Are tattoos bad for your blood?

Tattoos are so dangerous

What are the health risks if I get a tattoo?

The biggest problem is the tattoo inks. Because there are a lot of impurities in it. Because the pigments, i.e. the coloring substances, are not specially produced for this application. This means that they do not have the level of purity that one would want if something was injected into the body. There the colors come into contact with blood and lymph fluid and are distributed in the body. The tattoo inks can also contain allergenic substances due to contamination, and even carcinogenic substances could be in them.

Many people are not even aware of this risk. Colors do not only consist of pure pigment, but of admixtures in order to simplify the respective application. In the case of tattoo inks, substances are mixed in to keep this color pigment in a liquid. There are also preservatives to which many people are or may be allergic. You can also find nickel in tattoo inks, which is the most common contact allergen. These are all fabrics that shouldn't actually be in the colors.

Can laser removal of a tattoo solve the problem?

That is a fallacy. Even in a cosmetic sense, it is not certain that the tattoo can be removed by lasers in such a way that afterwards your skin looks like nothing was before. Very bright colors in particular are very difficult to remove.

We also know that the dyes also end up in the lymph nodes. That means, maybe in the best case scenario we are rid of the tattoo on the skin. But the colors and the impurities are far from out of the body.

The tattoo just wanders elsewhere in the body. This already happens when the tattoo is pierced: Parts of the color particles are mainly transported to the lymph nodes. And it is very likely that the color pigment will end up in other organs as well.

When the tattoo is removed, the color pigments, which can be imagined as small spheres, are shattered into even finer pieces. They are then transported away again. In my research, I found out that the color pigments are not only broken up into smaller fragments, but that the molecules are also split again within themselves. This creates completely new substances that have the potential to trigger allergies or even have a carcinogenic effect.

Does a monochrome tattoo pose fewer health risks?

One could conclude that one takes less risk with a tattoo that is only black, because the color pigments play such a big role. Unfortunately, you can't say that across the board. There are also impurities that can be present in black colors. And the co-formulants such as preservatives are also included. There are also bright colors that may be produced with a higher purity or are more stable.

Did the Tattoo Inks Ordinance of 2009 not contain the health risks?

The tattoo inks ordinance, for example, stipulates that what is not allowed on the skin in the case of cosmetics should certainly not be injected. That was a good first step. But the laws must always be improved. Because very little is known about the health risks. If you test substances to see what impact they have on people, you normally don't do it by pricking them into the skin. And that's why you can't say for many substances what effects they will have if we stick them into the body. A lot of data is missing.

Why is there no list of tattoo inks that are not harmful to health?

In order to be able to say that a tattoo paint has no negative effects, very, very many tests are necessary. And you don't yet know exactly what you would have to test. We have also examined the removal of tattoos with laser technology and found that this can increase the health risk. In addition, tattoo inks also degrade in sunlight. There are a lot of factors that you have to check first in order to be able to assess substances as safe at some point.

What should I look out for if I want to get a tattoo?

First of all, it is important to choose a professional tattoo artist, also for reasons of hygiene. For tattoo inks, there is a so-called RAPEX rapid warning system at European level. There you can find out which colors were negative in tests. This is a great way to learn about the colors. And then of course you could choose the tattoo so that as little color as possible is used. It would also make sense to choose a motif that you can still see after a few years. Because laser cutting actually harbors an additional health risk.