ›

The Bible warns against tattoos in Leviticus 19:28 (Amplified) which says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”

We love tattoos, but whoever knew they were doing so much good? Uncover 7 scientific ways tattoos contribute to a healthier you.

A first tattoo does not have the same effect as multiple tattoos.. Multiple tattoos were found to reduce cortisol levels, improving the immune system benefits of tattoos, but also helping with stress reduction.. The downside is that tattoo delivery is more painful – it is a tattoo after all, than a traditional needle.. Yes, getting a tattoo does hurt – but it’s the body’s response to this pain that makes getting tattooed feel so good.. After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer delivers effective skin moisturization and helps to preserve the colours of your tattoos.

Benefits of Getting Tattoos

Tattoos are a form of body modification on the skin made by way of ink and needles or dyes and pigments.. The art of putting a tattoo is called tattooing.. Benefits of Getting Tattoos. Four or more tattoo respondents had significantly higher self-esteem than those with fewer tattoos.. why you shouldn’t get a tattoo?. Below are the cons of having tattoos.. While society is getting increasingly open to tattoos every day, there is as yet a taboo with body art that might influence the sort of occupation you get in life.. Some tattoo inks have been known to cause hypersensitive responses.. Tattoos stick permanently on your body, and it is human nature to despise a few things later on in life, which we like right now.. For example, imagine you getting into the tattoo shop, and you start wiggling once the tattoo artist starts using the “gun” and your tattoo gets screwed up.. Many people have sensitive skin which develops various sorts of reactions to tattoo ink.

Getting a tattoo can be more than a permanent decision, it can affect your health.

Based on an estimate of about 60 million people in that age group, that would mean that about 7.5 million people have tattoo regret.. The European Society of Tattoo and Pigment Research was established in 2013 with a mission of educating the public about the “fundamental facts about tattooing” which many in the younger generations ignore.. More recently, the Food and Drug Administration has become more involved with tattoo inks, stating “Many pigments used in tattoo inks are industrial-grade colors suitable for printers’ ink or automobile paint.” Like the studies started overseas, the agency is now examining the chemical composition of inks and pigments and how they break down in the body, as well their short- and long-term safety .. For instance, two case studies detail patients who suffered MRI-induced burns in their tattoos that were attributed to iron compounds in tattoo pigments.. Three percent of tattoos get infected, and almost four percent of people who get tattoos recount pain lasting more than a month, a 2015 study from Tulane University School of Medicine found.. It is the reason the American Red Cross restricts blood donations from individuals with newer tattoos done outside of regulated tattoo facilities.. A study from Tulane University added credence to these blood donation restrictions by showing that 17 percent of all participants had at least one tattoo done somewhere other than a tattoo parlor, and 21 percent admitted to being intoxicated while receiving at least one of their tattoos.. The primary reason Harris Poll respondents reported tattoo regret was they “were too young when they had it done.” The second most common reason, which coincides with the first, is the tattoo “didn’t fit their present lifestyle.”. Understandably, people who have many friends and family with tattoos are generally less stigmatized regarding their tattoo, and tend to suffer less tattoo regret, a study in The Social Science Journal reported in 2014.. But the study also found that when tattooed respondents were exposed to individuals without tattoos, like in the workplace or institutions of higher learning, more stigma victimization occurred, and those impacted were more likely to suffer regret and ponder removal.. Getting a tattoo, which is akin to a life-changing (and body-changing) decision, when young is really no different from getting married young ( 32 percent regret rate ) or choosing a college major ( 37 percent change rate ).. Laser complications include pain, blistering, scarring and, in some cases, a darkening of the tattoo ink can occur, according to dermatologists.. With such a large number considering tattoos at a young age, informing young people of the health and social risks could help them avoid tattoos they may come to regret.

To date, there’s no definitive proof that getting a tattoo causes skin cancer. Learn about other health risks more commonly associated with tattoos and how to protect yourself.

