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Bispebjerg Hospital - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital

Tattoo Infections, Personal Resistance, and Contagious Exposure through Tattooing

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


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    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Bacterial infection of tattoos remains a common complication. Pyogenic bacteria can cause infections shortly after the tattoo is made. Severity of infection varies from minor to major, ultimately with life-threatening septicemia. Viral infections may be introduced, i.e. HVB, HVC, and HIV. The risk of infection depends on the following triad: microbial pathogen and its aggressiveness, individual resistance of the tattooed, and inoculation and exposures by the tattoo needle and in the tattoo parlor. Some infectious risks can be controlled. Persons with weaknesses can refrain from tattooing. Tattoo parlors and tattooing can be hygienic and clean albeit not sterile; much has improved helped by hygiene guidelines of professional tattooists' organizations and through control instituted by local and national authorities. Tattoo inks remain a potential source of infection difficult to control in a low-priced competitive market operating over the Internet and across national borders. Ten percent of new inks are contaminated with bacteria pathogenic to humans, independent of a claim of 'sterility'. Known brands and established manufacturers are considered safer. Work is in progress aiming at common European standards for tattoo hygiene. Doctors have a role not only in treating tattoo infections but also in reporting cases to the competent authority in their country to support the monitoring of tattoo infections at any time, as an instrument for the authority to detect local outbreaks of tattoo infections early and prevent that new tattoo customers become infected. It is a potential risk of the future that new and very aggressive bacteria not seen in the past may unexpectedly show up in the tattoo scene.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiagnosis and Therapy of Tattoo Complications : With Atlas of Illustrative Cases
EditorsJ Serup, W Bäumler
Number of pages12
PublisherS. Karger AG
Publication date2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017
SeriesCurrent Problems in Dermatology

    Research areas

  • Contraindications, Denmark, Equipment Contamination, Europe, Humans, Hygiene, Immune Tolerance, Ink, Needles, Risk Factors, Skin Diseases, Bacterial, Tattooing, Journal Article

ID: 52642872