Scott Hensley, writing for NPR’s health blog, Shots:
Federal and state health investigators have identified five clusters of skin infections linked to tattoos.
Now it’s true that infection risks from tattoos are not exactly new or unknown. In fact, tattoo parlors are licensed and regulated in many jurisdictions to minimize the risk of trouble for people getting “inked.”
But those precautions would have been of no help to at least 14 people infected during tattoing in New York last year. Investigators figured out the source of the germs was the ink itself. And that may be just the tip of the tattoo needle.
Yes, tattoo artists should use sterile water and needles, but that’s no guarantee of safety if the colored stuff they’re using to make you into a masterpiece is contaminated. “It’s unfortunate that they can do everything right, but if the manufacturer doesn’t supply them with sterile ink product it still results in them giving their clients infections,” CDC epidemiologist Tara MacCannell tells Shots.
Scary stuff, especially the picture. Yikes.
Myself, I have two tattoos on my right arm. I’ve been fortunate in that both healed nicely, no infections here. Still, though, incidents like this should give people all the more reason to stick to reputable parlors employing reputable artists. (And, of course, you should always follow proper aftercare guidelines.)