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Bispebjerg Hospital - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

From Technique of Tattooing to Biokinetics and Toxicology of Injected Tattoo Ink Particles and Chemicals

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterCommunication


  1. Identification of pigments related to allergic tattoo reactions in 104 human skin biopsies

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Treatment of atopic dermatitis with dupilumab: experience from a tertiary referral centre

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Tattoos and skin barrier function: Measurements of TEWL, stratum corneum conductance and capacitance, pH, and filaggrin

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Tattoo colourants are colourful nano- and microparticles, which are practically insoluble and thus permanent once installed in the dermis by the tattooist. Tattoo ink also has soluble ingredients and contaminants. Pigments can distribute via the lymph and possibly also directly to the blood, and a minute fraction may over time undergo metabolic breakdown and as hapten(s) induce allergic reactions of red tattoos. Carbon black of black tattoos has a tendency to agglomerate and form larger bodies that can elicit foreign body reactions in black tattoos and even granuloma formation with overlap to sarcoidosis in the clinic. Very little is known about the biokinetics and safety profile of the many tattoo pigments in use, and no specific pigment-related chemical of tattoo ink causing identified adverse reactions in humans has been depicted. Inks have many ingredients and contaminants. Insoluble and soluble ingredients of inks supposedly have very different characteristics of absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion, with pigments being extremely slowly excreted, contrasting soluble ingredients with fast elimination. Tattoos are a single-dose exposure. Controlling the safety of tattoo inks by banning potentially critical chemicals hitherto has been unsuccessful due to lacking documentation of clinical and epidemiological relevance and because the tattoo industry is already internationally established, free, and in the ownership of the people. Doctors treating patients with tattoo complications consequently have a key role in identifying risk situations and local outbreaks, which needs clarification, therapy, and the intervention of authorities. In the treatment of complications, as seen in general practice and in other specialties, basic insight into the fate of tattoo pigments in the body is necessary. Tattoo complications are complicated and facetted with many entities and disease mechanisms; they are a new subspecialty in medicine and dermatology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiagnosis and Therapy of Tattoo Complications : With Atlas of Illustrative Cases
EditorsJ Serup, W Bäumler
Number of pages17
PublisherS. Karger AG
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesCurrent Problems in Dermatology

    Research areas

  • Coloring Agents, Denmark, Humans, Injections, Intradermal, Ink, Risk Assessment, Skin, Tattooing, Journal Article

ID: 52642428