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Tattoo Side Effects Linked to Weak Immune Systems

By Sandy Schroeder

A small butterfly tattoo or a perfect little heart may be a very tempting tattoo, but you might want to skip it if you have a weak immune system.

Scottish research reported in the journal BMJ Case Reports indicate tattoos can have unexpected negative issues in individuals who have low immunity. The tattoo may trigger intense muscle pain with no outside connections such as an accident.

Here’s an Example

Researchers studied a young woman who got a tattoo while she was on immunosuppressive drugs. She experienced  pain and weakness in the thigh muscle, requiring strong prescription pain medications. They helped, but did not solve the situation Ten months later she still had the problem.

A complete examination and biopsy of the thigh muscle revealed chronic muscle inflammation with muscle weakness and pain, known as inflammatory myopathy. This type of pain can come up without cause, but researchers believe it was linked to her tattoo that was complicated by her weak immune system.

Who Might Have a Weak Immune System?

The Guardian explained the immune system’s job of fighting off infection can be weakened by many different causes.

  • Cancer (chemotherapy)
  • Extended steroid use
  • Malnutrition
  • Inherited immune system disorders
  • Organ transplants with immunosuppressive diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Unexpected environmental changes

Who Has a Tattoo?

More than 20 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo. In the 18 to 29 age group, the figures jump to 40 percent with 18 percent having six or more. 

What about the Inks?

The Food and Drug Administration says tattoo dyes are often made from printer toner or car paint! They were never intended to be injected into a person’s body. This can become a voluntary compromise of health that can quickly go awry if the immune system is compromised. 

Time to Pause

Individuals getting a tattoo can experience everything from mild skin irritation to a systemic infection, according to doctors. If you already have a tattoo, or are considering getting one, it might be wise to pause to check your immune system with your doctor.  Find out where your immune system stands, and consider doing more research to find out about the methods being used and places where you might have a tattoo done.

You might also look for less invasive tattoos that wash off and never invade your system. Butterflies and hearts can show up, and then disappear whenever you choose, without invading your body. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Boulder, Colo.

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