Thinking About Getting a Tattoo or Need a Tattoo Removal?
From 2010 to 2015, the tattoo industry grew exponentially. In 2015 the Federal Drug Administration estimated that nearly 45 million Americans had at least one tattoo. An expansion in the variety of tattoo services that are offered by artists (i.e. invisible ink, 3D tattoos, and more detailed tattoos) has been largely responsible for this boon. The industry will only continue to grow as new technologies become readily available to the industry. Pine Belt Dermatology & Skin Cancer Centers offer tattoo removal services, but we also wanted to educate our clientele on ways in which to care for and maintain their body art! You paid good money for the artwork, so here are some ways to keep the ink looking pristine for as long as possible. Many of the suggestions that follow can be found on the American Academy of Dermatology’s website:
- See a dermatologist if something looks or feels wrong: Whether your tattoo is brand new or years old, if your skin in that area is changing in any way, consult with a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible. Your skin may be having a bad reaction to the ink, and this can even happen years later. A dermatologist can quickly diagnose what’s happening and recommend treatment. Any change or growth in your skin is something that you want to have a healthcare professional look at.
- Block it from the sun’s rays: Because ultraviolet light (UV) can fade some inks (and in some cases, cause a painful skin reaction!), protect your art by applying at least an SPF 30 broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen. You could also use tinted sunscreen to further protect your skin and your art work – PBD sells EltaMD tinted sunscreen products. Always apply it 15 minutes before going outside, allowing the skin to absorb it, and re-apply every 2 hours.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps: Not only do these practices increase the chance of the ink color fading or having a bad reaction, they also increase your risk for skin cancer. You have a higher risk of developing skin cancer from tanning than a smoker’s chance of developing lung cancer. Skin cancer blemishes (or pre-skin cancer blemishes) can hide in your ink, making it more difficult to detect… So stay away from the tanning equipment!
- Use the RIGHT moisturizer: Sometimes, tattooed skin can become dry – but did you know that the type of moisturizer you use can negatively affect your ink? If dry skin occurs on the tattoo area, apply a water-based lotion or cream to the tattoo; petroleum-based products can cause the ink to fade!
- Get a professional to remove unwanted ink: If you no longer want a tattoo, consult with a one of our providers at Pine Belt Dermatology & Skin Cancer Center to find out your best options. Avoid self-removal kits that can be purchased online. These products are not regulated by the U.S. FDA and many contain acid that can permanently injure your skin. There is no need to risk causing skin damage, come see us and we will take care of it. Surgical removals and home remedies may or may not completely remove the tattoo, but will for sure leave terrible scarring. PBD uses a more sophisticated method of tattoo removal that is FDA approved and that will reduce the chance of scarring!
If you are considering a new tattoo:
- Tattoo on an area free of moles: A tattoo covering moles can make it more difficult to see the earliest signs of skin cancer. When caught early, skin cancer (including melanoma which is the deadliest form), can be treated usually with a very good prognosis. Tattoos can make detecting other skin conditions more difficult as well, so be sure to closely monitor those areas that are covered.
- Exercise caution with skin issue history: There is a significant amount of risk that one takes when getting a tattoo. Patients should be cautious about getting tattoos if they have current or a prior history (or family history) of skin diseases. Certain skin disorders like psoriasis, lichen planus, vitiligo, warts and sarcoidosis, just to name a few, can spread or erupt on tattooed skin sites.