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Entries in Tattoos (3)

Thursday
Aug232012

Trail of Ink: Tracking a Rare Tattoo-Related Infection

Monroe County Health Department(NEW YORK) -- The reddish-purple rash, seemingly woven into the tattoo on a 20-year-old New Yorker's forearm, was strange enough to have doctors scratching their heads.

This trail began when the man received a tattoo in Rochester, N.Y. in October 2011.  A short while later, he noticed the raised, bumpy rash.  He called his primary care physician.

Doctors initially treated the man's arm with topical steroids, thinking that the rash was allergic-contact dermatitis.  But that only made the problem worse.

By the time dermatologist Dr. Mark Goldgeier saw the patient, it was clear that this was no simple allergy.  He performed a skin biopsy so he could take a closer look at the rash under a microscope.  What he saw was startling: the sample was riddled with a wormlike bacterium related to tuberculosis.

For the patient, the finding meant a trip to an infectious disease specialist to start up to a full year of treatment.

Goldgeier, meanwhile, called the Monroe County Health Department.

"As soon as biopsy came back," he said, "I knew something in the process of tattooing was involved -- the ink, the water used for dilution, the syringes, the dressings."

And so began a nationwide medical mystery.

An article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how this one dermatologist helped connect the dots in an outbreak of tattoo-related atypical skin infections.

Dr. Byron Kennedy, public health specialist at Monroe County Department of Public Health, took over the case from Goldgeier.  Kennedy first confirmed the results by repeating a skin biopsy on the patient.  Once again, tendrils of mycobacterium chelonae, a type of tuberculosis-related skin bacteria, showed up in the sample.

Mycobacterium chelonae is a rapidly growing bug found in soil, dust, water, animals, hospitals and contaminated pharmaceuticals.  This family of bacteria does not commonly affect healthy individuals, but in patients with suppressed immune systems -- like those with HIV or on chemotherapy -- these bacteria can cause serious disease, often resulting in death.

The finding sent Kennedy and his associates to the tattoo parlor where the patient had been inked.  Everything in the clinic was sterile, which made it unlikely that the infection had arisen there.  But the tattoo artist, they learned, had been using a new gray premixed ink purchased in Arizona in April 2011; he used the ink between May and December 2011.

The ingredients of the ink -- pigment, witch hazel, glycerin, and distilled water -- seemed innocuous enough.  But further examination revealed that the distilled water in the pigment was the likely culprit of the contamination.

The finding raised a number of questions -- not the least of which was how the bottles of premixed ink passed U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged this gap in regulations Wednesday in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

"Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, tattoo inks are considered to be cosmetics, and the pigments used in the inks are color additives requiring premarket approval," the report says.

While the pigments are subject to FDA monitoring, "no specific FDA regulatory requirement explicitly provides that tattoo inks must be sterile," they said.

Local jurisdictions can further regulate the practice of tattooing, with Los Angeles County cited by the CDC as an area where only sterile water is allowed for use with tattoo ink.  This is not, however, uniform around the country.

In a perspective article published Wednesday in the New England Journal, Pamela LeBlanc of the FDA comments on this.

"Even if a person receives a tattoo at a tattoo parlor that maintains the highest standards of hygienic practice, there remains a risk of infection from the use of contaminated ink," she writes.

Kennedy had found the source of infection in this patient's case.  Now, he and his colleagues focused on both treatment as well as source control.

"To make sure we weren't missing any cases, we contacted all 60 tattoo parlors in the county," Kennedy said.  Luckily, none of the other parlors had been in contact with the contaminated ink.  

Kennedy then instructed nearby pathology labs to notify the county health department of any reported cases of this same infection.  Due to these combined efforts, 19 cases of this atypical and difficult-to-treat skin infection were identified and treated, all from the same tattoo parlor.  Kennedy and his team then turned the case over to the FDA.

And it was not a day too soon.  CDC testing revealed that one out of three unopened bottles of the gray ink from the original distributor in Arizona contained mycobacterium chelonae.  The CDC then issued a national alert for local health officials to be on the lookout for tattoo-related infections caused by this bacteria.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb282012

Do Tattoos Make a Person Look Sexy?

Robert Ginn/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thirty percent of people with a tattoo say the ink makes them feel sexier, but 45 percent of those without the permanent body art disagree, saying it makes those individuals less attractive.  The findings come from a new Harris Poll that shows one in five U.S. adults have at least one tattoo.

Among those with a tattoo, 86 percent have never regretted getting one.  One-quarter say having a tattoo makes them feel rebellious, and 21 percent say the ink makes them feel attractive or strong.  Sixteen percent of those with a tattoo say it makes them feel spiritual, and nine percent say it makes them feel healthier.

One-quarter of people without tattoos say those with ink are less intelligent and not as healthy.  Twenty-four percent of all adults say people with tattoos are more likely to do something deviant.

Tattoos are most prevalent in the West, with 26 percent of adults in that region reporting having at least one compared to 21 percent of adults both in the East and in the Midwest.  The South had the lowest percentage of people with tattoos, with 18 percent.

Eight-four percent of U.S. adults say young people should be between 18 and 21 years of age before they are able to get a tattoo without parental permission.

When it comes to other forms of body art, 49 percent of U.S. adults report having pierced ears.  Seven percent report having a piercing elsewhere on their body and four percent say they have a facial piercing not on the ear.

The Harris Poll involved 2,016 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Health Officials Investigating Temporary Tattoo Additive

Digital Vision/Photodisc(MINNEAPOLIS) -- They’re a hit with children and common at birthday parties, carnivals, and summer fairs. But now the Minnesota Department of Health says that an additive found in some temporary tattoos could put children at risk.

Of particular concern is the additive para-phenylenediamine (PPD), an agent used in ink known as “black henna.” Though it’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hair dye, PPD has not been approved for direct application to the skin and has been known to trigger allergic reactions including intense itching, blistering and even permanent scarring in some cases.

Minnesota health officials say they’re investigating the potentially harmful effects of temporary tattoos after about half of a group of 35 Twin Cities-area eighth graders reported skin reactions.

“In most cases, the lesions appeared within 20 days of getting the tattoo, and half occurred within 7 days,” the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday in announcing the warning.

“The children were treated with creams, including steroid containing creams, and three children were given oral antibiotics. Although the material used for the tattoos was described as black in color, MDH has not determined as yet whether it contained PPD or other additives,” officials said, adding that the case “underscores the need for caution before getting a henna tattoo.”

Pure henna has not been approved by the FDA, but is commonly used to create temporary tattoos.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

They’re a hit with children and common at birthday parties, carnivals and summer fairs. But now the Minnesota Department of Health says that an additive found in some temporary tattoos could put children at risk.

 

Of particular concern is the additive para-phenylenediamine (PPD), an agent used in ink known as “black henna.” Though it’s been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in hair dye, PPD has not been approved for direct application to the skin and has been known to trigger allergic reactions including intense itching, blistering and even permanent scarring in some cases.

 

Minnesota health officials say they’re investigating the potentially harmful effects of temporary tattoos after about half of a group of 35 Twin Cities-area eighth graders reported skin reactions.

 

“In most cases, the lesions appeared within 20 days of getting the tattoo, and half occurred within 7 days,” the Minnesota Health Department said Thursday in announcing the warning.

“The children were treated with creams, including steroid containing creams, and three children were given oral antibiotics. Although the material used for the tattoos was described as black in color, MDH has not determined as yet whether it contained PPD or other additives,” officials said, adding that the case “underscores the need for caution before getting a henna tattoo.”

Pure henna has not been approved by the FDA, but is commonly used to create temporary tattoos.







ABC News Radio