FDA Issues Warning for Tattoo Ink Infections

FDA Issues Warning for Tattoo Ink InfectionsSeptember 18, 2014 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued yet another warning for people who are thinking about getting a tattoo — watch out for bad ink that may be contaminated with bacteria.

Before you get your tattoo, ask to see the ink bottle. Do not get the tattoo if you suspect that the bottle or needles are part of this recall — especially if the bottle does not have a brand name, is missing a name and address of the manufacturer or distributor, or if it is marked with a dragon logo.

The inks are sold in single bottles and also tattoo kits that contain anywhere from 5 to 54 or more different colors of ink. They are available widely on the internet, where they are easily purchased for at-home tattoos or by professional artists. The bottles may or may not have Lot, Batch, Date Produced, or “Best By” dates.

People who get a tattoo with contaminated ink can develop severe tattoo infections. At the very least, the tattoo will be blemished. Severe infections can spread to the bloodstream and cause life-threatening complications. There have even been antibiotic-resistant outbreaks. The FDA warns:

“If you recently got a tattoo, body art or permanent make-up and are experiencing redness, swelling, weeping wounds, blemishes or excessive pain at the site, seek medical care right away.”

The FDA became aware of the problem after testing inks and needles included in tattoo kits marketed by White & Blue Lion, Inc. and 8Decades. The FDA is concerned that similarly-packaged products remain available online and may be marketed by other distributors from the same manufacturer.

The FDA has tested needles and unopened bottles of these inks and found contamination with multiple strains of bacteria, including Bacillus spp., Acinetobacter spp., Staphylococcus haemolyticus, and Sphingomonas paucimobilis.

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