Tattoo Risks and Side Effects


More people are choosing to get tattoos than ever before, with statistics showing that around 40% of young adults have at least one tattoo of someone on their bodies.

And it's easy to see why tattoos are proving so popular; they're seen by many as a unique form of expression, allowing individuals to share parts of their personality, honor loved ones, or express something important to them in a bold and beautiful way.

However, getting a tattoo is not a decision that should be taken lightly. It's vital for anyone considering a tattoo to carry out the necessary research regarding the potential health effects of tattoos, weighing up the tattoo benefits and risks and thinking carefully before making a decision.

There can be some negative effects of tattoos and even permanent tattoo side effects if you work with an unlicensed or inexperienced artist, or if your body reacts negatively to the process. This guide will take a look at some of the main tattoo side effects and risks to take into account.

Tattoo Risks and Tattoo Side Effects to Consider

It's important to remember that the process of getting a tattoo involves a small needle piercing and puncturing the skin over and over again, injecting colorful pigments to stain the skin cells in the process. It's not exactly a natural or friendly process for your body.

Unsurprisingly, many people experience pain while getting tattoos, especially in certain parts of the body. And the body can react badly during the recovery phase too.

Of course, if everything goes well, you can end up with a great piece of body art, exactly as intended, but things can go badly, and some of the possible health effects of tattoos can be quite serious and unpleasant to experience.

Skin Infections

Many of the main risks and negative effects of tattoos occur after getting the tattoo, while the tattooed area is still raw and the ink is fresh. This is a key part of the recovery phase, and it's also the time when your skin is most likely to be infected.

During the first two weeks, the skin will be weak and at risk of bacterial infections caused by the likes of staph bacteria. Symptoms of these infections can include redness in the skin, itchiness, swelling, and discharge.

And if the infection is allowed to spread without prompt treatment, additional symptoms can appear like fevers and dizziness. In the worst cases, this can even lead to chronic or permanent tattoo side effects.


It's also worth knowing that a potential tattoo effect on skin is an allergic reaction. Some people are unaware that they are allergic to certain types of tattoo ink, with reports showing that red, blue, yellow, and green pigments tend to be the most likely to cause allergic reactions.

Symptoms of a tattoo allergy can include swelling, rashes, hives, and itchiness, and these reactions can be very dangerous. There's also a risk that you may not have any reaction right away, but could suddenly suffer a tattoo allergy years later.


One of the main negative effects of tattoos is that they technically cause injury to the skin. When the skin is injured, the body works to heal the damaged area. This can trigger the scarring process. In some cases, special kinds of scars, known as keloid scars, can form.

Keloid scars are distinguished by the presence of raised bumps or lumps in the skin, containing old scar tissue. So you may notice little lumps appearing around the tattooed area that may require surgery or laser treatment to shrink or remove.

Blood-borne Diseases

As explained above, the tattoo process involves the use of little needles that repeatedly pierce the skin. Any official, licensed, reputable tattoo artist will make use of sterilized needles to prevent any kind of contamination, and this is a legal obligation in most places.

However, if you work with a tattoo artist who isn't using sterilized needles, there's a major risk of blood-borne diseases being passed from one person to another when the same needles are used. These infections can include the likes of hepatitis and HIV, representing one of the biggest potential health risks of tattoos.

Harder to Detect Cancer

Another of the many possible side effects of tattoos is that your tattoo could make it harder for you or your doctor to spot signs of skin cancer on your body.

A very large or dark-colored tattoo, for example, could conceal the signs like red patches, rashes, or moles on your body that could be caused by skin cancer. This can lead to a late diagnosis of cancer and a wide range of consequences for the individual in question.

Scan Problems

There are various cases in which a doctor might recommend that you have an MRI scan. These scans can be used to identify and diagnose issues with bones, joints, blood vessels, and even the brain. However, if you have a tattoo, the process may encounter some complications.

MRI scanners have been known to cause irritation, itchiness, and swelling in tattoos. This is especially true for those who have had tattoos with low-quality ink, or if the tattoo is quite old.


Another of the big risks of tattoos that aren’t directly connected to physical health but is still worth talking about is regret. A huge percentage of tattooed people experience some sort of regret, with many regretting the location, size, or design of their tattoo.

This can have a knock-on effect on a person's mental health, potentially leading to body image issues, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and other side effects that can all be linked back to the tattoo.

Be Aware of Tattoo Risks and Make the Best Decision for Your Body

It's important for anyone considering a tattoo to take the decision seriously. You need to be aware of the various health effects of tattoos and the potential risks and side effects, not just the benefits. Only by getting all of the relevant information can you make the right call for your body.

And if you do decide to get a tattoo, be sure to work with a licensed tattoo artist and follow the correct aftercare procedures and recommendations to minimize your chances of infections and tattoo side effects.