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SELF.COM — Looking to get inked? You’ll definitely want to check out the Food and Drug Administration’s updated tattoo consumer recommendations before going under the needle.
The FDA recently released new information about the potential risks of getting tattooed—pegged to 363 incident reports recorded between 2004 and 2016. The reports include mentions of scarring, allergy-related rashes, and—perhaps most concerning—moldy or contaminated tattoo ink. So if you’re not careful about where you go, you might end up with an artist who uses non-sterile equipment or ink that has bacteria or mold in it. (But don’t freak out just yet!)
Bobby Buka, M.D., a New York dermatologist, tells SELF he’s encountered plenty of cases of tattoos-gone-wrong in his practice. Some are allergic reactions, and others are flare-ups of pre-existing skin conditions (like psoriasis). But he’s also seen several patients who have bacterial or fungal infections—like the kind that result from unsanitary conditions. “As tattoos become more prevalent, we see a wider range of artists,” Buka says. “And some of these artists don’t follow the same strict standard procedures that more dedicated artists do.”