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How are tattoos created?

First, it's important to know how tattoos are actually created. The process begins when the tattoo artist draws the design for the tattoo on the customer's skin. Then he cleans the area and applies a thin layer of a petroleum jelly-like substance to the site.

Nowadays, most professional artists use an electric tattoo gun when working on their creation. The bar of these "guns" can hold up to 14 needles that puncture the skin up to several thousand times a minute. The needles are dipped in different colored inks as desired, and when they pierce the skin they deposit the ink just a few millimeters deep.

As the tattoo gun punctures the skin, blood seeps from the wound and the artist wipes it away. Professional, reputable tattoo artists use one-time disposable containers for the ink, and they dispose of the needles after each client.

When the tattoo artist is finished, he applies an antibacterial solution and a bandage to the site. After 24 hours the customer can remove the bandage. However, after that point she should continue to keep the tattooed area clean and moist with the application of an antibiotic ointment. If a scab forms, she shouldn't pick at it.

Additionally, the customer shouldn't rub the tattoo or expose it to direct sunlight, petroleum jelly, or rubbing alcohol. Moreover, the customer shouldn't go swimming, soak the site, expose it to shower jets, or wear clothes that will irritate or adhere to it. (I bet you didn't know that tattoos were so delicate, did you?) The tattoo site will take approximately two weeks to heal.

Are tattoos regulated?

It's also important to know that the FDA does not regulate the process of tattooing or the use of tattoo inks. Instead, the actual practice of tattooing is regulated by local jurisdictions. Furthermore, as strange as it may seem, the tattoo pigments themselves are not approved for intradermal (that is, under-the-skin) use, and some pigments contain lead, mercury, and arsenic.

Some of the pigments in the ink are industrial grade and are actually suitable for use in automobile paint. While professional tattoo artists are regulated, amateurs are not, and they may use unconventional pigments such as charcoal ink or mascara. They also have been known to use pencils, pens, and sewing needles to apply the ink.

What can be the health effects of getting a tattoo?

You and your daughter should know about the complications that can arise from getting a tattoo. Infections such as Hepatitis B and C, and skin infections caused by Staph bacteria, can be transmitted through the use of non-sterile needles. And although it's never been documented, some health professionals feel that a person getting a tattoo runs the risk of acquiring HIV.

The FDA does not regulate the process of tattooing or the use of tattoo inks.

Also, if a tattoo is obtained from a non-regulated facility or artist, the recipient may not be able to donate blood

Non-infectious complications from getting a tattoo can include allergic reactions to the pigments, granulomas (or nodules) that form around the tattoo, and keloid formation.

for up to 12 months. That's because there's a risk that the recipient was exposed to a blood-borne infection.

Non-infectious complications from getting a tattoo can include allergic reactions to the pigments, granulomas[1] (or nodules) that form around the tattoo, and keloid formation. Keloids[2] are thick, wide scars that can form any time you traumatize your skin. And interestingly, there have even been some reports of people experiencing burning and swelling of their tattoos when they've undergone an MRI. This odd result has been attributed to the metal content in some tattoo pigments.

  • [1] Localized nodules of tissue that result from infection or injury.
  • [2] A scar that extends beyond the site of the original wound and can grow over time. These scars can be hereditary and occur more often in African Americans, Latinos, and Asians. They commonly occur around piercing sites.
 
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