Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Are Tattoos Bad For You?



Short answer

Tattoos can be safe if done correctly. However, it is important to realize that there are a few risks involved, including the risk for skin irritation, contracting a blood-borne illness, and developing long-term dermatological problems.



Long answer

Tattoos do not provide any health benefits whatsoever. While they are mostly safe if done properly and professionally, they do carry some health risks. People get tattoos for a variety of reasons - to celebrate an achievement, to impress upon their bodies a certain memory, as a form of dedication, or simply because they want a particular work of art to be permanently a part of their body. 

Contamination from a dirty needle is certainly a concern, but it isn't the only one. The first concern is pain. The tattooing process consists of having small needles repeatedly poke through the skin to deliver the various pigments. If you don't do well being poked with a needle, you may wish to reconsider getting a tattoo. Another immediate concern should be the cleanliness of the place. Is everything new and sterilized? Are the inks for one-time-use only? Remember, there will be bleeding involved when getting a tattoo, so if the tattoo parlor isn't as clean as a dentist's office there's a risk of contracting a blood-borne illness such as hepatitis (B and C) or tetanus. 

Furthermore, the skin may react to the ink in a negative way. In fact, some reactions occur months or even years after getting the tattoo. A study of 300 New Yorkers aged 18-69 who had tattoos found that about 6% of them experienced skin problems such as rash, severe itching, and persistent swelling at some point. This shows that there is a small risk of developing some sort of dermatological condition. 

Yet another factor to consider is the possible non-permanence of the tattoo. Some tattoos fade away with time or sunlight exposure. While the pigments may be broken down and become unseen / hard to see, it is possible that the chemicals may still continue their deleterious effect. 

As if the health risks weren't enough to warrant reconsideration, one big risk is that of regret. What you think you would like on your skin for the rest of your life may not be the same at 25 as it will be at 35, 45, etc. This isn't to say that tattoos are always a bad thing - just something that may require more thought than previously considered. 

Possible short-term side effects

  • may cause skin allergies
  • may transmit blood-borne illness
  • may be moderately to extremely painful
  • may lead to long-term dermatological problems

Big are tatoos bad for you.

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Written by Jeff Volling | 01-07-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
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