Tattoos aren’t nearly as likely to earn you side-eye these days, so props to society for becoming a little more accepting. However, that doesn’t mean dermatologists are cheering them on from the sidelines. It goes without saying to make sure your tattoo artist uses clean needles and safe practices, but beyond the potential for infection, what else could possibly be so bad? We talked it over with Dr. Jeremy Fenton of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC.
It all comes down to the fact that tattoos can potentially cause permanent damage to your skin’s functions. Apparently, a tattoo covering a large surface of your body (i.e. your whole back or a full sleeve) could affect your body’s ability to regulate temperature during strenuous activity. “A recent study showed that tattooed skin produces less sweat, and the sweat had a different composition compared to normal skin,” explains Fenton.
That said, more research needs to be done to truly understand those consequences. “For the average person getting a reasonably sized tattoo, I don’t think it is of any concern,” he says. That’s good news! But not so fast.
You also have allergic reactions to consider. He explained that ink can cross paths with chemicals in other beauty products and cause a reaction to formulas you were never allergic to before. In addition, you can actually develop an ink allergy years later. Who knew? If you do have an allergic reaction, in most cases, the only option is to remove it by laser or remove it surgically. Both options can cause scarring, which isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of permanent body art.
Laser tattoo removal itself also poses a certain risk. You are, after all, breaking up ink under your skin. “The ink can trigger a life-threatening type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, so it must be done under careful medical supervision,” Fenton says. (If you experience nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, or shock at any point in the days after getting a tattoo removed, you should seek emergency medical attention).
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