Are you aware that getting a tattoo could end up causing you liver cancer or cirrhosis?
Even though we all love tattoos, it's clear that these precious pieces of design that we carry on our skin come with a lot of responsibility. When we first get them, we need to cater them, use ointments, rinse them constantly, and avoid exposing them to the sun. All this to make sure that they heal properly. Yet, the biggest responsibility we have when it comes to tattoos is choosing wisely the place where we are going to get them, because it's a matter that concerns our health and overall wellbeing.
Many of us know that when we get a tattoo, we can also be exposing ourselves to other people's blood, and consequently, to a lot of the diseases. Among these maladies, one of the worst you can get is the hepatitis virus, which develops into hepatitis C, a rather common yet terrible illness that makes your liver swell chronically.
Despite being a terrible disease, Hepatitis C is slow, and it takes a lot of time to develop in your body. Actually, there are lots of people who don't present symptoms of the illness for over thirty years, and the consequences of not getting it treated can be deadly. Having a swollen liver is not something you would want to live through, as it can develop into a chronic illness, which actually has a very high rate of mortality. This happens because the inflammation on your liver not only makes you more likely of generating cancer cells within it, but also because swelling causes the normal tissue in the organ to be replaced by scar tissue, which ends up wrecking the organ's functions (that's what we call cirrhosis!).
According to the World Health Organization, more than 70 million people in the world have hepatitis C, and out of them, nearly 40, 000 die each year because of a disease related to this rather nasty illness. To make things worse, a study from NYU's Langone Medical Center proved that people infected with hepatitis reported having four times as many tattoos than people who don't carry the disease.
It is clear, then, that getting a tattoo is no joke and that you should consider getting your ink in the safest environment possible. There are several health points you should keep in mind, and if you see anything fishy going on, it's better to look for the best place to get your tattoo. Don't forget that the easiest way to catch blood-borne diseases is by sharing needles, so you should always look for a studio were things are so squeaky-clean that it makes you feel as if you were going to your shiny dentist's office.
When you choose the tattoo parlor of your preference, make sure it's licensed. You should never trust a shady tattoo parlor. The cleanliness of the place should make you feel as safe and hygienic as in a hospital. You can make sure things are all right with the place by hanging around a day before just to be completely positive that everything is running safely. Pay close attention to the tattoo artist's habits and how they treat the equipment.
To reduce the risk of getting an infection, it is not only important that the tattoo artist uses new needles and fresh ink for every customer. Be sure that they don't recycle any of that material. You should also make sure that all the instruments in the parlor have gone through serious sterilization. Pay special attention to this point: cleaning tattoo instruments with hot water and alcohol is not a proper way to sterilize anything. If you see your tattoo artist doing this, then it's definitely a no-no. Finally, make sure that all the needles are taken from their own hermetic separate package: only by doing this you can be absolutely sure that the needles that will puncture your body are absolutely new. Also make sure that the needle that was used on your body is disposed after your tattooing session.
Take care of yourself and get your fantastic ink in the safest environment possible.
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Images and Tattoo Designs by Sasha Unisex (@sashaunisex)