Body art or tattoos have been popular in India for a very long time. Over the ages, it has undergone many transformations. Tattooing, which gained popularity as a way to enhance beauty or was done by a subculture to assert a common identity, is now a part of the mainstream. People, especially millennials, get themselves inked to express beliefs, memories and often depicting the phase one is going through in life.

Today, tattoos transcend fashion, they are everlasting markings on the skin, hence they end up defining a person for a lifetime

According to a Harris Poll (a market Research company based in New York), “Three in 10 Americans have tattoos, and most don’t stop at just one.”

The popularity of tattoos has also led medical professionals to take a closer look at the changes the inking makes to the skin.

Some of the findings raise concerns

According to a study by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Bethesda, Maryland, tattoos may interfere with the way your skin sweats. As compared to non-tattooed skin, inked skin excretes about 50 per cent less sweat. Tattoos could interfere with the skin’s ability to cool your body and hold onto important nutrients. The study indicates that tattoos may partially block the reabsorption of these important nutrients. This may be significant for those with extensive tattoos on back, arms or other areas densely populated by sweat glands.

The Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons undertook a case study a 33-year-old man with an elaborate, multi-coloured chest tattoo had malignant melanoma that was restricted to only the areas filled in with red ink. The researchers say that it is likely that the young man already had a melanoma that his tattoo artist hit with his red ink needle. And so during the process, the artist seeded other portions of the man’s skin with malignant cells.

According to Cormac Joyce, other case studies which link tattoos to cancer indicate that “the process of tattooing involves the integration of metallic salts and organic dyes into the dermal layer of the skin. The resulting low-grade, chronic inflammation that can result from this could stimulate “malignant transformation”.

According to a study in 2011 in Denmark, “Microbial status and product labelling of 58 original tattoo inks“, it was found that 10% of unopened tattoo ink bottles tested were contaminated with bacteria.

Tattoo inks are mostly unregulated, and many incidences of  blood-borne diseases have been reported because of using tainted ink

Metals used in tattoo inks may also cause skin allergies. According to TIME, an FDA spokesperson told them, “The FDA is conducting research to improve its knowledge of tattoo inks and the ingredients used in them and to look more closely at their different components.”

Getting yourself permanently inked is a big decision, so learn about the possible risks associated with tattooing.

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Also read: Beware of Unhealthy Body Trends on Instagram