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PSA: The FDA Is Warning Us About Moldy, Scarred Tattoos

Tiny tattoos are on the rise and we’ve all been ~moved~ by those tiny waves, pineapples and palm trees

The Atlantic reports that tattoos are more popular now than ever. About 20 percent of Americans have a tattoo, but 40 percent of those people are millennials. We want tattoos to “cement current aspects of ourselves,” fit in with a hip aesthetic and proclaim our identity or values.

That’s all fine and dandy, but collegiettes, you need to hear about some of the Food and Drug Administration’s new studies to make sure your tat is safe. If you’re thinking about getting inked, the FDA just released updated warnings about being safe and sanitary while getting a mark that will last a lifetime. They received more than 350 horror stories about disturbing scars and moldy tattoos. Here are some warnings from the FDA, as reported by Teen Vogue.

1. Dirty tattoo parlors

Look for sterilized equipment and make sure the artist is prepping the tools in a clean manor. Make sure your artist is licensed and uses hygienic processes.

2. Contaminated ink

Sometimes ink can be infested with mold or bacteria. The FDA doesn’t regulate inks, and even inks that are sealed can be contaminated.

3. Allergic reactions

You might need medical attention from infections or rashes. Tell your tattoo artist about any allergies, but that may not be enough.

4. Scarring

Reactions can lead to scarring, especially if you’re already prone to it. Guys, scars can develop within the tattoo, which has me freaked on all kinds of levels.

5. Unknown long-term effects

The FDA warns that it doesn’t know the long-term effects, but for example, you could develop allergies to hair dye through p-phenylenediamene. 

“With tattoos, customers should always understand that there is some uncertainty,” Sejal Shah, a dermatologist in New York City, told Teen Vogue. “Ask them where they purchase their ink, how it is diluted—is sterile water used?—and stored, as well as their personal adverse reaction rates. In other words, how many of their clients have had infections or other issues.”

Please ladies, think before you ink. We’re all for having reminders of who you are and what you stand for—but don’t risk your health.

Lindsay was the president/editor-in-chief of the UCLA chapter of Her Campus from 2015-2018. She was previously the Viral Section Editor at Her Campus and an Editorial Intern at the headquarters in Boston. Lindsay grew up in Washington state and transitioned to love the Southern California sunshine while studying communications and environmental science at UCLA. Twitter: @WeinbergLindsay.
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