Tattoos have enjoyed a rising social respectability over the last decade or so, with revived methods and highly realistic work capturing the imagination. But, the FDA would like to rain on your parade by warning you there are still risks.
To be fair, the FDA itself has been forced to admit that tattoo problems are rare: Between 2004 and 2016, 343 incidents of tattoo ink related problems were reported to the FDA, despite 29% of Americans having tattoos. That said, the FDA has updated their guidelines to inform consumers that even inks marked “sterile” and that are sealed before being opened for use still have a small risk of contamination due to mold or bacteria in the ink, or may contain ingredients that cause allergic reactions. As to what that causes, permanent rashes, scarring around the tattoo, fever, and other illness may turn up. Also, you can Google “infected tattoo” and see for yourself*.
As we said, the odds of this actually happening are pretty low, but if you want to cover your bases, talk to the tattoo artist about what inks they use and get a list of ingredients, and then talk to your doctor about allergies. Doctors recommend, in particular, going to artists who use “single use” tattoo kits, keep things clean and disposing of needles, asking tattoo artists to use inks from bigger companies, and, most importantly, to ask your artist to stick to ink they’ve used on themselves. In other words, before you get something permanent, do a little research, and also poll your friends about whether your tattoo is a good idea. Friends don’t let friends get cliche tattoos.
*UPROXX takes no responsibility for what you Google, especially when it’s something like “infected tattoo.”