One of the hidden risks of getting a tattoo is that your body can be allergic to some of the ingredients found in the ink. Any sort of foreign substance, including the dyes found in tattoos, can trigger a reaction on your skin that causes redness, itching and other changes. What makes tattoo ink allergies so troublesome is that some forms of this type of allergy can evade detection by common allergy testing methods, which means you can develop an allergic reaction to some of the components of a tattoo even if you are tested by a dermatologist for an allergy. Like most kinds of allergies, allergic reactions to ingredients in tattoo ink depends on the compounds found in the ink.
Red Tattoo Ink
Red tattoo inks are the most common cause of allergic reactions to tattoos. One of the most dangerous compounds found in some red inks is cinnabar, also known as mercury chloride. Not only can the mercury in cinnabar potentially cause mercury poisoning, but mercury is also one of the more potent potential allergens in tattoo ink. Other compounds that can be found in red tattoo ink include iron oxide (also known as rust), cadmium red and napthol-AS pigment. All of these compounds can generate allergic reactions, though napthol reds, derived from the compound naptha, are the least allergenic of all the compounds found in red tattoo ink.
Black Tattoo Ink
Black tattoo inks may be made with carbon (found in soot), iron oxide or logwood, an extract made from the plant Haematoxylon campechisnum. Other natural compounds that can be used in blank inks include magnetite crystals and powdered jet. These compounds only rarely trigger allergic reactions; most amateur tattoos contain large amounts of black, accounting for their relatively low rate of causing allergies.
Brown Tattoo Ink
Brown tattoo ink is commonly made from ochre, which is a mixture of ferric oxides and clay. Raw ochre has a yellow color and it develops a reddish huh when dehydrated through heating. There is little documentation of allergies to ochre. Ochre can also be used to make flesh-colored inks.
Yellow Tattoo Ink
Yellow tattoo ink can be made from ochres, curcuma yellow (derived from ginger), chrome yellow and cadmium chloride. Yellow pigments are associated with allergic reactions for two reasons: large amounts of pigment are often needed to generate a sufficiently yellow color and the presence of cadmium chloride. Cadmium chloride is associated with allergies triggered by sunlight.
Green Tattoo Ink
Green tattoo dyes can be made from a variety of compounds, including chromium oxide, malachite, lead chromate, Monazo pigment, ferrocyanides and copper phtalocyanine. Green dyes are often made from a mixture of these compounds and rarely cause allergic reactions. However, some additives in green dyes, such as chromium, aluminum and cobalt-containing chemicals can lead to allergic reactions
Blue Tattoo Ink
Blue pigments are primarily derived from minerals, such as copper carbonate, copper thalocyanine, calcium copper silicate, sodium aluminum silicate, chromium oxides and cobalt oxides. Blue tattoo dyes are known to cause some allergies, though dyes derived from copper-based molecules (such as copper thalocyanine) are typically more stable and less allergenic.
Violet Tattoo Ink
Violet tattoo ink can be made from aluminum salts, manganese ammonium pyrophosphate, dioxazine and carbazole. Many of these compounds are photoreactive, which means that their color will fade after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Dioxazine and carbazole are the most stable of the violet pigments. Violet ink made with manganese may result in a granulomatous allergic reaction.
White Tattoo Ink
White pigments can be used to dilute other dyes or on their own. Common ingredients in white tattoo inks include lead carbonate, titanium oxide, zinc oxide and barium sulfate. Of the white pigments, titanium oxide is the most stable.
The recipe for different tattoo dyes is proprietary information, which means that the manufacturer does not have to list the ingredients. However, because of the risk of allergy, most tattoo parlors will know what is contained in what dyes and can direct you to the least allergenic varieties. However, even with the most careful selection of dyes, an allergic reaction to a dye is possible.
If you are experiencing an allergic reaction to your tattoo, don’t hesitate to call us at Blink Tattoo Removal and receive a free consultation.
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