A growing number of people are getting inked all over the US as tattoos have become increasingly popular among the younger set. In fact, a study conducted by the Pew Research Institute reveals that 38% of young people aged 18 to 29 have at least one tattoo. While tattoos have become part of the mainstream culture and have become socially acceptable today, there are still some nagging concerns that are making people think twice about getting that radical design or meaningful phrase permanently inked on their bodies.

Now, it appears that people may have something else to be worried about as a new research has found that tattoo ink particles can make their way inside the human body. Moreover, the study reveals that instead of getting naturally expelled, tattoo ink may stay inside the body for years. Whether you’re thinking about getting your first—or your fifteenth—tattoo, here’s what you need to know about how ink particles can enter your body and if you should be concerned about it.

From Your Skin To Your Body

If you’ve never gotten a tattoo, it’s important to know what exactly happens during the whole process. To get that colorful design or text on your skin, a tattoo artist will puncture your skin with a needle to inject the ink into the dermis. Some light bleeding may occur while this goes on. Afterward, you’re sent on your way with reminders not to pick or scratch your tattoo, among other aftercare instructions.

Apparently, it doesn’t stop there. According to the study published by Scientific Reports, the ink particles can make their way to your bloodstream and eventually, to your lymph nodes.

In a bid to find out whether tattoo ink has an adverse effect on the body, researchers collected tissue samples from six individuals who donated their body to medical research upon death. Four of the bodies had tattoos, and it was noted that aluminum, iron, nickel, titanium, and copper, and chromium were found in the inked bodies. Moreover, two of the four tattooed corpses had ink in their lymph nodes. The research points out that pigmented and enlarged lymph nodes have been seen in tattooed individuals for decades.

Ink In Your Body: A Threat To Your Health?

Although it is unknown whether having tattoo pigment particles in lymph nodes can be a danger to one’s health, the presence of all the other potentially toxic elements in tattoo ink are raising concerns. For instance, some scientists have suggested that aluminum in the body may be a risk factor in the development of breast cancer. Meanwhile, there have also been reports that the presence of chromium in drinking water can cause cancer while inhaling hexavalent chromium or Chromium VI has been linked to lung cancer. No concrete evidence has been given as to whether the presence of these elements in tattoo pigments can be harmful to one’s health.

Still Want That Tattoo? Here’s What You Should Do

Further studies have yet to be done in order to fully understand how tattoo ink pigments can affect our health. For now, if you still want to get inked, remember to go to a licensed tattoo artist and to follow all aftercare instructions properly. If you feel dizzy and feel sharp pains in the tattooed area several days after getting inked, these are signs that the tattoo site may have been infected. To be on the safe side, consult your doctor if you feel unwell after getting your tattoo.


1. More young people have a tattoo than ever before and it needs to be discussed, Delaware Online,https://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/health/2017/09/20/report-more-young-people-have-tattoo-than-ever-before-and-needs-talked/682396001/

2. Tattoo Aftercare: What You Need To Know, Healthline,https://www.healthline.com/health/tattoo-aftercare

3. Synchrotron-based ν-XRF mapping and μ-FTIR microscopy enable to look into the fate and effects of tattoo pigments in human skin, Scientific Reports,https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-11721-z

4. Antiperspirants and Breast Cancer Risk, American Cancer Society,https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/antiperspirants-and-breast-cancer-risk.html

5. Chromium in Drinking Water Causes Cancer, Scientific American,https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chromium-water-cancer/