Allergic hazard: The metal particles of tattoo needles were first discovered in the skin 2

Allergic hazard: The metal particles of tattoo needles were first discovered in the skin

08/27/2019 07:40 AM

Allergic hazard: The metal particles of tattoo needles were first discovered in the skin

Particles containing nickel and chromium also migrate to the lymph nodes

From tattoo needles, metal and metal nanoparticles can be deposited in the skin and lymph nodes. This conclusion is reached by researchers from the Federal Bureau of Risk Assessment (BfR) and the international collaboration team. The tattoo needles are made of steel and contain nickel (6-8%) and chrome (15-20%). The research team has now shown that metal particles can be recovered from the needle during use and mixed into the skin if the tattooing agent contains white titanium pigment (TiO2). Nickel and chromium are mechanically released from the needle and into the skin. Thereafter, these particles can migrate to the lymph nodes. Until now, it was believed that color pigments (tattooing agents) mainly contaminated with nickel and chromium cause allergies to tattooing associated with metals. With this new study, researchers are now providing evidence that even tattoo needles pose a health risk. In addition, the load on the body increases with nickel and chrome. Future studies will explore how the additional intake of these metals increases the likelihood of triggering allergies.

Study Link:

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Allergic reactions to tattoos and their ingredients are among the most common side effects of tattooing. Based on the results of the study, scientists have speculated that colored pigments contaminated with heavy metals specifically trigger these allergies. Although tattoo needles contain nickel and chromium, their effect on the deposition of metals in the skin has not yet been studied.

An international team led by BfR has now closed this research gap. The researchers first analyzed human skin and lymph node samples using synchrotron-based nanoradiological fluorescence (XRF). They came from tattooed donors without any known health flaws. The results of these samples were compared with the skin and lymph node data of a tattooed allergic patient.

In the second part of the study, the research team tattooed pig skin on one side with black (carbon-based) ink and on the other with TiO2 ink, the latter having abrasive properties. Both colors were tested previously and found to be free of steel particles.

The results of both analyzes show that nano- and micrometer-sized metal particles are removed from the tattoo needles when using TiO2-containing ink. This effect was much lower for black ink. The metallic particles contain nickel and chromium, permanently precipitate in tattooed skin and partially transfer to lymph nodes. In the analyzed samples of a patient suffering from an allergic reaction, a team of researchers discovered colored pigments (iron oxide) and abraded steel particles in inflamed skin. The results show that the use of tattoo needles, nickel and other heavy metals can enter the body and trigger allergic reactions.

Additional research is needed to evaluate the exact effect of abraded tattoo needle particles on skin tattoo allergies.

About BfR

The Federal Bureau of Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution in the business area of ​​the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). Advises the federal government and states on food, chemical and product safety issues. BfR conducts its own research on topics closely related to its evaluation tasks.

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Journalists, scientists, anyone
Chemistry, Nutrition / Health / Nursing
Research / knowledge transfer, research results