Tattoos and the Immune System

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Tattoos and the Immune System A tattoo is a permanent marking that is created by making a series of minute puncture wounds that go about a quarter inch into the person’s skin using a single needle or group of needles. Tattoos should be done by a tattoo artist who is licensed. In addition, individuals seeking tattoos are usually advised to first get a hepatitis B vaccination as a safeguard against the dangerous virus. This shows some degree of risk that is associated with the procedure even in the most stringent of settings (Carney, 2006). There is a lot of disagreement on whether or not tattoos have the potential to negatively impact the immune system of the individual who gets them done on their skin. I know most of you might argue that the modern procedures developed ensure that tattoos are done in a sterile environment while using single-use items and sterilizing the rest of the equipment has to a large extent minimized the possibility of the individual compromising their immune system. Many jurisdictions also require the tattooists to undergo blood-borne pathogen training similar to the ones provided by OSHA and the Red Cross. However, like every other invasive procedure, there is always the potential for harm such as skin disorders or infections, contracting blood-borne diseases as well as potential allergic reactions (Sawyer, 2007). Blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, tetanus, tuberculosis and HIV can all be transmitted through direct contact with infected blood. Although tattoo artists must adhere to regulations regarding the rule of single-use needles so as to guard against transmission of such diseases, there is still some risk that can be associated with coming into contact with the tattoo equipment that has been used on hundreds of individuals, if not thousands. This is further emphasized on by a study conducted by the Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas in 2001 which suggested a correlation between the


References: Carney, J. N. (2006). Public health in action: practicing in the real world. New Jersey: Jones & Bartlett Learning. Rotfield, G. S. & Romaine, D. S. (2005). The encyclopedia of men’s health. New York: InfoBase Publishing. Sawyer, S. (2007). Body piercing and tattooing: the hidden dangers of body art. The Rosen publishing group.

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