Today more people than ever seem to be getting tattoos, often without considering that allergic reactions might occur. Most people probably don’t even consider that a tattoo allergy is a real thing, though it is true that the tattoo itself is not actually the problem. It’s the tattoo ink.
What causes a tattoo allergy?
All tattoo inks contain a variety of heavy metals and chemicals in them, such as iron oxide, carbon, mercury sulfide, aluminum, and lead. These chemicals can react badly with the immune system and create a physical reaction if the body attempts to reject them.
Allergic reactions to the inks used are actually quite common, even if many people do not recognize them as such. These allergies can appear in different forms, mostly depending on the colour and quality of the ingredients in the inks, and are most often seen with red, and sometimes yellow.
Some of the most common reactions include:
Acute Inflammatory Reaction
This happens in every instance of tattooing, when the skin becomes red, irritated, and mildly swollen after the tattoo has occurred. It is not a serious allergy though, and clears up anywhere from a week to a three weeks, depending on the sensitivity of the individual.
While symptoms are similar to an acute reaction, contact dermatitis also includes severe itching and blisters or peeling of the skin on the tattoo area. Sometimes the blisters or nodules can even release a clear secretion.
Some tattoos don’t create a physical reaction until exposed to the sun, and only then does irritation and swelling occur. The skin may also be hypersensitive to being touched, though not painful.
What to do if you have an allergic reaction to a tattoo
Do not irritate the tattoo further: avoid scratching or picking at it, and make sure to keep it clean. Don’t try to treat it yourself either, there is always the possibility of making it worse when you aren’t sure what is wrong.
If the reaction is mild, it may subside on its own after a couple days. If it continues to get worse, or at least not improve, then seek out assistance from medical professionals. They should be able to assess the severity of the reaction and determine the proper treatment for you.
Our team is always there to help you out. If you start seeing any ill effects, just come see us and we’ll advise you on how to clear things up.