It may be difficult to tell if a fresh tattoo is developing an infection, an allergic reaction or just has redness related to healing.
At University of Rochester, Medical Center 19 cases of tattoo infections were found to occur over a two-month period last year.
The cases were reported in a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 2012. To read the study click here.
The infections were traced to contaminated pre-mixed and pre-packaged grey tattoo ink used by a single tattoo parlor, not through poor technique or other unhygienic practices of the facility, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The situation began when one man, who had had several previous tattoos, sought medical care for a rash that would not resolve on his most recent tattoo.
The tattooed area was biopsied and Mycobacterium chelonae was found in the patient’s skin, which had caused red, itchy bumps to develop.
Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., a dermatologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, also examined 18 other post-tattoo patients who had similar symptoms of this infection.
She informed the Monroe Dept of Health of her concerns due to the high incidence of tattoo-related infections found in such a short period of time.
“Robert F. Betts, M.D., a long-time infectious disease expert at the Medical Center who treated almost all of the patients, confirmed that the infection was only in the areas tattooed with the gray ink,” according to Sciencedaily.com.
Health department investigators visited the tattoo parlor where 14 of the patients had received their tattoos. It was determined that sterile technique and single-use containers had been used appropriately.
The problem was found to exist in the line of pre-mixed grey ink produced by a factory in Arizona. This type of grey ink is used by tattoo artists to create photographic shading.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) visited the plant, collected ink samples and sent them to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to be analyzed.