FDA probes growing health concerns over tattoos

Tattoos are wildly popular, but their inks can cause rashes, infections, and inflammation, and doctors still aren't certain how the inks' chemicals - which eventually migrate into the lymph nodes - may affect your health in the long run.

In recent studies, a chemical in black inks called benzo(a)pyrene has caused skin cancer in lab animals, and malignant melanomas have been discovered in some tattoos, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

The findings have recently prompted America's Food and Drug Administration to launch new studies to investigate the concern.

However, most tattoo bearers and artists, according to the paper, are less concerned about health issues than they are about the long-term appearance of their tattoos. This is an important detail to consider before getting inked: bodies at 60 look different from bodies at 30, stated WebMD. And the finer details of your tattoo are likely to fade over time.

If you're going to get a tattoo, remember that getting a permanent tattoo is an invasive procedure that requires breaking the skin and coming into contact with blood and body fluids, stated WebMD.

A good rule of thumb beforehand is to check the studio's restroom. If it's dirty, say thanks but no thanks. Also be sure the tattoo area has clean, hard surfaces without excess clutter.

WebMD also advises that to stay healthy when getting a tattoo, don't drink alcohol or take medications (especially aspirin) the night before or while getting your tattoo.

Make sure all needles are removed from a sterile single-use package before use, and that your artist washes his or her hands and wears sterile gloves. After getting a tattoo, carefully follow healing instructions, especially if you're required to use antibiotic ointment.

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