DIY Tattoos – Another Risk Taking Behavior For Teens

November 14th, 2014

4462803363_2225dcc1c0A new trend that is increasing in popularity can have deadly consequences. It’s called Stick & Poke or Do-It-Yourself Tattoos. Now, personal body art is getting really personal as more people choose to ink themselves or have someone else do it for them right at home. While “DIY tattoos” allow for ultimate creativity, critics say the trend can be really risky and young people are the ones engaging in this behavior.

Complete DIY kits can also be purchased on the web, containing needles, ink possibly even an electronic tattoo machine. No experience necessary. But there are some important questions to be answered: Are they clean? Are they keeping things sterile? Are they using the proper procedures? Are they using the proper ink.

Using unsterile equipment can be dangerous, especially to people with compromised immune systems. “If the infection spreads systemically into the bloodstream it could become a life threatening situation. It could also threaten the limb if the infection is very deep-seated in the soft tissue,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, MD Infectious Disease Specialist.

Adalja warns that with any tattoo you need to know there are risks involved. “You’re breaching your skin, you’re breaching a part of your immune system to apply this tattoo, so everything needs to be sterile,” Adalja said.

According to Linda Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors,  “Tattooing poses a risk of infection to anyone, but the risk is particularly high for those with pre-existing heart or circulatory disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems.”

She notes that injecting contaminated ink into the skin or using contaminated needles may result in infections at the site of the tattoo. Signs of localized infection include redness, swelling, weeping wounds, blemishes, or excessive pain at the site. If you experience any of these signs, seek medical care right away. Even after a localized infection has healed, the area may be permanently scarred.

Further, an infection that is left untreated or inadequately treated could spread through the bloodstream (a process known as sepsis). These infections may be associated with fever, shaking chills (rigors) and sweats. If these symptoms arise, treatment with antibiotics, hospitalization and/or surgery may be required.



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