Six types of tattoo ink recalled due to risk of infection, what you need to know to avoid risk and stay safe getting tattooed.

On May 15, the Food and Drug Administration issued a recall and warning on certain tattoo inks on the basis that the inks are possibly contaminated with microorganisms. The warning is directed at tattoo artists, retailers of tattoo inks, and those people considering a new tattoo. The warning does not apply to those with healed and older tattoos.

Six inks are included in the recall list and are manufactured by Dynamic Color Inc., Color Art, and Scalp Aesthetics. The affected ink products are shown below, along with photographs from the FDA:

Dynamic Color – Dynamic Color black tattoo ink (lots 12024090 and 12026090).

Dynamic Color Ink

Image courtesy of fda.gov.

Color Art Inc. – Solid Ink-Diablo (red), also sold as Solid Ink and Antone’s Ink (lot 10.19.18).

Colar Art Diablo Red tattoo ink

Image courtesy of fda.gov.

Scalp Aesthetics – All lots of Scalpaink SC, Scalpaink PA, and Scalpaink AL basic black ink.

Scalp Aesthetics Black tattoo ink

Image courtesy of fda.gov.

These inks have serious potential for infection and injury.

Infections can occur from the contaminated ink causing rashes, lesions, raised red bumps on the skin, and even permanent scarring. Infection can start out seeming a lot like an allergic reaction which can make it hard to determine or lead to misdiagnosis. Tattooing itself comes with a risk of infection, as the process involves injecting ink into minuscule holes made in the skin. The risk of infection increases any time the skin barrier is broken and can lead to very serious health issues.

 

The FDA discovered the contaminated inks as it conducted its inspections for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which includes manufacturers and distributors, regular surveys of tattoo inks, as well as taken samples of inks and conducted microbiological analysis on them.

Consumers are recommended to ask about the inks that are being used when they get a new tattoo, and all retailers and tattoo artist have been asked to stop using and selling the contaminated inks. If you recently got a tattoo, check with your shop or artist to make sure you were not tattooed using these inks.

Anyone with signs of infection needs to have their symptoms checked by a medical professional, as well as need to inform the tattoo artist and consider reporting the infection or injury to the FDA.

The FDA is working with manufacturers and retailers to make sure all contaminated products have been removed from the market, as well as make sure that future inks are not contaminated.

Man's arm with tattoo sleeve

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

Being aware of what products are being used and the risk associated with any tattoo procedure is quite important when deciding to get a tattoo. Even if you have a lot of tattoos, it's important to check every time you get one that the products and equipment being used are sanitary and will not lead to long term serious health problems – Infections, allergic reactions, development of nodules around the tattoo site, blood-borne diseases (due to use of contaminated needles) and burning or swelling at the tattoo site.

Tattoos also can have a chance of interference with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The risk of this last one comes from the use of heavy metals in some tattoo inks. Do your research, know the risks, and make sure you are only going to a licensed and reputable tattoo artist in a professional shop. Ask about the recall and make sure you know what inks and shades are affected so you can ensure that high-quality ink and safe tattooing practices are being used. If not, take a pause and find another place.

As part of the tattooed population myself, this news from the FDA certainly made me a little uneasy; and while I am happy that I am not affected by this current recall, it is a good reminder to stay on top of what is going on in the industry.

What do you think? Does this recall make you have second thoughts about getting a tattoo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.