Nowadays, getting a tattoo as a cosmetic or decorative body art, has become a most common fashion among teenagers and young adults.

In this post, we would discuss about the adverse effects and late consequences of tattooing, and we share a few tips that you must remember before getting a tattoo.

Tattoo and its types


A tattoo is the deposition of exogenous pigment into the dermis of skin. Tattooing remains a common custom in various countries and cultures. It gained popularity in many western countries during 1990s. In the past, decorative tattoos were more commonly seen in men, especially sailors and army men. But nowadays, it has become most common fashion among teenagers and young adults of both sexes.

Decorative type of tattoo is the most popular among youths. It can be amateur kind of tattoo that is applied by a non-professional artist using a needle and a single colour, like Indian ink.

It can be a professional tattoo made by trained artist in a salon or tattoo parlour using an electric needle to introduce pigment particles into dermis. In such type of tattoos, multiple colours and pigments are used.

Tattoos which are drawn using needle and pigments are relatively permanent or long lasting as compared to henna decorative designs that are usually called temporary tattoos.

Some people may have an accidental tattoo that forms after abrasion injuries that introduces asphalt, graphite, or carbon into the injured skin.

A therapeutic type of tattoo is used as camouflage in vitiligo patches, hide baldness patch in alopecia and breast areole reconstruction after breast surgery.

There are at least fifty different kinds of pigments used in tattoos. These are usually metal salts, industrial paints or organic dyes. Common pigments used for tattoo include:

  • Indian ink or carbon and iron oxide (for black colour)
  • Ferric oxide (for brown colour)
  • Cobalt salt (for blue colour)
  • Chromate and cyanide salts (for green colour) and
  • Mercury, cadmium or aromatic ago compounds(for red colour)

Some of these minerals in high doses can become toxic.

What are the adverse effects of tattooing?


  • Transmission of infections: Infections linked to tattooing include localized bacterial infections, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, HIV and atypical mycobacterial infection.
  • Inflammation: It is common as a result of trauma by needle and introduction of foreign substance. It subsides in few weeks.
  • Hypersensitivity reactions: There may be allergic reactions to tattoo pigments. Red and yellow pigments have shown a high incidence to cause allergic reactions. Itching, bumps, or rashes can occur days, months or even years after the initial tattoo. These reactions need to be treated with steroid ointments. In severe cases, tattoo removal may become necessary.

Late consequences of getting a tattoo


Most important late consequence of tattooing is regret for this decision. Many young adults seek for its removal in late ages.

  • There might be a change in perspective concerning tattoo, getting a tattoo which earlier used to be a fun, now may even become an embarrassment.
  • A change of occupation or employment conditions too influences many people for tattoo removal. Noticeable tattoos may become a big barrier when it comes to getting hired, going for an interview or receiving a promotion. In fact, all new armed forces entrants are now required to remove all visible tattoos.
  • Termination of a relationship may force one to remove name of exes from tattoos.
  • Many wannabe brides wish to remove noticeable tattoos before their wedding day.
  • Many tattoo fade with time,  and then they just appear as dirty patches on the skin.

What should you remember before getting tattoo?


  • Be sure to go to a professional tattoo parlour and to a tattoo artist who is trained and efficient.
  • Check for cleanliness and normal sanitary practice in tattoo parlour and aseptic condition of equipments.
  • Before getting tattoo, let your tattoo artist know if you have a reaction to any cosmetic product, chemical or drug.
  • Those with a chronic skin condition such as psoriasis, eczema, or a tendency toward keloid scarring should avoid getting tattoo.
  • Avoid tattooing over a mole because it will make it more difficult to diagnose a problem if the mole changes in the future.
  • Prefer to go for black ink and simple designs rather than intense colours and layering designs. Tattoo with black ink and simple designs are easier to remove if you later want to get rid of it. So make your decision wisely.
  • Think multiple times before deciding to get tattoo on a large area of body as it would be difficult to get it cleared later.

Tattoo might appear appealing and decorative art on body. But getting a tattoo is a painful procedure and removal of tattoo is also equally painful in addition to being expensive too. So always make your decision wisely.

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Dr Monika Misra

Consultant cosmetologist at Dermacosm clinic
Dr Monika Misra is a consultant cosmetologist at Dermacosm clinic. She possesses more than 5 years of experience in dermatosurgical procedures, chemical peels, microneedling, and radiofrequency.
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