If you were planning on starting the summer off with a brand new tattoo, I have some terrifying (and disgusting) news for you.
The Food and Drug Administration updated their tattoo guidelines earlier this week to warn people about the dangers of moldy tattoo ink.
Yes... moldy tattoo ink exists, and it's just as gross as it sounds.
The FDA hasn't updated their guidelines for tattoos in over a decade.
However, the administration decided those guidelines needed some adjustment after receiving 363 reports from 2004 to 2016 of infections from moldy ink, causing some dangerous rashes and some nasty scarring.
It's great that they're looking out -- but in case you want to keep a lookout for yourself, be sure your tattoo parlor is as clean as your doctor's office and make sure your artist is breaking out new tools for every step of the process.
Sounds easy enough, right?
It'd be great if it was that easy, however, it's not.
The problem is moldy ink, and unfortunately, the FDA doesn't even regulate inks used for cosmetic surgeries. Those inks can be contaminated by the water that's used to break up pigments, and the ink can be contaminated even if it's in a sealed container marked "sterile."
This is all written within the FDA report, which states, “There's no sure-fire way to tell if the ink is safe.”
Not only that, but since the ink used in tattoo parlors is permanent, any rashes or reactions that do occur can persist even years after you go under the needle.
Does it get any scarier than this?
Well, yeah. Even without being contaminated, some inks used for tattooing can contain pigments from car paint and printer toner.
Pretty fucking gross.
So if you've got big plans for that summer tattoo and you just can't let go, understand that you're taking a calculated risk. Do as much research as you possibly can while choosing an artist to ensure they're being clean.
If you still have some misconceptions, speak to your dermatologist and ask your doctor for her or his advice on whether or not there's any risks you may not be aware of.