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FDA Warns: Tattoo Inks can Cause Infections

Update Date: Aug 07, 2014 12:01 PM EDT

When people get tattoos, they are usually only focused on how the tattoo will look especially since it will become a permanent part on the body. However, what people often forget to do is to check the tattoo ink bottles. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tattoo inks can cause infections.

The FDA reported that last month, White and Blue Lion Inc., a company based in California, issued a recall for its in-home tattoo kits. The kits had tested positive for bacterial contamination. So far, there has been only one infection tied to the in-home kit. However, the FDA officials added that there have been other cases tied to tattoo inks sold in similar packaging. Due to the potential dangers involved, the agency is reminding tattoo parlors, customers and people who might purchase in-home kits that not all tattoo inks are safe to use.

Infections linked to tattoos typically occur due to dirty needles and unsanitary environment. These infections, which range from hepatitis to the methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), can be extremely dangerous without proper treatment. In the case of infected ink, the FDA officials reported that even the cleanest conditions could not prevent an infection from happening.

When people use infected ink, the bacteria get injected into the bloodstream, where they spread and cause sepsis, which is characterized by fever, shaking chills and sweats in severe cases. Less severe symptoms of a bacterial infection caused by tattoo ink are redness, swelling, blisters, pain at the injection sites, and discharge. The FDA warned that in some situations, tattoo inks could cause a reaction years after getting the tattoo.

"What the consumer can do is talk to the tattoo artist and see the ink bottles," said Linda Katz, director of the FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors according to Philly.

The FDA's alert added, "Depending on where you are, it's possible no one is checking to make sure the artist is following safe practices or even knows what may be harmful to consumers."

The FDA informs customers and tattoo parlors to look for a brand name and location of business labels. Ink bottles that have missing information should raise a red flag.

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