Tattoos can potentially lead to a number of risks, including skin infections, allergic reactions, and scarring.. Such risks may increase if you don’t see a licensed tattoo artist or if the wound itself heals improperly.. Getting a tattoo alone is unlikely to cause skin cancer , but there may be risks associated with certain ingredients in tattoo ink.. Yet it’s still important to ask your tattoo artist what types of inks they use, what the ingredients are, and where they come from.. Making sure you receive quality ink that’s designed for tattooing may help protect you against possible cancer risks.. Skin infections, allergic reactions, and scratching at your tattoo wound can also increase these risks.. If your tattoo does scar, you may be left with uneven ink along with raised bumps of scar tissue called keloids .. While there is not a definitive causal relationship between tattoos and cancer, both hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS are associated with increased risk of different types of cancer.. licensing and experience sanitation practices process for handling and disposing materials policy of wearing gloves inks, and what types they use — the inks used should be intended for tattooing portfolio of work. You should also consider getting a skin check from a dermatologist before getting a tattoo, especially if the area of skin you want to get inked contains moles or other skin growths.. In some cases, a tattoo can cover up skin issues, which could make possible skin cancers more difficult to detect.. Call your tattoo artist if you notice any signs of infection or discoloration in your new ink.. Until more is known about the carcinogenic properties of certain inks, you may consider asking your tattoo artist whether their pigments contain any metals, plastics, or other potentially harmful materials.. Despite concerns over cancer and tattooing, there are other risks that are far more likely to occur if you see an unlicensed artist, or if you don’t follow your aftercare instructions.

More than 30% of Americans are tattooed today. Yet, few studies have focused on the biological impact beyond risks of cancer or infection.

I’d been in Samoa for a month, studying Samoan tattooing culture and the impact of the big traditional pieces called pe’a and malu – tatau in general – on the immune system.. So getting a new tattoo triggers your immune system to send white blood cells called macrophages to eat invaders and sacrifice themselves to protect against infection.. This adaptive capacity of the immune system means that we could measure immunoglobulins in saliva as approximations of previous stress caused by tattooing.. In American Samoa, Howells and I worked at the Historic Preservation Office to recruit study participants with help from tattoo artists Joe Ioane of Off Da Rock Tattoos , Duffy Hudson of Tatau Manaia and traditional hand-tap tattooist Su’a Tupuola Uilisone Fitiao.. Our sample of 25 tattoo recipients included both Samoans and tourists to the island.. We collected saliva at the start and end of each tattoo session, controlling for the tattoo duration.. Furthermore, people with more time under the tattoo needle produced more salivary immunoglobulin A, suggesting an enhanced immune response to receiving a new tattoo compared to those with less or no tattoo experience.. Tattooing seems to exert a priming effect: That’s what biologists call it when naive immune cells are exposed to their specific antigen and differentiate into antibodies that remain in the bloodstream for many years.. Each tattoo prepares the body to respond to the next.. Enhanced immune response is correlated with more tattoo experience, but maybe healthier people heal easily from tattooing and like to get them more.. The social expectations for Samoans mean that getting pe’a or malu is less about self-motivated fashion choices than getting a tattoo is in the U.S.. This is why Samoa is a great place to investigate whether the immune bump we see after tattooing is due to healthier people going under the needle in the first place – in Samoa people of all body types and walks of life get them, from priests to politicians.. Even in the modern environment with improved health care, tattoos may “ up the ante ” by artificially injuring the body to demonstrate health.. In a study I conducted among nearly 7,000 undergraduates , male intercollegiate athletes in general and football players in particular were more likely to be tattooed than nonathletes and less likely to suffer tattoo-related medical problems than those nonathletes who were tattooed.. It’s not clear that the benefits tattooing provides are big enough to make a clinical difference on health, so don’t expect a new tattoo to cancel out a diet of cheeseburgers and fries.

The health advantages of tattoos are often ignored. In this post, we take a look at 15 of the best scientific health benefits of tattoos.

The first tattoo doesn’t have the same effect as multiple tattoos.. Several tattoos have been found to reduce cortisol levels, enhance the effects of tattoos in the immune system, but also help reduce Pressure.. Yes, having a tattoo hurts–but it’s the body’s response to this pain that makes it feel so amazing to get tattooed.. The type of tattoos you get focuses on Who you are, and the individual style that each artist has helped to make your tattoos so much more special.. Individuals who fell in love with tattoos have described tattoos as art.. Through proper care and the aid of new and improved tattoo inks, your tattoos will look great for years to come!. Notwithstanding how people think tattoos could look as you age, we’ve all recently discovered that tattoos actually make you look better when you’re older!

Tattoo inks are not regulated by the FDA despite increasing evidence of negative short-term and long-term effects, including skin cancer and auto-immune disorders.

