Chemicals in tattoo ink travel in the bloodstream and accumulate in the lymph nodes, which may cause them to become swollen and therefore hinder their ability to fight infections, a study found for the first time.
"No one checks the chemical composition of the colours, but our study shows that maybe they should", Castillo added.
For dark tattoos carbon, black and titanium dioxide (TiO2) are most common materials and sometimes a white pigment mixed with other colors for shading.
The fact is that the people have only limited knowledge on the possible impurities present in the color mixture used on the skin. It is a white pigment used to create shades by mixing with colorants. It is often used in paints, sunscreens, and food additive. Delayed healing, along with skin elevation and itching, are often associated with white tattoos, and by outcome with the use of TiO2.
Luckily, researchers from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin in collaboration with researchers from the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in France took an interest. Since tattoos cause wounds, the lymph nodes respond by cleaning the entrance of the #Tattoo Ink.
The potential threats of tattoos were previously investigated through in vitro chemical analysis of the inks and its degradation products. "What we didn't know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behaviour as the particles at a micro level", said Bernhard Hesse, from ESRF.
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Only the tiniest, nano-scale particles made it into the lymph nodes. Particles still finer were also present in the lymph nodes.
The researchers are anxious because the persistence of a foreign body in the lymph nodes may cause chronic inflammation.
To evaluate the biomolecular changes happening in the tissues located near the tattoo particles, the researchers also used Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy.
"Altogether we report strong evidence for both migration and long-term deposition of toxic elements and tattoo pigments as well as for conformational alterations of biomolecules that likely contribute to cutaneous inflammation and other adversities upon tattooing", the researchers wrote in their study.
According to Gizmodo, this very mechanism is the sources of the stains observed in the lymph nodes of tattooed individuals.
From here, the team plans to conduct further research exploring the links between the chemical structures of tattoo pigments and adverse effects using patient samples.