New Delhi: Tattooing,
so popular among the young, can increase the risk of skin cancer,
According to doctors, inks used in tattoos may contain toxic
elements, which can cause skin cancer, especially blue ink, the
age-old colour of choice for tattoo artists, which has cobalt and
Red ink may have mercurial sulfide and certain coloured inks often
contain lead, cadmium, chromium, nickel, titanium and other heavy
"The equipment used in tattooing and body piercing, if
contaminated with infected blood, can risk transmission of
blood-borne viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and various
skin cancers like squamous cell, carcinoma and melanoma," Dr.
D.J.S Tula, consultant plastic surgeon at Delhi's B.L.K. Hosptial,
"Everyone who gets a tattoo doesn't get skin cancer. But they have
increased risk as most tattooists use ink which is arsenic. Many
youngsters don't realise the damage tattoos cause to their skin.
They want them for a lifetime. Certain designs are deep penetrated
into the skin and damage muscles," Tula added.
Experts also say that a tattoo should not be done near a mole
"One needs to know the changes occurring in a mole - symmetry,
border, colour, size, shape and texture. If there is a tattoo
around it or on it, the key warning signs on the mole cannot be
noticed and it might later evolve into melanoma or another skin
cancer," oncologist Dr. Amit Kumar told IANS.
"One should choose a hygienic place for a tattoo where needles are
properly sterilised. Tattoos between the mid ribs and upper
shoulders should be avoided," said Jane Ruth, a dermatologist.
Other fairly common skin risks associated with tattoos include
allergic reactions to certain tattoo inks. But infection just
after a tattoo can be treated with antibiotics.
Experts also say that there are risks involved in removing tattoos
like hypopigmentation (loss of skin colour) and as
hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) where the tattoo was.
On the contrary, tattooists in the city claim that tattoos do not
lead to skin cancer or other blood-borne disease.
"One should go to a professional tattooist. A professional will
use only organic inks. The best inks are imported from the US,
Britain and Australia. Some Chinese inks available at cheap rates
in the market might be harmful," said Anu Singh, who owns Tattoo
Empire of India.
"Aftercare procedures should also be followed to avoid infected on
the inked skin. My clients have not had any cancer or skin
disease. There might be a slight inflammation for a few days after
the tattoo is made," Singh added.
(Prathiba Raju can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)