Updated 10 May 2010

The risks of tattoos

Why do people choose to have tattoos? And is it dangerous in any way?

Why do people choose to have tattoos? And is it dangerous in any way?

"There are different reasons why people have tattoos," says, Llieze Ellick, a trained piercer from Wild Fire Body Piercing Clinic.

"My tattoos are part of my soul," said Ellick.

Tattoos are very personal. Mostly they are influenced by one's experiences of life. They have a lot to do with commitment and self-expression," said Ellick

Dangers very real
Only trained people should do tattoos, says Cape Town dermatologist, Dr Ian Webster.

The skin could be damaged, scarred or the wounds can become infected if someone who is not trained in that field, does the tattoo. The same applies to body piercing.

Severe complications can arise if the instruments that are used are not disposable or are poorly sterilised, or the venue is unhygienic.

Transmission of serious infections like HIV and hepatitis, as well as allergic may occur, and many people don’t consider these dangers beforehand, said Webster.

Webster said the best way to remove a tattoo is by means of a laser treatment, which takes about eight to 10 sessions. He said some of the obvious reasons for removal might be because of religious reasons, because of new love interests, and because fashions come and go.

Not a decision to be taken lightly
If you have decided to go ahead with your tattoo, and you are prepared to take the risks, take your time and remember there are no hard-and-fast guarantees of safety. You also need to ensure that you have good after-care with your tattoo artist after the procedure.

It might also be an idea to talk to a few people who have already had the type of tattoo you are considering. Ask them about their experiences, the costs, the pain, the healing time and anything else about which you might have questions.

One important thing you might want to know is if they had the chance to do it over again, they would?

Generally if your tattoo becomes red, hot and painful and or produces a creamy yellow or greenish discharge, chances are it is infected in which case you should see your doctor.

(Charmaine Quma, Health24, June 2006)

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