Immortalizing particular moments of your life on the skin with a tattoo has become a fashion. The international stars know this well, among the most tattooed the American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga and her Canadian colleague Justin Bieber - the latter seems to have 55 - who never miss an opportunity to show off on their bodies tattoos in homage to loves, births and various anniversaries . 

The touch-mania does not only concern characters from the world of entertainment but is widespread all over the world regardless of gender, ethnicity or culture. This is confirmed by a clinical report on the phenomenon, made by the American Academy of Pediatrics which was inspired by a survey conducted in the United States by Harris Poll which showed that 3 out of 10 Americans would have at least one tattoo, and the majority - 69% of the tattooed - would have more than one. 

In Italy the demand for tattoos has increased by 60 percent, according to the Higher Institute of Health there are 7 million tattooed, the 13% of the population aged 12 and over, so much so that theIstat he put the word "tattoos" in his basket.

Passion yes, but "eye" for health

It is not enough just to pay attention and not to underestimate the immediate post-tattoo skin reactions, but also the side effects and real risks associated with subcutaneous micro-injections of colored ink, especially in the medium and long term. 

In addition to making sure that they are followed the main hygiene rules - use of disposable gloves and sterilization of instruments - it is also very important to check the safety of the chemical composition of the inks used. The potential dangers of tattoo ink include bacterial contamination, allergies, and the risk of toxic effects.

Tattoo ink regulations

European specialists asked to strengthen the legislation on inks on tattoos during the last European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV). At the center of the debate is therefore the need to activate “rigorous measures and appropriate analytical methods to limit long-term toxic and carcinogenic effects. Tattoo inks should meet at least the same safety standards as those adopted for cosmetic products ”. There Food and Drug Administration has recorded over the last few years, as reported in thearticle reports of people developing contaminated ink infections as well as adverse reactions to the inks themselves.

For those who choose to leave an indelible mark on their skin rule no.1 it is however to contact specialized and highly qualified centers and request information on the composition of the inks which must be sterile, non-toxic and used in single-use pigment containers / capsules.

Dr. Stefano Veglio

"The infectious diseases that can derive from tattoos are many: they range from skin infections at the injection site, to the transmission of viral agents, even dangerous in case of use of inadequately sterilized instruments", explained Dr. Stefano Veglio, specialist in dermatology in Aosta and Dubai.

What are the reactions to the inoculated pigment?

Not only allergies (which can come even years after the tattoo) but sometimes granulomas are found which represent a reaction of the skin tissue that tries to get rid of a foreign body that does not belong to it. The photosensitivity reactions fortunately they are rare but the most recent scientific reports describe with some concern the potentially harmful effects on the immune system by metal ions deriving from the pigments used. Traces of the dye have also been found remotely in lymph nodes, a sign that the body does not inertly accept this introduction of exogenous material.

Are there any real risks of carcinogenicity?

However, we are not yet able to assess whether there are real long-term carcinogenicity risks, also because the times to evaluate this possible association are quite long and the chemical complexity of the inks has changed over time. I would definitely advise against a tattoo for allergic patients or people prone to forming keloid scars.

No demonization for tattoos that in history have changed "skin" passing from tribal signs of belonging to a social group to signs, in a certain sense, of aesthetic embellishment in the modern era thanks to colors and perfect creative and imaginative shapes, thus giving uniqueness to the person. To take cover from health risks, the advice of Dr. Veglio it is "always to demand the utmost attention to sterility procedures, to request information on the certification of used inks with regard to current regulations and therefore to contact only highly qualified professionals". 


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