Karen Fratti
May 08, 2017 12:36 pm
Juan Aunion/Getty Images

Yikes. Yesterday the Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer warning that people are getting moldy tattoos, so be extra careful if you’re in the market for new art. The FDA warned that they’ve received almost 400 reports from over the past years of people getting major rashes and infections from contaminated tattoo ink. The consumer report warned that some tattoo inks contain pigments found in printer toner or other ink and things not approved for injection in to skin. Over time, this could mean bad things for your body (not to mention the gorgeous tattoo you paid a few hundo for).

So what can do you? Be really picky. A tattoo shop should be as clean as a medical office, and you should see that the artists are sterilizing their equipment. One thing to look for or ask about is if they use sterile water to dilute the pigment. Not doing so can cause bacteria or mold to grow in the ink — and there’s no way to be sure that the ink is safe, even if it says so on the label of the ink.

One thing you can definitely do? Don’t use any “Do It Yourself” tattoo kits. No matter how good of an artist you are, a permanent tattoo is best left to professionals.

The FDA is still researching the safety of pigments and inks, but allergies can develop over time. An infection can cause a fever, shakes, and hot or cold flashes. If you have symptoms like that that are persisting, mention to your doctor that you have body art — it might not just be the flu. Other symptoms of bad ink reactions include a rash around the area, which, luckily, is a whole lot more noticeable.

Don’t let this get you down or scare you. If you’re thinking about a tattoo, go for it. Just make sure you’re choosing places and artists that are trained and follow good sterilization protocols. Because tattoos are awesome, but mold is not.

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