The chemical make-up of tattoo inks and how the inks are broken down by the body Short- and long-term impact of tattoo ink pigments Body response to inks with sunlight and laser. Reports indicate allergic reactions to tattoo inks are most common with red and yellow inks as well as white ink.. Sarcoidosis cases traced to red ink, black ink, and multiple colors of ink.. HIV/AIDS hepatitis skin infections. Laser removal of tattoos has been shown to generate new chemical compounds that travel through the blood and lymph vessels.. I had no idea that such toxic chemicals are used in the tattooing inks.

Allergic reactions, skin infections and bloodborne disease are all possible tattoo complications. Know how to protect yourself.

Tattoo dyes — especially red, green, yellow and blue dyes — can cause allergic skin reactions, such as an itchy rash at the tattoo site.. A skin infection is possible after tattooing.. Medication or other treatment might be needed if you experience an allergic reaction to the tattoo ink or you develop an infection or other skin problem near a tattoo.. Don't allow yourself to be pressured into getting a tattoo, and don't get a tattoo if you're under the influence of alcohol or drugs.. Who does the tattooing?. If you think your tattoo might be infected or you're concerned that your tattoo isn't healing properly, contact your doctor.. If your tattoo isn't what you expected and you're interested in tattoo removal, ask your dermatologist about laser surgery or other options for tattoo removal.

Recent research deepens our understanding of how tattoos are perceived.

Participants completed questionnaires that inquired about their experiences pertaining to tattoos, including whether or not they had one or more tattoos, how many of their friends had one or more, their reasons for having one or not, and their opinions about tattooed individuals.. Most of the participants (78%) did not have tattoos, and most of their parents (92%) did not have tattoos.. However, most of the participants’ friends (74%) had tattoos — and almost half (47%) were considering getting a tattoo or another tattoo.. Participants reported reasons such as “to keep my mother’s memory ,” “a way of honoring my first child,” and “presented what I was going through at a certain time of my life.” Some participants (12%) also felt that their tattoos were an extension or expression of who they were.. As one respondent remarked, “My body is a book, my tattoos is [sic] my story.” Some participants also reported that they found tattoos to be an appealing form of art.. As for the participants’ views about their tattoos and those of others, the participants themselves were for the most part non-judgmental.. When asked, “What is your opinion about tattoos and people with tattoos?” the majority of participants (54%) had positive opinions, 18% had mixed feelings, 13% had negative opinions, and 15% either had no opinion or were indifferent.. Of note, when responding to the question “What do you think are people’s opinions of tattoos?”, most participants (39%) felt that people have mixed feelings or negative feelings (35%), by contrast to the 17% of the participants who believed that people felt positively about tattoos.. The majority felt comfortable with tattoos, so long as the tattoo had personal meaning or was a means of expression.. For instance, a respondent shared: “I must admit, I tend to be skeptical of someone who has an arm/leg/back full of tattoos (usually patterns) – in my opinion, there is something as too many tattoos.. “My Body is My Journal, and My Tattoos are My Story”: South African Psychology Students’ Reflections on Tattoo Practices.

While no one would suggest getting tattooed simply for the mental benefits, the act of getting tattooed and the aftermath can impact your mind in a positive way.

“Historically, tattoos were predominantly used to try to symbolize your association with a particular group,” according to Viren Swami , a professor of social psychology at Anglia Ruskin University who researches body image and body art.. Now, people get tattoos for a slew of reasons — to commemorate a special time in their life, remember a loved one, to try to project an image to the world or just because they think it looks cool.. No matter the reason for getting tattooed, one thing is clear: Tattoos are linked with a person’s mental health.. “People can have a large mental health boost from a tattoo, especially in the weeks afterward,” Swami says.. Of those who have tattoos, 92 percent said they’re happy with their body art.. Swami’s research found that those feelings decrease with time, but that the majority of people plan to get another tattoo at some point.. “It can symbolize that I feel great about my body and I respect that it’s enabled me to do something big,” Swami says.. Brooklyn-based tattoo artist Lalo Yunda has several stories of people who got a tattoo to commemorate the loss of a loved one.. A physical, permanent marker of someone can also help someone feel that they’re keeping their loved one’s memory alive, Swami says.. This augmented reality experience is paid for by Reelz.. Timman has one client in particular who started with no tattoos and now has body art across both of his arms, chest and back.. “He said, ‘People are noticing and women are looking at me now.’ It made him feel like a new man.”

