Tattooing, Piercing, and Scarification Have Gone Mainstream. What Does That Mean for Pediatricians?

October 2, 2017 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Body modification—such as tattooing, piercing, or scarification—is no longer a phenomenon limited to high-risk populations, but the potential for associated medical complications remain, according to the first clinical report on the subject issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). In 2010, the report said, 38% of Americans age 18 to 29 had at least one tattoo. Most of these tattoos (72%) were not visible when the person was wearing clothing. The rate of medical complications from tattooing is unknown, the report said, but considering how rare medical complaints about tattoos are compared with their prevalence, the rate is likely low. Potential complications include inflammation, infections, allergic reaction, neoplasms, and in rare cases, vasculitis. Systemic viral infections from pathogens such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV are also possible. There have also been cases of patients acquiring nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infection after receiving tattoos, the article said. The report describes different forms of tattooing, including permanent makeup and red and black henna temporary tattoos.

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