Most people who have gotten inked have described it as a life-changing experience. Nearly 40% of all young adults in the United States have tattoos, according to a 2010 survey. This is probably because the idea of a customized piece of art on one’s skin adds a sense of some kind of novelty. 

Despite it becoming a mainstream trend, whenever anyone expresses their desire to get tattoos, they are always reciprocated with feelings of concern over the possible side-effects. But how legitimate are these fears? Read on as we present to you information you need before getting a permanent tattoo.

The process of getting a tattoo

Body art such as permanent tattoos has existed for centuries and involves a needle piercing the outer layer of the skin and leaving the coloured ink underneath. 

But just as daunting a task it is to get inked, the artist handling the needle has to be skilled and must use it delicately. Once the skin heals, the resulting artwork can be a sight to behold.

  1. Risk factors of getting a tattoo
  2. Can you donate blood after getting a tattoo?
  3. Tips on getting a new tattoo
  4. Takeaway

It is important to fully understand the risks involved before making a decision to get a tattoo. Most risks and complications arise while the tattoo is still fresh and the skin is healing, which makes it even more important to be vigilant and have good after-care.

Possible complications include:

Skin Infection: An infection can also occur if the water is not sterile and mixed with the ink before the process. A skin infection is the most likely side effect, that too within the first two weeks of getting a tattoo as it is the healing period where the dead skin peels off. Some of the symptoms of an infection can include itchiness, reddening of the skin and a kind of discharge.

While tattoo artists would instruct you on how to look after your tattoo immediately after getting inked, it is always a good idea to follow all the instructions with utmost care to prevent infections in the tattooed area.

The spread of a skin infection can result in a fever and in the case of a severe infection, the skin problems may become continual.

Needles must be sterilised: It can’t be stressed enough that getting a tattoo involves the piercing of the skin with needles, and it is the artist as well as your duty to ensure that sterile, or completely new needles are used for each tattoo. Much like injections, tattoo needles also carry the risk of various infections of the blood, such as HIV & hepatitis C .

Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to tattoo ink as well, especially if it contains plastic. Certain colour pigments such as red, yellow, blur and green are usually considered to contain allergens. 

One of the highlights of these side effects are that they do not necessarily occur immediately after getting inked, and can happen years after you have got the tattoo.

Keloid scarring: Keloid scars are basically formed when too much protein builds up over a scar tissue. Tattoos have the potential to scar. You are at a risk of developing keloid scars which show up as raised bumps when your tattoo doesn’t heal properly, or if you have an infection or an allergic reaction. 

Complications with MRIs: In rare cases, going under an MRI scan machine may lead to side effects. There may be a pulling sensation on the skin where the tattoo is because certain tattoo inks - perhaps of poor quality - may contain magnetic pigments. This may lead to swelling or itchiness after a scan, but these tend to go away by themselves.

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Yes. Even the Red Cross, the international humanitarian movement encourages people with tattoos to participate in blood donation.

A functionary with the Indian Red Cross Society told a newspaper that while there is an actual shortage of blood donors on one hand, there is no other option but to turn away willing donors, most of them young people, because of their tattoos and body piercings. But they can come after six months after getting a new tattoo, as it is just an infection control procedure.

If you have decided on getting a tattoo for the first time, it is important to keep the following things in mind before taking the final plunge to get inked.

Choose the part of the body wisely: How much it hurts depends largely on your pain tolerance, size and region of the tattoo. Getting it made around certain areas that have more nerves and less flesh tends to hurt more. Thus, it is a good idea to opt for a region with more flesh, like your bicep or thigh.

Ensure that the needle is sterilised: As mentioned earlier, it is essential to know that the needle the artist is using is sterilised, and one of the ways to do this is to let the artist open the packaging of a fresh needle in front of you.

Health signs to look out for after getting a tattoo: It is always a good idea to get an opinion from a healthcare professional if you notice anything irregular about the part of the skin where you have got your new tattoo. If you notice the following around the region where you have got the tattoo, pay a visit to a nearby clinic. 

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Tattoos may not be for everyone, but those looking to get inked for the first time must take advice from their friends who have tattoos, as well as choose an experienced tattoo artist from a reputed studio which helps in minimising the risks involving side effects of any kind.

Remember, though, that tattoos are permanent and it is always a good idea to run the thought through your head a few times before making a final decision on getting one, and only proceed with it once you are fully aware of all the necessary risks that go along with it.

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