Tattoos can be bad for your health

August 22, 2012|By Andrea K. Walker

You may make a fashion statement with that tattoo, but the FDA warns you could also put your health at risk.

The regulatory agency issued a warning Wednesday about getting inked after a recent outbreak linked to the family of bacteria called nontuberculous Mycobacteria. 

One species of the bacteria, spread through tattoo ink, can cause lung disease, joint infection, eye problems and other organ infections, the FDA said. The infections are difficult to diagnose and require long, intense treatment regiments. NTM infections may look like allergic reactions.

The FDA said even if tattoo artists practice good hygiene they may not know the ink is contaminated.  

The agency also said that tattoo ink can become contaminated by other bacteria, mold and fungi.

Tattoo artists often give out ointments that don't work on the infections, FDA said.

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