It seems like each week, some celebrity (last week it was Rihanna) takes to social media to flaunt their new ink. While getting tat, tat, tatted up has become more accepted worldwide as a form of art or expression, health experts are investigating the long-term health effects of tattooing yourself. “There have been no systematic studies of the safety of tattoo inks, so we are trying to ask—and answer—some fundamental questions,” Dr. Paul Howard, a research chemist working on the FDA tattoo ink study, said in a statement on the agency’s website. “We want to know what happens to the ink. Where does the pigment go?
In fact, their findings (or lack thereof) may have you rethink that cute ankle tat. For starters, from 1988 to 2003, the FDA received only five complaints about skin reactions from tattoo ink. However, since 2004, it has received hundreds more– reporting reactions including itching, scarring or inflammation, even years after tattooing occurred.
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