When getting a tattoo, the ink stays inside skin immune cells: How will it affect your health?

What happens after you get a tattoo? Why doesn’t the color of tattoo ink on our body disappear while skin cells always die and are replaced with new ones?

Tattoo ink is inserted into the dermis (deep layer of the skin) using a needle. The body sees tattoo ink as a foreign object and will try to push it out of the skin, but the chemical nature of tattoo ink makes this process quite difficult for the body. Therefore, most of the color remains in the skin.

The tattoo needle will prick the skin about 100 times per second, to deposit the ink in an area 1.5 to 2mm below the skin’s surface. The reason is that this depth exceeds the outer layer of the skin or epidermis.

The epidermis is the part of the skin that continuously renews itself. Every day, thousands of epidermal cells are shed from the skin and replaced by new cells. The ink inserted into the surface layer of the skin will disappear within 3 weeks.

To make the ink permanent in the body, the tattoo needle must pass through the epidermis into a deeper layer or dermis. Nerves and blood vessels are located here, which is why tattooing will cause pain and bleeding.

Most tattoo pigment remains in the body after a person gets a tattoo. The ink is not erased by special repair and recovery cells, called macrophages. Dr. Arisa Ortiz, a dermatologist and director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at U.C. San Diego Health, says:

“Normally the ink does not travel very far from the injection site. For the most part, the ink is engulfed by the skin or immune cells, and then by the surrounding swabs in the lower layer.” envelope”.

However, researchers are taking a closer look at how much tattoo ink travels to other parts of the body, especially the lymph nodes.

Scientists also discovered that some toxic heavy metals originating from tattoo ink also traveled to the lymph nodes. Cobalt, nickel, and chromium particles, sometimes added to organic tattoo substances as preservatives, reached the lymph nodes.

Is it harmful to the body?

Other studies have shown that tattoo pigment can travel to other places in the body. In a May 2017 study published in the journal Dermatology, researchers tattooed mice with black and red tattoo ink.

About a year later, the team discovered ink pigment in the lymph nodes of mice, just like in humans, and also in live
“It’s a very interesting and surprising finding,” said Mitra Sepehri, lead author of the mouse study. “To reach the liver cells, the pigment must travel through the blood to reach the liver. So we showed that tattoo pigment can spread through the mouse’s blood system as well as through the lymphatic system “.

Of course, rats are not humans, and as Sepehri points out, the study does not confirm that tattooed humans will have their livers contaminated with ink pigments. Additionally, because mouse skin is thinner than human skin, tattoo ink is likely to be stored deeper in mice and is more likely to enter the bloodstream. Even if research continues in five or 10 years, tattoo ink could accumulate in the liver in humans, but it’s still unclear whether this will cause any harm.

A study from Denmark in 2011 found that 10% of unopened tattoo ink bottles tested were contaminated with bacteria. And a study by the Danish Environmental Protection Organization in 2012 found that 1 in 5 tattoo ink samples contained carcinogens.

“Humans have been tattooing themselves for thousands of years, and will obviously continue to tattoo themselves,” Ortiz said. “So we need more research, both on the tattoo process and on the ink, to understand the potential reactions in the skin, thereby optimizing tattoo safety.”

 

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