Tattoo Piercing – Health Risks, Precautions and Benefits

Tattooing and body piercing are hit with youngsters! However, these people are mostly unaware of the health risks associated with various body arts. A little carelessness and these body arts can cause as simple a health problem as itching, irritability and non tolerance to even mild sun exposure to as complex a disease as tuberculosis and leprosy. However, if done carefully and with all precautions body art can be all safe. In fact, there are certain rare benefits of tattooing too.

Risks of Various Body Arts

These days, most of the school and college going girls and boys love to decorate their bodies with various arts that include designs in the form of tattooing or permanent make-up or piercing of different body parts. Before taking decisions to go for such an art, one must be fully aware of risks involved in them.

Body piercing

Piercing of any body part except ear lobules can create problems. Ear lobules do not have any kind of fats, nerves or blood supply. As such, they don’t run the risk of infections. However, other body parts that are highly vascular and have mucus surface, like tongue, genitals, lips and nipples, are all at health risks. Body piercing can cause cartilage infection, keloid, hepatitis B and C. It can also cause HIV infection if the tools used are infected. Sometimes, drugs like lidocaine and epinephrine (used during anesthesia) are also used while piercing body. Wrong dosage of these drugs can result in seizures, heart palpitations and cardiac problems. Navel piercing has been found to be at a lower risk and may not cause any complications but the children born to such females have been found to weigh less at the time of birth.


As the tattoos are made on the outer layer of skin, tattooing done by skilled hands and in a sterile environment do not creates any health complications. However, if not done with sterile precautions, it can lead to many serious diseases. If the needles used in tattooing are infected, it may even cause HIV infection. The dyes that are used in tattoos contain chemicals like carbon (black); cobalt aluminum (blue); hydrates of iron oxides (brown); chromium oxide (green); and mercury sulphide (red). If the needle somehow penetrates the skin, these chemicals get mixed with the blood leading to various allergic conditions and other diseases. Permanent tattoos can cause TB of skin, leprosy, warts and sexually transmitted diseases. Also their removal (mostly done by various laser treatments) is difficult and painful. Temporary tattoos can also cause allergic reactions, burns and boils on skin due to the presence of paraphenyldiamine. It is the same chemical which is used in a hair dye. In permanent make-up, which uses tattoo for making eyeliner can affect the eyes. The red color used for coloring the lips is also very difficult to remove.


Whenever getting a tattoo made on any body part, it should be ensured that the tattoo parlour uses disposable needles. The dyes should also be tested for allergic reactions and must contain labels for being absolutely safe. Body piercing at areas like tongue, genitals, lips and nipples should be avoided.


In certain medical conditions like spot baldism (alopecia), leukoderma and pigment disorder (piebaldism), tattooing offers certain benefits. In these conditions, the unpigmented area of skin is filled with matching color through tattooing. However, this rare benefit can be obtained under the guidance of expert doctors only.

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