I have been wanting to get a tattoo for quite some time now and for the last two months I have been throwing the idea around, getting input from other people, and checking around to see where in the area I live would be the best place to get a tattoo. When I posted on Facebook that I was thinking about getting a tattoo, one of my friends, who writes about chronic illness (particularly MCS – Multiple Chemical Sensitivities), warned me that tattoos can be very toxic and that they are not as benign as most people believe them to be. She continued to warn me with this message:
The problem is that the ingredients are not regulated and do not have to be disclosed, so the tattoo artist probably doesn’t even know for sure what’s in there. Further, it’s really a hit and miss about whether or not you will have a reaction to the ink no matter how “good” the tattoo artist is. A “good” ink for one person might not be “good” for another.
I can’t believe the one thing I never considered to research was the chemicals that are used in tattooing. I know from experience that with illnesses like ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia, MCS and other chronic disorders that we need to take into consideration everything that goes into our bodies, and everything that we use on our bodies. When my friend, Susie, was warning me about tattoos, she provided me a link to an article that she wanted me to read – The Truth About Tattoos: Health Risks, Toxicity and More. Regarding the ingredients that are used in tattooing:
A far cry from their tribal predecessors made with dyes from the natural environment, many of today’s tattoos contain an unknown conglomeration of metallic salts (oxides, sulphides, selenides), organic dyes or plastics suspended in a carrier solution for consistency of application.3 In the European Commission’s report on the health risks of tattooing, they note that close to 40% of organic colorants used in permanent tattoos in Europe are not even approved for use on the skin as a cosmetic ingredient and just under 20% of the colorants studied contained a carcinogenic aromatic amine. Many of the chemicals found were originally intended for use in writing and printer inks, as well as automobile paints. These inks are injected deep enough into the skin that often tattoos will not even be destroyed by severe burns.
Allergic reactions are also a possibility with tattooing and because many of us with ME/CFS & Fibromyalgia suffer from MCS as well, our risk of having a reaction is probably higher I would think. Something else I never took into consideration is how having a tattoo may prohibit someone from having an MRI due to the metal particles in the tattoo. I usually have to have a MRI at least once every couple of years or so for my back. What if it is a life and death situation and a MRI is needed and I can’t get one? I was thinking about getting the tattoo on my lower leg so I don’t know if other parts of your body can be put through the MRI machine as long as the area where the tattoo isn’t subjected to the machine. I will have to call the local hospital where I usually get my MRIs to see what their procedure is for dealing with tattoos.
Other risks that the article says need to be taken into consideration:
Skin infections, psoriasis, dermatitis and other chronic skin conditions, and tumors (both benign, and malignant) have all been associated with tattoos. Due to the use of needles in tattoo application, there is also the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as tetanus, herpes simplex virus, staph, HIV, AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, and even Syphilis.
I would think that the reputable tattoo shops are using only sterile equipment but these days you never know what can happen. The shop I was going to use if I went through with the tattoo is very reputable and has been featured on television and many times in our local newspaper. I am going to research a little further, ask the owner of the shop if they do a skin allergy test, and see if they will tell me what ingredients they use in their tattoos.
The pain from getting a tattoo is also something that has to be considered. I’ve been told by other Fibromyalgia patients that while it hurts, it helps distract from the everyday pain that we suffer from. I was also told that if you can handle the pain of living with Fibromyalgia on a daily basis, the temporary pain that a tattoo causes will be easier. Something else to think about is whether getting a tattoo will cause a flare of Fibromyalgia pain. I also wonder if any of the chemicals used in tattooing could cause a ME/CFS flare. All of these thoughts are running through my mind.
If you have any tattoos, & you also have ME/CFS and/or FM, did you:
- have any allergic reactions?
- have any problems with your skin healing around the tattooed area?
- have a flare of your illness immediately afterward or within the next few days?
- have trouble getting needed MRIs?
- mind the pain?
- get any type of infection?