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Tattoo: Health hazards from tattoos

Tattoo: Health hazards from tattoos

First conference on tattoo security: tattoos are not harmless

Anyone who reports on the health risks of tattoos runs the risk of bitter emails and letters from tattoo artists and tattoo fans. Because the colorful or monochrome images on the skin have long been socialized. Especially in summer you can see the colored jewelry on almost every body. An international conference will discuss health risks in Berlin from today. Not only doctors are invited, but also representatives of the tattoo scene.

Pathogen risk
According to the current legal situation, tattooing like piercing is basically a physical injury, since a physical intervention is carried out that appears unnecessary in the medical sense. During the "stinging" wounds are inflicted from which blood, wound secretions and serums flow that are barely visible to the naked eye. "Even the smallest drops of wound can contain enormous amounts of dangerous pathogens in the sick," as reported by the Bavarian State Office for Health. Such pathogens could lead to jaundice or AIDS, for example. If a tattoo artist is infected, he can pass the infection on to other customers. For this reason, tattoo enthusiasts should always make sure that the tattooist wears disposable gloves at work.

Allergic reaction due to the colors used
Professor Andreas Luch is responsible for the safety of so-called consumer-related products at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. In his experience, tattooing can lead to allergic reactions. “Bleeding can occur and there are often allergic reactions to the pigments found in the agents. Typical complications are itchy rash, itching, inflammation with blistering, ”reports the expert. However, the complaints would go away after a while.

Some studies have shown that health complications are by no means just extreme individual cases. Luch reports that around six to eight percent of the tattooed suffer long-term damage to health. For example, a year ago a man from Cologne suffered a strong allergic reaction. Because there was no therapy, the clinicians could no longer help themselves and removed all of the tattooed skin. The removed skin was subsequently enriched by skin from other parts of the body.

It is still unknown what the ink does under the skin's layers in the body. "No one can currently rule out that tattooing agents can lead to health damage after ten or 15 years - organ damage and tumor-like changes are conceivable," explains Luch. Samples would have shown that the paints also contained toxic heavy metals. Among the heavy metals were also substances that were found to be highly carcinogenic in experiments.

More and more people are getting a tattoo. In cities, a new store is opening at almost every corner. But when it comes to supervision and regulation, the authorities in Europe are still at the very beginning. "There is a tattoo agent regulation in Germany," Weber replies. However, the studios cannot be checked regularly and nationwide by the health authorities. A specially appointed EU Commission has also published recommendations for colorants. “These are not mandatory for the EU member states,” warns Luch.

A trade license is also enough to open a studio
The Association of German Organized Tattoo Artists (DOT) also regretted that "a trade license is enough to open a tattoo studio and it then takes a relatively long time for controls to be carried out," says spokesman Maik Frey. The manufacture of tattoo inks is an international business. "In the past there were only three to five manufacturers, today there are five hundred," reports the association spokesman. Colors from Germany are considered to be harmless to health because the authorities watch over them. However, nobody knows “what funds are sold in what quantities via the Internet. Dyes from China, for example, are offered online at a low price, ”says Frey.

According to the risk assessor Luch, there can be no one hundred percent certainty. "Based on our current data basis, we cannot give a reasonable assessment of the risks," summarizes Lunch. There are too many questions and hardly any answers that are scientifically sound. If you only want a tattoo to be engraved for cosmetic reasons and expect total security, "you should leave it simple," said Mark Benecke of the "Pro Tattoo" initiative. (sb)

Almost ten percent of Germans wear a tattoo
Whoever wears a tattoo today does not necessarily have to belong to a subculture, have gone to sea or have been in prison. It is not uncommon for a pinstripe suit to hide a tattoo. Contemporaries often spend enormous sums of money to have their bodies beautified. "10 or 20 thousand euros are no longer uncommon today," reports Klaus Weber, a tattoo artist from Hanover. According to the lobby association "Pro Tattoo", nine to ten percent of adults in Germany now have an immortalized image on their skin.

Conference on tattoo safety
The more people get tattooed and hardly any part of the body is left out, the more the urgent question arises about the consequences for health. These and other questions should therefore be discussed at the international conference of the “First International Conference on Tattoo Safety” on July 6th and 7th in Berlin. Researchers, doctors and experts from Europe, New Zealand, Australia and the USA are invited. For the first time, an overview is also to be given of how often health complications occur.

The focus is not only on the act of tattooing, but above all on the safety of the means and colors used. "How much stress does the ink used have on the body? Are there long-term health risks? ”The tattoo symposium is organized by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (RKI) in cooperation with the Free University of Berlin, TU Berlin.

Read on the subject:
Health risk from tattoo
Toxic substances in tattoo colors

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