People have been getting tattoos for thousands of years, and today, nearly half of all adults younger than 40 have at least one tattoo, and it's not just youth who are getting them: many middle-class ladies are getting permanent makeup tattoos. But federal health officials say that not all inks are safe, and the newest tattoo trends may be the most dangerous: Tattoo parlors are mixing their inks with other, unsafe products.
NPR.org quotes dermatologist Tina Alster as saying, "There are some chemicals that have been shown to be injected along with the tattoo inks to make them brighter or even psychedelic. There are some that actually glow in black light." She says that the problem with today's tattoo inks is that "nobody knows for sure what's really in them."
All tattoos fade with time, but when that happens, where do the inks go in the body? Some inks--the reds, oranges, yellows and even whites--may cause more problems than other colors because the skin cells containing the ink can be killed by sunlight and ink-breakdown products may disperse through the body. Researchers have already found that certain types of pigments migrate from the tattoo site to the body's lymph nodes, which could create a dangerous condition. NPR quotes chemist Petigara Harp as saying, "We've seen such things as infections, swelling, cracking, peeling and blistering at (the) tattoo site."
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