Before You Get That Tattoo

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The risks of getting a tattoo

All eyes are on the speaker as he heads to the podium. A few steps and he takes the microphone to the increasing applause in the large hall.  The students’ eyes are lit with admiration, wonder, and awe. This man is a professional in his field. His accomplishments are legendary. Obviously, his reputation precedes him. As he starts to speak, he gesticulates with his left arm. The folded sleeve of the shirt reveals artistic patterns and markings on the skin. They are tattoos. One of the teachers is frowning. She leans towards her colleague and whispers: “Can you see his tattoos? He is supposed to be a role model, for crying out loud! What kind of example is he setting for these students who look up to him?”

The above is a fictitious scenario of a seminar organized by a school. The speaker is an outstanding scholar who has been invited to speak to the students. What would be your reaction if you were in that auditorium? Should the teacher’s concerns be waved aside? The gentleman’s tattoos, after all, shouldn’t be a cause for worries. Or should they?

We live in a world that is characterized by ever-changing trends. Something could be in vogue today and be considered archaic tomorrow. As its citizens, we are left with no choice but to go with the flow or be left behind.

Tattoos have become so trendy that one out of every twelve persons in the United States has them. A few years ago, they were frowned upon in our country. Now, almost every celebrity spots a tattoo.

In the music industry, it is almost unusual to see an artist without a tattoo. Hip hop musicians wear them proudly as a sort of identification with their genre. Why the fuss about tattoos? Does it matter whether or not an individual has them? What significance do they hold? For those who have or are considering getting a tattoo, here is a little bit of information you need to know about them.

Wikipedia defines a tattoo as a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes, and pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.

Tattoos have been in existence as far back as the days when our ancestors started the process of recording history. They can be used for decorative purposes, identification, symbolism, etc. They are in two categories; temporary and permanent.

Tattoos are part of the culture of the Samoans, Polynesians, the Koita people of Papua New Guinea and the Kalinga in the Philippines.  In the course of history, people have been forcibly tattooed. A good example is the Nazis, who did this to the inmates in the concentration camps. This was during the Holocaust in 1941.

In some places like Nigeria, some animals are tattooed for the purpose of easy identification and as a mark of ownership.

Some people even go as far as using tattoos as a form of covering for the body. In this case, the tattoos are drawn in the shape of clothes over the skin and could be mistakenly overlooked as skin-tight fabric. The removal of tattoos is done via laser treatment.

Since they involve piercing and insertion of a foreign substance into the skin, are tattoos safe? Are there health risks involved?

In 2017, researchers said that the chemicals in tattoo ink can travel in the bloodstream and accumulate in the lymph nodes, obstructing their ability to fight infections. Unsterilized tattoo equipment can result in some form of herpes, simplex virus, hepatitis, HIV, staph, and tuberculosis. Allergic reactions are another health risk.

So, what kinds of people can get tattoos? The fact is anyone can. But does that mean that anyone should? This is a question worth pondering as those who intend to get tattoos should weigh its benefits and risks. They should decide for themselves whether the tattoo trend is worth going into.

Sydney Elike
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