Tattoos: Does ink travel through your body?



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Tattoo ink, Tattoos: Does ink travel through your body?
The body stores tattoo ink in cells and between collagen bundles in the dermis. But some pigment particles go on a longer journey.

What happens when tattoo ink is injected into your skin? Most of it remains firmly lodged there, but some pigments travel to lymph nodes or even destinations in your body that are farther afield. All the while, you are left sporting a new tattoo.

From elaborate designs and sports team badges to the names of loved ones, tattoos come in all shapes and sizes. Their popularity has increased in the past 20 years, with 29 percent of the population of the United States reporting to have at least one tattoo.

But the inks used in tattoos are actually not developed for use in humans.

They are mostly made for other applications, such as the car paint or printing industries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have, in fact, not approved any pigments for tattoos, and skin reactions to tattoos are not uncommon.

Although some tattoo inks are known to contain carcinogens, there is no concrete evidence that the chemicals in tattoo ink can cause cancer.

Solid needles are used to deposit ink into the deep layer of the skin. The body recognizes tattoo pigments as foreign particles and tries to clear them from the skin, but the chemistry of the ink used in tattoos makes this process quite difficult for the body. Hence, most of the color stays in the skin.

But why is it necessary to inject the ink so deeply?