Tattoos and Your Health
More than 20% of the US population are tattooed, and 36% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. While this form of permanent body art seems so commonplace that most people would not consider a tattoo a risk to long term health, there are important reasons to think long and hard before getting a tattoo.
Tattoo Issues to Consider
The FDA regulates tattoo ink, the actual practice of getting a tattoo is subject to local jurisdictions, which may vary widely from place to place.
Tattoo ink has been found to contain the following heavy metals:
Tattoo ink has “carriers” to help place it under the skin, these “carriers” may include:
- Denatured alcohol
- Rubbing alcohol
These substances remain in your body, even if someday you decide to have your tattoo removed.
Risks of tattooing
There are numerous risks to tattooing including;
- Allergic reactions to the ink, or carrier. Allergic reactions may include skin reactions like itchy rashes and hives. Or in rare cases a serious anaphylactic reaction may occur.
- Skin infections – tattoos should be done in reputable sterile environments. If mycobacteria contaminated ink is used or non-sterile needles infection is very possible. Symptoms of infection include redness, swelling, itching and permanent scarring is possible
- Hepatitis B from contaminated needles
- Staph infections
- Granulomas and fibroid scarring is possible as a reaction of the body to fight off the foreign substances.
- Possible carcinogenic links to substances in tattoo inks are being researched.
- Tattoos can mask signs of skin cancer like moles and red patches.
- Nanoparticles in tattoo ink are so small they can pass through skin layers into the bloodstream and lymph system and accumulate in the lymph nodes, or cause leaky gut and leaky brain symptoms.
What can you do to protect your health if you already have a tattoo?
A heavy metal detox may be beneficial, some methods of detox include:
- Eat leafy greens,
- Cook with antioxidant herbs and spices including clove, peppermint, allspice, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary.
- Eat foods high in vitamin c such as citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, brussels sprouts.
- Include garlic and onion in your diet
- Add Flax and Chia seeds into your diet as well for their superfood status of being high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.
- Drink a lot of water
- Eat organic, unprocessed foods
- Supplement with a probiotic
- Speak to your doctor about chelation therapy or other methods of heavy metal detox.
Tattoo removal is possible with laser treatments and best done by a dermatologist. Removal can take 5 – 20 sessions and be quite expensive. Not all tattoos can be completely removed and you may experience hypopigmentation or fibrosis (a thickening of the skin) at the sight of the tattoo.
If you are suffering from skin irritation or other side effects related to your tattoo, please call our office to see how holistic medicine may be able to assist.
Read Dr. Cushing’s biography