Floral drawings, thoughts, song lyrics, travel memories and even portraits of children and people you love: imprinted on your skin the moments or people you love with tattoos is now the custom of one in ten Italians. There are those who are more or less used to the pain of the needle, those who heal more or less quickly from the small scabs that inevitably form on the skin after the “operation”.

But what does our skin really think about the tattoos and how does it react?

Professor Antonio Costanzo, head of Dermatology at Humanitas and lecturer at Humanitas University, talked about it in an interview with La Stampa.

Tattoo: what are the most common consequences?

According to Professor Costanzo, the most widespread and complained about consequences by patients who visit the dermatologist after a tattoo concern allergies: “these are the most frequent adverse events – explains Professor Costanzo – and are caused by the reaction against one of the components of the pigment”. Itching, burning and pain that extends beyond the ‘colored’ area of the tattoo.

In many cases, however, these allergies “can be prevented,” warns Costanzo: “prevention passes through allergic tests, which must of course be carried out before tattooing to check for the presence of any intolerances or allergies to dyes”.

The most dangerous colors

These are the orange, red, yellow and orange ones: “from a dermatological point of view, they are shades that cause allergies more easily and contain more than other polycarbons, a substance that, if absorbed in large quantities, could have a potential carcinogenic effect”, warns Prof. Costanzo.

But does the scientific literature suggest that there is a link between tattoos and cancer? To date, this consequence has not been fully demonstrated, but there are some signals: according to one of the recent studies conducted on the subject and published in the journal “Scientific Reports” some toxic and potentially carcinogenic particles such as titanium dioxide contained in the ink tends to be released in the body and to accumulate in the lymph nodes. “A clear effect – confirms the professor – every time doctors perform a test of the sentinel node on tattooed patients: the lymph nodes near the tattooed area are dark and even black.

The advice of the dermatologist: beware of the rules and the used products

When you decide to get a tattoo, you have to choose carefully the center to rely on and be sure that the products used are in accordance with the law and tested: “There is a lack of rules at European level – explains the doctor – and an obvious difficulty to put order in a market like those for tattooing inks. Many products come from abroad and we don’t know what they contain and how safe they are”.

To this end, Italy is at the forefront and has drawn up a series of “banned substances that are much broader and more restrictive than other European countries”.