Tattoo ink can seep deep into the body

Faith Castro
September 14, 2017

Scientists have already reported that the tattoo ink contains pigments that can travel to the lymph nodes.

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped organs that produce blood cells created to help fight disease and infections. He explains at Deutsche Welle that numerous pigments used in tattooing were created for industrial use, and are repurposed by tattoo ink companies, but were never tested for safety. "No one checks the chemical composition of the colors, but our study shows that maybe they should".

Unfortunately, the specific types of particles that reach the nodes remain unidentified.

Delayed healing accompanied with itching and skin elevations are mostly linked with white tattoos, which are thought to be a outcome of using TiO2.

Titanium dioxide, which is a chemical commonly used to create white ink, is known to increase a person's risk of developing cancer. TiO2 is also a widely used component in food additives, paints and sun screens.

A large number of people around the globe love to get tattoos on various parts of their body and in varying sizes.

Study author Hiram Castillo from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France, said: "When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlour where they use sterile needles that havent been used previously. It is the response of the body to clean the site of entrance of the tattoo", study co-first author Bernhard Hesse said in a facility news release.

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However, it was unknown that it had travelled in a nano form, suggesting a behavior different from the particles at a micro level; as the way by which the nanoparticles react is not known, it might be problematic, he added.

They found a broad range of particles with up to several micrometres in size in human skin but only smaller (nano) particles transported to the lymph nodes.

"Altogether we report strong evidence for both migration and long-term deposition of toxic elements and tattoo pigments as well as for conformational alterations of biomolecules that likely contribute to cutaneous inflammation and other adversities upon tattooing", the researchers wrote in their study.

However, this link to the big-C was not in the scientific study and has not been mentioned by the researchers either.

"There are very rare cases of lymphedema caused by tattoo particle-related clogging of the lymphatic drainage and in cases of severe allergic reactions leading to skin necrosis, the lymph nodes can be effected as well", Schreiver said.

After finding associations between structural and chemical properties of the pigments used in tattoos, the team aims to further analyze patient samples with adverse effects.

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