Particles from the pigments in that colorful tattoo could migrate to your lymph nodes.
Pondering getting a tattoo? Maybe you should consider where those pigments will end up.
A new study in Scientific Reports finds that microscopic particles from tattoo ink can migrate into the lymph nodes. This is the first analytical evidence of various organic and inorganic pigments and toxic element impurities moving from tattooed tissues to other parts of the body. The implications are still unknown regarding the findings by scientists from Germany and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France.
"When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlor where they use sterile needles that haven't been used previously, but no one checks the chemical composition of the colors," Hiram Castillo, one of the study authors, said in a news release.
Most tattoo inks contain organic pigments, but also include preservatives and ingredients like nickel, chromium, manganese cobalt and titanium dioxide. These compounds are used in food additives, sunscreens and paints, but scientists are only now beginning to study the effects of what happens when they degrade into toxic impurities and accumulate in the lymph nodes.
"What we didn't know is that they do it in a nano form," said lead study author Bernhard Hesse, "which implies that they may not have the same behavior as the particles at a micro level. And that is the problem: We don't know how nanoparticles react."
Other research has shown that people with multiple tattoos have stronger immune systems. And one dermatologist found that up to 10% of those with tattoos experienced adverse events, including itching, scaling or infections. Something to think about before you ink.