Tattoos are Popular

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male tattoos on arms

Last updated 01/19/2021

Are you considering getting a tattoo? It can be fun and exciting, with limitless images to choose from and the colors. There are many decisions to make. Let’s start with what to get, where to place it and the size (Like I said lots to think about). You may want to do your research because after all, it is permanent.

What is Tattooing and Where to Get One

Tattooing is a service done by a tattoo artist who should have many years of training. This establishment may be called a Tattoo shop, Tattoo studio or Tattoo parlor (how many tattoos are in that sentence?). This is similar to salon/spa setting with chairs or tables in stations.  The skin is the tattoo artist palette.

Depending on your state, an examination may be required for a license. Also completion of a training program and the Apprentice program may take years.

Equipment includes a tattoo machine having a needle (maybe not for squeamish) to go in and out of the skin at a fast speed injecting the ink.

Take into consideration how often the tattoo would be exposed. Some employers and careers don’t appreciate tattoos (similar to piercings). A few countries still consider them taboo.

For whatever reason you may want to get a tattoo; self-expression, breast cancer, a subject you connect with or maybe to honor a special occasion. Know what to expect and the risk.

History of the Tattoo

The tattoo goes back thousands of years. Tribes and mummies have been discovered tattooed. It is an old tradition. The oldest found, a mummy of Otzi, the iceman, dating back from the 5th to 4th millennium BC. Some cultures used tattoos as a form of healing and for religious worship.

Tattoos were considered barbaric according to Christianity.  It was at times only for sailors and those of lower class.

During the 1960s with the hippies it slowly entered the mainstream becoming a more acceptable way of self-expression.

Tattoos are still taboo in Japan. Guests are refused, if tattooed, from certain facilities. They were illegal from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century. This is connected to the association with criminals.

South Korea only allows tattoos to be given by medical doctors. Like Japan they are frowned upon.

Today in most countries; adults, all sexes and economic classes, if you want to wear a tattoo, can. With the modern age they have become popular and more accepted than ever. Even royalty has been tattooed.

Tattoo Ink under the Skin

So what really takes place with the skin while you get tattooed? The tattoo machine injects an ink through the epidermis to the dermis by pricking the skin. This creates an open wound. The immune system is alerted, macrophages travel to heal the wound and attack the foreign invasion.

These cells actually eat the foreign material trying to clean up the mess. While the macrophages continue through our blood vessels some may be bounced back into lymph nodes.

The macrophages aren’t able to dissolve and dispose of the ink so it stays stuck in the dermis making it visible through our skin.

Tattooing darker skin differs somewhat and takes practice. Seek an artist with experience in the technique and application of tattooing darker skin.

Modern day has ink manufactures using more organic pigments. Most are carbon-based and azo pigments. Around 30% of these pigments and dyes have been approved for cosmetic use.

Like everything these days, additives of surfactants, binding agents, fillers and preservatives are included.

female tattoos on arms surrounded by flowers
female tattoos on arms surrounded by flowers photo by Stevan Gabriel from

What to Expect When Getting Tattooed

Anesthetics are not given. I think it’s gonna hurt. There may be slight to significant pain. Keep in mind some areas are more sensitive:

  • Forehead
  • Neck
  • Spine
  • Ribs
  • Hands or fingers
  • Ankles
  • Top of feet

During the tattooing you may experience; scratching, sharp stinging, burning, vibrating or dullness.

Small amount of bleeding and weeping is expected. Keep covered first twenty-four hours and change the bandage. The bandage should not become soaked, it may stick to wound. This will be irritating to skin.

Area may be red and inflamed like sunburn. Inflammation is part of the healing process. You will begin to scab, don’t pick.

Itching is also normal. There may be some peeling. Let the scabs and skin slough off, let them be.

A tattoo may trigger or make psoriasis worse.

Those with autoimmune disorders or on immune-suppressive medication may take longer to heal.

Tattoos with metals may have the rare chance of becoming hot during an MRI procedure.

Healing Process After Your Tattoo

Use a fragrance-free soap and water to clean. Fragrance is the number one allergen. Only the hand should be used and not a harsh item like a washcloth or body puff.

These could introduce bacteria. Left over ink, blood and ointment may remain after your tattoo and this needs to be remove

You don’t want to come into contact with anything that could irritate the wound or create a wound on top of the tattoo. This too will affect the color as well as the shape.

Use a moisturizer that breaths. Clothing should not be worn on top of the tattoo. It must be allowed to breath. Vitamin E oil or an over-the-counter ointment should be applied, available at many stores, and this is a thin layer. You may also purchase breathable bandages.

Stay out of the sun. Not only is it bad for your skin but it affects the tattoo. Use sunscreen if out. The sun rays damage the dermis (tattoo is here).

You don’t want a sunburn on top of your tattoo (eeeew ouch!). The sun not only breaks up the pigment when absorbed but also makes the healing process longer.

Don’t scratch. Scratching may damage it by fading the color and it may also present a scar. Scratching can lead to an infection and other conditions. Be careful not to press or rub too hard either.

Wear looser clothing. Tight clothing can rub against the tattoo, again irritating it.

So for the first couple weeks you will have to alter your routine to ensure a smooth healing process. You want it to look good, right?

Risk that Come Along with Tattoos

Infections occur most often due to scratching.

Allergic reactions are caused by dyes red, green, yellow and blue. These can cause an itchy rash even years after getting the tattoo.

Granuloma is an inflammation in the area around the tattoo ink.

Keloids are common with some ethnic groups. These are overgrowths forming scar tissue.

MRSA, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C may develop from unsanitary equipment. An autoclave to sterilize non-disposable items should be used.

Hepatitis was a big concern after World War ll. Regulations may monitor the possibility of infection and disease transmission from unsanitary conditions or procedures.

tattoos on forearms
tattoos on forearms photo by Matheus Ferrero from

Procedures to Remove a Tattoo

Although there are procedures to remove a tattoo, it is costly and may be more painful than getting the tattoo. Some colors aren’t so easy to remove.

All removal methods consist of a surgical procedure. The most common is Laser therapy and this is done over multiple sessions. The ink is shattered causing the tattoo to fade. This allows the immune system to clean things up.

Temporary Tattoos

Yes, I guess there are some temporary versions. If you don’t want the permanent kind there are temporary tattoos. These can be applied with henna, ballpoint pen or water soluble sticker. If you're not quite sure you can still experience one.

Usually people don’t think of the maintenance but over time sun exposure may fade the colors and affect the appearance of the tattoo. Weight gain and pregnancy will alter shape.

Are you still going to appreciate and be comfortable with the tattoo as you age? If it is the permanent kind?

Please share and subscribe to email. Thank you for your purchase!

Header Photo male with tattoos on arms by Andrea Piacquadio

Mary is the founder of All About Our Skin. Former esthetician and CPC. Enjoys researching skincare and has been studying our skin for the past fourteen years.


The listing or mention of an organization, website or product is not meant as an endorsement or promotional purposes of any kind but simply to educate and pass on information.

This website is for informational purposes and not for diagnosis.

If you have a health condition or concern, please consult your doctor.

Researching content:        accessed 07/18/2020    accessed 07/18/2020               accessed 07/18/2020   accessed 07/18/2020

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