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Shannon Koehle: How Safe Are Tattoos?

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By Shannon Koehle
EmpowHer Health Report

Developing one’s body into a canvas for expression, a memorial, or a work of art, tattoos have become increasingly fashionable.

However, it is also a trend linked to numerous health risks.

Slowly disassociating itself from negative perceptions, the Center for Disease Control has assisted this process. As the CDC says, “No cases of HIV transmission through tattooing in the United States” has ever been reported since data collection began in 1985.

Similarly, in a 2006 CDC position stance on tattoos, between 1986 and 2006, less than 1 percent of those who acquired hepatitis C reported having any tattoos.

While there is a risk associated with any percutaneous exposure for incurring numerous blood-borne pathogens like HIV, hepatitis, tetanus, and tuberculosis, the CDC says, “No data exists in the United States indicating that persons with exposures to tattooing alone are at increased risk for HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) infection.”

Receiving a tattoo is said not to increase one’s risk for hepatitis C, but a 2006 CDC study discovered actions that are linked to hepatitis C include receiving three or more tattoos, receiving tattoos in an unprofessional setting, and receiving tattoos from reused, needles that were not sterilized.

The Mayo Clinic says, “Given the popularity of tattoos, complications are relatively uncommon.” However, additional health risks associated with tattoos include:

-Skin disorders like granulomas and keloids
-Bacterial skin infections
-Allergic reactions (These can occur years after tattoo applications)

Another rare side affect are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) complications. These include complaints of swelling or burning radiating from a tattoo’s site and image quality interference for those with permanent eyeliner.

While health risks for those receiving tattoos are low, for those who experience negative reactions, the problem may reside in the ink.

The safety of tattoo ink is unclear, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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