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FDA Warns Consumers Tattoo Ink May Be Contaminated

If you are thinking about getting that new tattoo or getting an existing one revamped and enhanced, you may want to reconsider. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to the public that some tattoo inks may be contaminated with microorganisms.

A handful of tattoo ink manufacturers’ products have tested positive for bacteria which can cause infection. Since the skin is broken in the process of getting a tattoo, the risk is significant and can lead to infection, necrosis or worse.

In a statement released last week, the FDA says, “commonly reported symptoms of tattoo-ink-associated infections include the appearance of rashes or lesions consisting of red papules in areas where the contaminated ink has been applied. Some tattoo infections can result in permanent scarring. Indications of an infection can be difficult to recognize as other conditions (e.g., allergic reactions) may initially have similar signs and symptoms, leading to misdiagnosis and ineffective treatments.”

The FDA says it became aware of the contamination of “tattoo inks through its FY 2018-2019 inspections of distributors and manufacturers, routine surveys of marketed tattoo inks, and subsequent microbiological analysis of sampled tattoo inks.” The agency recommends consumers ask their tattoo artist what brands of ink they use and to avoid those on the list of contaminated brands:

  • Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black tattoo inks manufactured by Scalp Aesthetics (all lots)
  • Dynamic Color – Black tattoo ink manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc  (lots 12024090 and 12026090)
  • Solid Ink-Diablo (red) tattoo ink manufactured by Color Art Inc. (dba Solid Ink) (dba Antone’s Ink) (lot 10.19.18)

You can read the full FDA statement here. If you do become sick as a result of contaminated tattoo ink, the FDA says you should contact your healthcare provider immediately, inform your tattoo artist and update Medwatch, the FDA’s Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

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