Tattoos can be a wonderful method of self-expression, but the process does come with risks, ranging from passing irritation to permanent disfigurement.

The reaction can be to any color, but the most typical are yellow and red.. A reaction to red ink, however, is most common.. Be sure you know exactly how to care for your new tattoo before you let the artist sling that ink.. Few states have any regulations requiring tattoo salons to provide after-care instructions.. Over the next few weeks you’ll want to wash the tattoo twice a day and apply moisturizer.. If you see any sort of skin reaction after the first few days, however, visit a dermatologist.. Don’t go swimming or otherwise immerse yourself in water for at least two weeks.

While many people don't agree with the idea of tattoos, they can actually be good for your immune system. Here's why...

People get tattoos for many reasons, such as expressing themselves or commemorating a particular person in their lives.. They also measured cortisol (a stress hormone that weakens your immune system over time).. People who get body art have similar immunity after a while.. This immune boost also explains why people who get inked for the first time may feel sick during the session.. Perhaps they will want a tattoo as well!

The journey to spiritual growth just might start at the tattoo parlor.

Tattoo artists like Brooklyn-based Minka Sicklinger offer ritual tattoo sessions, sometimes partnering with spiritual healers and Tarot readers.. Milic , who inked Carroll's back tattoo, considers tattooing a form of healing contact, akin to Reiki.. While it's common now for people to ink their mantras on their wrists and for those who've lost loved ones to add initials to intricate tattoo designs, the process of piercing the flesh with an indelible mark can also help many people heal from emotional and physical pain.. "Feelings of hope can reduce stress and create a positive outlook, which has been documented to help healing," says Anna Friedman, a tattoo historian and the director of the Center for Tattoo History and Culture , a research organization.. "As the client moves through physical pain and fear of commitment to a permanent tattoo, I take that journey with them.". "As the client moves through physical pain and fear of commitment [to a permanent tattoo]—which is a powerful experience in itself—I take that journey with them."

For those with a chronic or autoimmune disease, getting a tattoo will take extra preparation. At times, your healthcare provider may recommend against it.

Several questions should be considered, including if the disease or condition is well controlled and if there is an increased risk of developing a complication, such as an infection.. People who live with chronic illness who may receive a tattoo as part of their culture may wish to consult healthcare providers in order to assess and minimize any potential risks.. Tattoos are not without risk, even for people who don’t live with autoimmune disease or chronic illness.. People who live with chronic conditions or autoimmune diseases often go through cycles with their health.. When there is a disease process that’s not under control, it is probably not the best time to consider body art.. The authors of the case report could not definitively point to the exact cause of the pain, but hypothesized that it could be related to a bacteria being introduced into the muscle, or as a reaction to the ink.. People who live with autoimmune conditions will want to ask about and follow the aftercare instructions from the tattoo artist carefully and consult a healthcare provider (such as a dermatologist ) at the first sign of infection.. There have been no reported outbreaks of hepatitis C among professional tattoo parlors where sterile equipment is used, but for tattoos given in a nonprofessional setting (at home or in prison, for example), the risk increases significantly.. A common concern about getting a tattoo is developing a skin condition or worsening an existing skin condition.. People who have had keloids in the past may be at risk for developing one after receiving a tattoo.. Some healthcare providers may recommend that people who live with psoriasis not receive tattoos .. People who had a reaction to a tattoo who were later given a patch test with red ink did not have the same reaction.. It’s thought that the process of receiving the ink during the tattoo session is different enough from a patch test that they are not equivalent.. Most tattoo artists are interested in learning more about skin conditions related to tattoos.. However, with only about half reporting being trained, it’s important to note that adverse reactions may need to be evaluated by a dermatologist.

You’ve been pondering the matter for some time and now you’re motivated to finally get a tattoo. If this is your first one, chances are you have some questions about the whole thing — namely, how long does it take for a tattoo to heal? We’ve prepared a guide to help you roadmap the healing ...

