FDA: Contaminated tattoo ink causing infections

This is why you SHOULD NOT get tattooed at home or by a scratcher.

Thinking about getting inked? Check the bottle first.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that not all tattoo ink is safe.

Last month, California company White and Blue Lion Inc. recalled inks in in-home tattoo kits after testing confirmed bacterial contamination in unopened bottles.

At least one skin infection has been linked to the company’s products, and FDA officials say they are aware of other reports of infections linked to tattoo inks with similar packaging.

Infections from tattooing are nothing new. Hepatitis, staph infections and even the superbug known as MRSA have been tied to tattoos. Dirty needles and unsanitary environments are often to blame.

But people getting tattoos can get infections in the skin even in the cleanest conditions. The ink can carry bacteria that can spread through the bloodstream – a process known as sepsis. Symptoms are fever, shaking chills and sweats, and the risk is particularly high for anyone with pre-existing heart or circulatory conditions. Less severe infections may involve bumps on the skin, discharge, redness, swelling, blisters or excessive pain at the site.
And you may not be out of the woods for a while: The FDA says it has received reports of bad reactions to tattoo inks right after tattooing as well as years later.

The FDA says it is concerned that consumers and tattoo artists may have some of the contaminated products from the July recall. White and Blue Lion may have just been one distributor.

Some of the recalled bottles have a multicolored Chinese dragon image with black-and-white lettering, while some are missing manufacturer information. In general, the FDA says those looking to get a tattoo should always ensure that the ink has a brand name and a location of the business that manufactured it.

“What the consumer can do is talk to the tattoo artist and see the ink bottles,” said Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.

This isn’t the first outbreak linked to tattoo ink. Reports of infections have increased as tattoos have become more popular in the last decade.

Three years ago, 19 people in Rochester, New York, ended up with bubbly rashes on their new tattoos, linked to contaminated water that was used to dilute the ink.

Permanent tattoos aren’t the only tattoos that carry risk. An FDA alert earlier this year warned that temporary tattoos popular with kids and often found at beaches, boardwalks and other holiday destinations can be dangerous. The main risk is from black henna, an ink that is combined with natural red henna and can include chemicals that can cause dangerous skin reactions.

In that notice to the public, the FDA said regulation differs from state to state and can be lax in some places.

“Depending on where you are, it’s possible no one is checking to make sure the artist is following safe practices or even knows what may be harmful to consumers,” the alert read.


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5 thoughts on “FDA: Contaminated tattoo ink causing infections

  1. Wait what if an unopened bottle of ink is contaminated shop or not doesnt change. Anything its the ink not the artist if your in a shop or a home crap product is still going to be crap product this is completely on the company providing the ink not the artist and where there working out of. And lets be real for a sec if must shops didnt charge ur other arm and leg to get one tattooed thered be less scratchers. if u price urself outta ur target market its not surprising people look for cheaper alternatives. with that said its about finding a good artist right for u in a shop or home doesnt matter but make sure the artist is clean (work area, equipment, hell even personally) make sure his tattooing skills r up to ur standards (look at portfolio). seen bad tattoos outta scratchers for sure but seen it outta shops to its the artist not his work area that matters.

    1. Chad, only scratchers use “at home kits” a reputable artists buys through suppliers who confirm a body artist license before they distribute. So, the contaminated kits aren’t a risk if you are getting a professional tattoo by a reputable shop. On cost, I would gladly pay 100/hr to know the health department is regulating a place performing permanent body modifications. Considering most artists make 50% or less and pay for their own supplies tip 20% too.

  2. If they want to stop in home tattoos…..companies shouldnt offer an in home tattoo kit….Oh my god…..If only all places make you give Shop and phone numbers and shop calls like Workhorse….and kingpin

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