Nasty Tattoo Infection Linked to Bizarre Cause

Health Check 35

tattoo infectionI hate when I hear about some new and horrible way of contracting some new and horrible disease or infection or parasite. Like the time a friend of mine told me how her son got scabies from a sandbox. A sandbox! You're not supposed to get scabies from a sandbox!

I had the same reaction when I heard about the recent outbreak of a rare infection ... caused by tainted tattoo ink. Tattoo ink! You're not supposed to get a rare infection from dirty tattoo ink! (Dirty tattoo needles, possibly.) But it can happen: At least 40 people in 4 different states developed red, bubbly rashes after getting new designs with one thing in common -- the same brand of tattoo ink.

As it turned out, the distilled water used to dilute the ink contained the rare bacteria Mycobacterium chelonae, a relative of the tuberculosis bug which lives in soil and water. Gross!

This is no easy-to-treat rash, either. Some patients have to take antibiotics for as long as 4 months before the angry red bumps go away; others end up needing to have the entire area surgically removed. Yikes. No wonder the CDC issued an alert.

This is disturbing news to me on more than one level. First, I have tattoos and will probably get more at some point -- how do I know whether or not the ink used is bug-free? And second, does this mean we need to worry about distilled water? Not that I can think of a reason I would need to use distilled water off the top of my head, but even so.

For now, the only advice available is to go straight to the doctor if you develop a rash like this after getting a tattoo, because you WILL need treatment (possibly quite a lot of treatment).

See, I hate when I hear about some new and horrible way of contracting some new and horrible disease or infection or parasite.

Have you ever heard of an infection from tattoo ink?


Image via Monroe County Department of Public Health



To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Rachel

I haven't heard of infections, but it's not uncommon for people to have allergic reactions to red tattoo ink. This is truly unfortunate though. I feel bad for the victims. I hope that, at the very least, their tattoos aren't ruined.

curio... curious1145

Rachel,who cares if their tattoos are ruined? That should not even be of concern. The only important thing is getting rid of this nasty infection which was totally preventable in the first place. Don't get tattoos! It escapes me how anyone rational (or not) has themselves unnecessarily stuck with needles and injected with ink to put permanent drawings on their body that will look ridiculous when they're older if they don't already. If you ask me,anyone who does this is asking for trouble and shouldn't be shocked when something like this happens. Just my opinion.

nonmember avatar Guest

A little uppity and Puritanical of you, Curious, don't you think?

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

Well hopefully this was all an honest mistake and these people werent going to shitty ink slingers and paying for cheap, junky tattoos. Always. Do. Your. Research!

jasmi... jasmineg86

some of the cases were centered where i live. from what i understand,  the problem was distilled water was SUPPOSED to be used- but instead filtered tap water was used.

Heath... HeatherMazzone

Curious, I have tattoo's and I am not "looking for trouble". Don't judge me because I'm into something you're not, and I won't judge you because you're an uppity bitch. K?

nonmember avatar Christie

The brand name of the ink woul dbe helpful, I don't see it in the linked article. Does anyone know the brand name? I want a tattoo soon but not now and not without knowing what brand I need to avoid now.

Heather Duso Johnson

I'm using a tattoo as a reward for losing weight, though I need to get back working on it.  Anyhow yeah I have a library degree and was a legal secretary before we moved, so definetly the looking for trouble type person.  Oh and I just signed up to teach Sunday School at the church I recently joined.  Yep I'm evil.

Autumn Scott

Its people like you with your narrow minded snobby comments that make it harder for people like me. I have tattoos, I have a great job, my  own place, and I don't live off the government. No foodstaamps, no welfare, no medicaid. I work my ass off for what I have and when I have extra money I spend it on my tattoos. I haven't asked for trouble a single day in my life, not saying I haven't gotten into it just that I didn't look for it. I honestly hope that your  children eventually become covered in tattoos or become artists themselves and make more money than you ever did. Sorry for being spiteful but I am sick and tired of people judging people because of teir tattoos. I don't do drugs and I don't drink so I honestly believe I have a lot more going for me than most.

cocob... cocobeannns

Whaaat! I am going to have to tell my fiance about this story! He got a tattoo not that long ago, where red ink was used. I thought maybe he just had some kind of allergic reaction to the red ink, although he has other tattoos and he never had any kind of reaction like this to them. After about a week of getting it, the skin started bubbling up and oozing, and it just looked disgusting! We both have tattoos, and I have never seen anything like that before! I kept telling him, something just isn't right babe! CRAZY.

1-10 of 35 comments 1234 Last