Immediately after the tattooist is done with the art piece, your body begins the process of healing.. Though it might not look like it, your tattoo is actually an open wound on your skin.. That sensation, which lasts a week, on average, is your body working hard to patch things up and prevent infection.. Your tattoo artist will go over the things you need to do to keep your new tattoo clean, and it can feel overwhelming at first.. A good tattooist can recommend some ways to alleviate this stress so that your skin can heal properly.. In the second week of the tattoo healing stages, the inflammation around your tattoo will subside a little.. As you might have experienced with other healing wounds, an itching feeling — which replaces the burning and stinging sensation from stage one — is normal during this part of the healing process.. Weeks 3 and 4: drying out. Weeks 5 and 6: completely healed. You’ll know you’re in this phase — and that your tattoo is fully healed — because all the dry skin and scabs have sloughed off to reveal new, smooth skin with a vibrant tattoo and you no longer feel the burning and itchiness because the body has repaired itself.. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to the recommendations that your tattooist gives you regarding aftercare, which will help prevent complications and speed up the time it takes for the tattooed skin to heal.. Wash your hands before removing the plastic wrap Clean the area with lukewarm water Use gentle, unscented soap Use a mild moisturizer to keep skin from drying out (your tattoo artist might be able to recommend one) Stay out of bathtubs or pools to avoid the tatted skin steeping in dirty water Do not expose the tattooed area to the sun Do not scratch or peel at the scabs and flakes of skin during the healing process Keep hydrated for optimal skin health and regeneration. While most tattoos heal normally, without complications, it’s important to remember that a tattoo starts off as an open wound and can therefore get infected.

Tattoos are a conversation starter. Either there's a story attached or a "skin"-showing session or an emotional response derived from the sight of ink art.

Where you put the tattoo, how may tattoos you have, what the tattoos is and the size of the tattoos all help shape the emotional response of the viewer.. People get tattoos for many reasons: for attention, self-expression, artistic freedom, rebellion, a visual display of a personal narrative, reminders of spiritual/cultural traditions, sexual motivation, addiction, identification with a group or even drunken impulsiveness (which is why many tattoo parlors are open late).. Other people use tattoos to enhance their sexual prowess or feed their exhibitionist side, and many people use tattoos to visually promote their identity and/or group affiliation.. In studying first impressions of people that have tattoos, researchers have found that avatars (neutral) with tattoos and other body modifications were rated as more likely to be thrill and adventure seekers, to have a higher number of previous sexual partners, and to be less inhibited than non-tattooed avatars.. The long-term fear of being "marked for life" is being tempered by tattoo removal technology and people getting used to seeing tattoos.

Tattoos go through a crucial healing period. Wondering how long it takes? Ahead, derms explain what to expect from the tattoo healing process.

So ahead, I sat down with my board-certified colleague Dr. Liza A. Moore and tattoo artist Adam Makharita to demystify the tattoo healing process.. In our experience, a normal healing tattoo will go through three broad stages of healing.. The visible signs noted above have typically resolved by the third week post-procedure, in our experience, however, the tattoo will may remain dull and dark appearing until approximately one month after the tattooing procedure.. Remodeling of the skin underneath the tattoo will continue for three to six months when tattoos are fully healed.. In general, it takes approximately one month from the time of tattooing for a tattoo to take on its permanent form in a young, healthy individual, though as mentioned above, tattoos are considered fully healed around 3 months.. Use a breathable bandage the first week: Since tattoos create an opening in the skin that allows bacteria entry, Moore recommends covering the tattoo with an adherent, breathable bandage, such as Derm Shield ($35) for the first week.. However, it’s important to continue to apply a healing ointment on the tattoo until all signs of healing have resolved.. Break out the healing ointment: After the breathable bandage comes off and you've cleansed with antibacterial soap twice daily for about three days, Makharita recommends slathering the area with Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($10) daily.. Follow the proper course of care from your dermatologist and/or tattoo artist, as proper care may help protect you from infection and create a better tattoo result.. Be sure to ask your tattoo artist for their specific instructions, but in general, your tattoo should stay under the initial bandages for a least a few hours.

Videos

1. Can TATTOOS boost your IMMUNITY?
(LAU - Tattoos and Body Mods)
2. 3 Ways to Improve the Health of Your Skin for Tattooing
(James Withee)
3. "What are the biggest health risks when getting a tattoo?" (3 Questions on Tattoos)
(BfR | Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung)
4. Do Tattoos Boost Your Immune System?
(The Fowler Show)
5. Are Tattoos Toxic? | UConn
(UConn)
6. Dr. Max Gomez: Tattoos Can Come With Unexpected Health Risks
(CBS New York)

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