Staying healthy (23)
- Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand
- Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
- Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk
- see all in Staying healthy
Dental care (7)
- Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics
- Oral health: A window to your overall health
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
- see all in Dental care
Skin care (17)
- Sunless tanning: A safe alternative to sunbathing
- Best sunscreen: Understand sunscreen options
- Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin
- see all in Skin care
Nail care (1)
- Fingernails: Do's and don'ts for healthy nails
Eye care (9)
- Eye injury: Tips to protect vision
- Contact lenses: What to know before you buy
- LASIK eye surgery
- see all in Eye care
- Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options
- Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults
- Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep
- see all in Sleep
Mental health (11)
- Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping
- Self-esteem: 4 steps to feel better about yourself
- Self-esteem check: Too low, too high or just right?
- see all in Mental health
Healthy relationships (9)
- Domestic violence against men: Know the signs
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help
- Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
- see all in Healthy relationships
Healthy at work (12)
- Travel workout: Fitness tips for business travelers
- Workplace exercises: How to burn calories at work
- Desk stretches: How-to video collection
- see all in Healthy at work
Tattoos: Understand risks and precautions
Tattoos might be more common than ever, but don't take tattooing lightly. Know the risks and understand basic safety precautions and aftercare steps.By Mayo Clinic staff
You could be the proud owner of a new tattoo in a matter of hours — but don't let the ease of getting tattoos stop you from making a thoughtful decision about permanent body art. Before you get a tattoo, make sure you know what's involved. Also, be certain that tattooing is the right decision for you.
How tattoos are done
A tattoo is a permanent mark or design made on your skin with pigments inserted through pricks into the skin's top layer. Typically, the tattoo artist uses a hand-held machine that acts much like a sewing machine, with one or more needles piercing the skin repeatedly. With every puncture, the needles insert tiny ink droplets. The process — which is done without anesthetics — causes a small amount of bleeding and slight to potentially significant pain.
Know the risks
Tattoos breach the skin, which means that skin infections and other complications are possible. Specific risks include:
- 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. This can occur even years after you get the tattoo.
- Skin infections. A skin infection — which might cause redness, swelling, pain and a pus-like drainage — is possible after tattooing.
- Other skin problems. Sometimes bumps called granulomas form around tattoo ink. Tattooing can also lead to keloids — raised areas caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue.
- Bloodborne diseases. If the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract various bloodborne diseases — including tetanus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.
- MRI complications. Rarely, tattoos or permanent makeup might cause swelling or burning in the affected areas during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. In some cases, tattoo pigments can interfere with the quality of the image — such as when a person who has permanent eyeliner has an MRI of the eye.
Medication or other treatment — including possible removal of the tattoo — 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.Next page
(1 of 2)
- Schmidt RM, et al. Tattooing in adolescents and young adults. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Do's and don'ts when considering tattoos or piercings. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. http://www.asds.net/_ConsumerPage.aspx?id=912&terms=body+piercing. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- DeBoer S, et al. Puncturing myths about body piercing and tattooing. Nursing. 2008;38:50.
- Tattoos and permanent makeup. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/ProductInformation/ucm108530.htm. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Keltz M. The skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes during pregnancy. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 1, 2011.
- Tattoos and body piercings. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/tattoos-and-body-piercings. Accessed Dec. 2, 2011.
- Desai NA, et al. Body art in adolescents: Paint, piercings, and perils. Adolescent Medicine. 2011;22:97.
- Braverman PK. Body art: Piercing, tattooing, and scarification. Adolescent Medicine Clinics. 2006;17:505.