Tattoos are a part of many cultures and en vogue these days. But, what are the potential risks for Lupus Warriors?
Tattoos are a permanent image on the skin formed by injecting and embedding tiny particles of pigment into it. These particles are suspended in the space between the outside of the skin (the epidermis) and the inner layer of the skin (the dermis).
Deriving from the ancient Tahitian practice of Tatu, modern pigments can come in a variety of colors. When done by a qualified tattoo artist, they can commemorate a treasured moment, special person, a culturally significant moment, or be a decoration that makes you happy.
The Role of the Immune System
The body’s immune system is actually a huge part of how tattoos work. White blood cells attempt to ‘eat’ the ink particles and remove them. However, the particles are too big to remove completely. So the white blood cells (also known as macrophages) end up ‘locking’ the ink in place.
This immune response activates the immune system, and some studies say that it actually exercises the immune system in a good way, helping the body protect itself more effectively. However, inflammation in the body is also the root of many of the complications of tattooing, including:
- Allergic reaction to the tattoo dyes
- Burning or swelling at the tattoo site
- Scaling and other symptoms of skin inflammation
Tattoo ink can also clog up lymph nodes with ink particles and many can be toxic. The tattoo process itself can also put one at risk for infection at the site (due to the breaking of the skin by the tattoo needle) and blood-borne infection. A reputable tattoo artist who follows proper hygiene protocols can minimize these particular risks.
Still, any risk of infection – or of inflammation – can be problematic for people with lupus: Not only are they more vulnerable to infection, but inflammation can increase their symptoms or even cause a flare.
You can read about skin symptoms of lupus, here.