Ubc LogoThe tattoo trend which probably started centuries ago still continues today. However, tattooing seems to increase the risk to a number of diseases, or at least the following article suggests so. A latest study commenced by the University of British Columbia affirms that individuals covering large parts of their bodies with tattoos have greater chances of contradicting hepatitis C and other blood-borne disorders.

Approximately 124 studies from 30 countries, namely Canada, Iran, Italy, Brazil and the United States were scrutinized by the experts. It was noted that the incidence of hepatitis C followed by tattooing is directly associated to the number of tattoos an individual gets. The U.S. reports seemingly around 36 per cent of people under the age of 30 to receive tattoos. It seems that in Canada almost eight percent high school students have at least one tattoo and 21 percent don’t have one but want one.

“Since tattoo instruments come in contact with blood and bodily fluids, infections may be transmitted if instruments are used on more than one person without being sterilized or without proper hygiene techniques. Furthermore, tattoo dyes are not kept in sterile containers and may play a carrier role in transmitting infections. Clients and the general public need to be educated on the risks associated with tattooing, and tattoo artists need to discuss harms with clients,” remarkedDr. Siavash Jafari, a Community Medicine Resident in the UBC School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) and the lead author.

In the process of tattooing, the skin is punctured 80 to 150 times a second. This is done to probably inject color pigments. Chances of allergic reactions, HIV, hepatitis B, bacterial or fungal infections, and other risks associated with tattoo removal were also observed by the authors. It has been suggested that infection-control guidelines can be provided for tattoo artists and clients. Also inspections could be conducted to ensure accurate employment of these guidelines. Investigators advice that significant events should be made public and a record can be kept of such incidences.

Prevention programs can also be initiated to educate youth as they are more likely to get tattoos. Such programs may also be aimed to prisoners who face a higher prevalence of hepatitis C, to decrease the spread of hepatitis infection. 12 to 25 per cent of hepatitis C infections among prisoners are possibly linked to tattooed individuals in Canada than six percent of the general population. Tattoo dyes can possibly contain house paint, ink from computer printers, or industrial carbon. Such toxic contents can seemingly enter the kidney, lungs and lympth nodes through the circulatory system.

The study is published in the current issue of the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.