Dirty Ink

Here’s a new rub on tattoos that may have you rethink the process: A new study has associated contaminated ink with a rash of skin infections in upstate New York. The infections were ultimately traced to the same pre-mixed tattoo ink.

Even when the tattoo parlor maintains the highest of standards of hygienic practice, there’s still a risk of infection from contaminated ink, researchers affiliated with public health agencies in Monroe County, N.Y., reported in the the New England Journal of Medicine. The infections diagnosed in the study were the type associated with diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis.

As an interesting side note, researchers point out that the FDA has never approved an ink or pigment for injection into the skin and inks do not have to be tested for safety or purity before they are sold to consumers.