The INS And OUTS of INK REJECTION
Nobody Likes Rejection, especially Ink Rejection, when they have spent their time and hard earned money getting poked with needles for their love of ink and tattoos. Many people wonder what factors are involved when their body rejects ink after getting tattooed. In some cases a novice tattoo artist may not deposit enough ink, or go deep enough. Some may blame their tattoo artist, but the truth of the matter is, that there are several more logical reasons or explanations that vary from person to person and ink to ink, as to why their body has pushed the ink out or declined to accept it as deposited color.
According to the Mayo Health Clinic, ink rejection can be the direct source of an allergic reaction to ingredients in various inks, contained within each pigment, even if the substance or the ink is not deemed harmful. (Mayo) Your body can decide on its very own will whether it takes a liking to specific inks and pigments, or not. This can be further explained by drawing a comparison to how one may or may not be allergic to certain hair dyes, makeup, perfumes, fabric, soaps, paint, medicine, and even food. All manufactured products contain different elements that make up its chemical structure and components. Particularly with ink, the structure and chemicals that lie within its pigment, to achieve the color created by its manufacturer are typically what cause an allergic response. There are some pigments within colors that are more responsive or reactive than others. Red ink has been deemed in the tattoo world as the color that causes the most allergic reactions, although its chemical compound has never been noted by the Mayo Clinic as consisting of anything different from that of other tattoo inks. (Mayo)
Reactions are not very common, but they do in fact occur on occasion. There are a few ways to in which once can recognize the onset of an allergy to ink, after you have been tattooed. One way to identify an allergic reaction that may cause ink rejection is an itchy red rash near the tattooed area. A second way to distinguish that you are definitely experiencing a resistance to an ink will be seen shortly after you have been tattooed. If you notice a break out of itchy raised bumps, you have what is medically known as granulomas or keloids, large areas of raised scar tissue. (Live Strong)
Although allergies to tattoo ink do happen, they are more rare than commonplace. Just like anything else we put in our bodies whether it is food or medicine, everyone is unique and will react differently, or in most cases as with ink, not react at all. More often than not, proper tattoo after care plays a significant role in the healing process and can make or break whether your ink will stay put. If instructions are not given by your tattoo artist for after care, you should definitely inquire, and only direct your questions regarding the healing process to the professional that completed your tattoo or in more serious cases a medical doctor. Sometimes reactions can take place several years later, but are extremely rare.
There are more than fifty different pigments and shades on the market, and you will not know what will cause an allergic reaction until you try it first. One way to prevent an infection related to an allergic reaction is to conduct a swab test in a small-concealed area of your body. The swab test entails your tattoo artist directly applying a bit of the color to your skin without a needle. If your skin turns red, almost immediately, you will know that you are allergic. This does not mean that you cannot use that ink, but you should monitor what happens and decide collectively with your tattoo artist whether or not it is advisable to use that color or to select an alternative to avoid an infection. Another test that can be performed twenty-four hours in advance of your tattoo session is a “dot test”. The tattoo artist will tattoo a small dot of the pigment onto your skin to see if anything develops, that you will monitor carefully. If the tattooed dot causes swelling, this may be indicative of an allergic reaction to that single pigment.
Word to the wise, always get referrals from your friends for tattoo artists that they work with, as this may be the best way to rule out artists that are “closet tattoo artists” with no valid qualifications, or licensing. It would definitely raise a red flag if the tattoo artist has no clear after care instructions printed out for their customers, or is unclear verbally how to care for your tattoo prior to receiving his or her services or upon completion. DO NOT hesitate to ask questions especially before you are tattooed regarding pigments and allergies, and specifically their credentials. Lastly, do not forget to question the artist for what their appropriate after care instructions are, as this would be a solid indicator of how qualified or under qualified the artist may be. Please refer to our After Care page for further information regarding acceptable and trusted after care instructions.
Mayo Clinic: Tattoos and Piercings
LiveStrong.com: Can Skin Reject Tattoo Ink?
Commitment Tattoos by Bob Hey is a Tattoo Shop located in St. Petersburg (St. Pete) Florida at 2930 9th St North. Open Daily Mon-Sat and Sunday by Appointment. We are a fully licensed and insured studio.