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Is it true that tattoos increase the risk of developing skin cancer?

The art of painting on the skin of the body or more popularly known as tattoos is one of the oldest forms of art. Even so, the activity of inserting ink into the skin layers is suspected of triggering skin cancer? Is that right? Check out the facts below.

Is it true that tattoos increase the risk of developing skin cancer?

Is it true that tattoos trigger skin cancer?

Skin cancer is a condition when abnormal cells appear in skin tissue. Generally, this cancer is caused by exposure to ultraviolet light that is too intense. However, is the ink that is put on the skin during the tattooing process one of the causes of skin cancer?

Basically, body tattooing is something that is safe as long as it is done in a professional place. In addition, the tattoo artist must also have sufficient experience with a clean tattoo studio and the tools used must be sterile.

Unfortunately, this tattooing activity cannot be separated possible side effects that can occur on the skin. Therefore, consultation with a dermatologist may be necessary before getting a tattoo.

Broadly speaking, tattoos do not necessarily cause skin cancer. There is no concrete evidence from research sources that states the development of skin cancer due to tattooing.

Also Read: Types of Skin Allergies You Should Know

However, certain chemicals (ink) that enter the skin may have the potential to cause cancer. Some tattoo inks contain chemicals called azo, especially in deep red and yellow.

This material is also known to be used as an ingredient in car paint, textiles, and the printing industry. These substances are not friendly to the skin and have a risk of complications in skin health.

In fact, black ink is also considered to have a higher risk because it contains a so-called carcinogen polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS).

Other harmful substances found in tattoo inks include barium, copper, mercury, amines and various dyes.

Over time, other tissues in the body may be exposed to potentially cancer-causing substances; for example, liver or bladder. Even so, it does not mean that getting a tattoo directly causes skin cancer.

Also Read: 8 Types of Skin Cancer to Watch Out for

Tattoo Side Effects on Skin Health

Although it doesn’t directly increase the risk of skin cancer, there are several other health problems that could arise, including:

1. Allergies

One of the most common risks that occur after getting a tattoo is an allergic skin reaction. This allergy is usually caused by a dye in the ink used.

Itching or rashes on the skin are allergic reactions that often arise due to the use of yellow, red, green and blue ink.

2. Scarring

In some people, tattoos can cause scarring in the form of fairly prominent streaks (keloids) or lumps (granulomas) that form on the skin where the tattoo is located. Aesthetically, the growth of scar tissue can reduce the beauty of the skin.

Also Read: How to Remove a Tattoo with a Laser: Treatment, Effects, and Costs

3. Skin Infections

Infections that occur can be triggered by various things. For example, the ink used to make tattoos has been contaminated with bacteria. The entry of the virus into the injured skin during tattoo injection can also cause infection.

Skin infections are usually characterized by:

  • A red rash appears around the tattoo
  • There is a burning sensation
  • Pus appears on the tattoo
  • Swelling in the tattoo area.

In severe infections, you may have a high fever, sweat or chills.

  1. Anonymous. Does Tattoo Ink Give You Cancer? (Accessed February 10, 2023)
  2. Cherney, Kristeen. 2021. Can Tattoos Cause Cancer?. (Accessed February 10, 2023)
  3. Upham, Becky. 2022. Does the Ink Used in Tattoos Pose a Health Risk?. (Accessed February 10, 2023)
  4. Sreenivas Shishira. Tattoo Side Effects: Infections, Allergic Reactions, and Other Issues. (Accessed February 10, 2023)

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