(NaturalNews) The pain associated with tattoos is usually geared toward the needles; this time, the ink is the culprit. At least 14 cases of skin infections have appeared in New York within the last year, and others have been found in Washington, Colorado and Iowa. When traced back to the original source, what appears to be the cause? Contaminated water.
The patients in these cases have turned up with what appears to be an allergic reaction: a rash at the site of the tattoo with a number of small red bumps. While an allergy to tattoo ink is possible, the symptoms examined have actually been diagnosed as cases of Mycrobacterium chelonae.
Mycrobacterium chelonae is a form of mycobacteria commonly found in nature, notably in drinking water. If left untreated, it can lead to various syndromes, such as lung disease, ocular disease and joint infections. It can also cause a secondary infection if it spreads. It has been noted that tattoo parlors may provide ointments for infection, but these ointments are unlikely to have the proper effect on this bacteria. Unfortunately, chlorination has no effect either.
Treatment and recovery takes at least six months, and the initial diagnosis is often difficult to pinpoint.
Tattoo artists sometimes dilute ink with distilled or purified water. One of the cases in Colorado linked an infection to a parlor with this unsterilized practice. In the New York cases; however, it was found that the artist's procedures were not the cause. The investigation then moved to the manufacturers, and the bacteria was identified in samples taken. It is suspected the contamination occurred from unsafe practices or tainted ingredients.
Getting a tattoo has always posed various health risks. An artist should always use new, sterilized needles and wear surgical gloves. Parlors and workstations should be kept clean. This recent outbreak of infections demonstrates, though, that no matter how safe and clean a shop and its artists are, there is still always potential for complications. Those getting tattoos should be aware of the symptoms of Mycrobacterium chelonae and seek medical attention if they believe they may have been infected.