maxresdefaultWhen one stops and thinks about tattoos, many seem only to relate with the pain factor involved when getting tattooed.  In reality, every person has a different pain threshold and not every area is deemed to be a painful site for tattooing.  How many of us have stopped and thought about the medical aspects surrounding tattoos?

Truth be told, everyone takes this issue for granted up to a certain factor. Well, this article will help you see the truth behind the tattoo from a medical point of view. Although most of you will actually be concerned regarding what’s actually at stake when getting a tattoo, one must keep in mind that these scenarios only happen in rare occasions and some of them only due to improper care.

Allergic Reactions1

Without going into huge details with regards to what causes allergic reactions, one should blame having allergic reactions on his own immune system, specifically immunoglobulin E (IgE in short).  What happens is, the IgE releases chemicals known as mediators such as histamine to fight the foreign body present in the system.  The allergic reaction sets in due to the secondary effects caused on tissues and organs by the mediators. The rate at which an allergy manifests is dependent upon the rate at which mediators are released.  Allergies are unique to you and sometimes allergic reactions may also arise due to prolonged exposure to factors present around us.
How can allergic reactions affect a tattoo? Allergic reactions may manifest due to exposure to certain tattoo pigments. This is a very rare scenario but it has happened before. If you’re getting a tattoo and you’re concerned with allergic reactions (especially if you’re allergic for several products), one can easily undergo an allergy patch test to see whether the ink used is compatible with your system.  Regarding to the treatment, one must definitely consult a doctor to treat allergic reactions.


Tattoo infections may result from two main reasons. Infections may occur through the use of improperly sterilised equipment.  Although definitely not the case in Malta, one must always check and ask if necessary. Always check if the tattoo artists have the necessary equipment  for proper sterilisation and also check, although it’s something immediately noticeable, whether or not you’re getting tattooed in a clean environment.  This is something which very rarely happens but still one must be observant and responsible enough for their own safety.
The second reason and yes, it is the most common reason why people get tattoo infections is due to improper tattoo care. Proper tattoo care will be tackled in the next article in great detail.
Always remember, that in case of infections, it’s always advisable to consult a doctor rather than self treating.  Self treating involves several risks which can result in the aggravation of a condition.


Eczema is an inherited condition which normally causes itchy rashes on a person’s skin.  The main cause of eczema is yet unknown but severe manifestations or “flare-ups” occur when the body responds to foreign triggers such as stress and an extreme response from the immune system.
Tattoos may be considered as one of the foreign triggers which may cause “flare-ups” since ink is injected in the skin.  People getting tattooed always suffer from a minor inflammation and itchiness but with regards to eczema sufferers, the after effect may result in an increased itchiness and also pain.  One does not need to worry as severe reactions are very rare.  Eczema sufferers need to take extra tattoo care to make the healing process as comfortable as possible.

Lichenoid Reactions3

These appear as shiny, flat purple bumps covered with white lines.  Lichenoid reactions normally occur when the body reacts to the red pigment used for the tattoo.  A patch test is normally advised by tattooists when a large portion of red is going to be used on a tattoo to avoid such risks.
This article is intended as a guide for the people to know the risks involved.  It is by no means intended to fend off interest to get a tattoo but one needs to be properly instructed.

Author: Alexia Micallef

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