Thinking about getting a tattoo? A new government report might make you reconsider. The Food and Drug Administration just updated its guidelines on tattoos, and the information is pretty scary. The FDA has received 363 reports of adverse reactions to tattoos from 2004 to 2016, and that includes infections from contaminated tattoo inks and allergic reactions to the inks themselves.
According to Dr. Linda Katz, head of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors, you can get an infection from ink that is infected with bacteria or mold, and there’s no perfect way to figure out if your ink is safe. Your ink is at risk even if the container is sealed or there’s a “sterile” mark on the label.
If you do get an infection from a tattoo, you might get a high fever, and start feeling shaky and sweaty. A doctor would need to treat the infection with antibiotics, and in severe cases, you could be hospitalized and need surgery. If you’re having an allergic reaction, you could develop a rash that doesn’t go away. And other times, you can get scar tissue in the form of bumps around the tattoo.
If you want to get a tattoo, the FDA recommends you look into the tattoo parlor and tattoo artist, and make sure both the place and the technician follow state and local laws. And run far, far away from “do-it-yourself” tattoo kits, which Dr. Katz writes can put you at a higher risk for contamination. And if you develop a bad reaction to a tattoo, call your doctor immediately, then tell the tattoo artist so he or she knows not to use the ink ever again, get lots of information about the ink used, and then notify the FDA so they can spread the word.