August 8, 2014 in Nation/World

Tainted tattoo ink prompts FDA warning

Mary Clare Jalonick Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Thinking about getting inked? Check the bottle first.

The Food and Drug Administration is warning tattoo parlors, their customers and those buying at-home tattoo kits that not all tattoo ink is safe.

Last month, California company White and Blue Lion Inc. recalled inks in in-home tattoo kits after testing confirmed bacterial contamination in unopened bottles.

At least one skin infection has been linked to the company’s products, and FDA officials say they are aware of other reports of infections linked to tattoo inks with similar packaging.

Infections from tattooing are nothing new. Hepatitis, staph infections and even the superbug known as MRSA have been tied to tattoos. Dirty needles and unsanitary environments are often to blame.

But people getting tattoos can get infections in the skin even in the cleanest conditions. The ink can carry bacteria that can spread through the bloodstream – a process known as sepsis. Symptoms are fever, shaking chills and sweats, and the risk is particularly high for anyone with pre-existing heart or circulatory conditions. Less severe infections may involve bumps on the skin, discharge, redness, swelling, blisters or excessive pain at the site.

In general, the FDA says those looking to get tattoos should always ensure that the ink has a brand name and a location of the business that manufactured it.

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