Tattoos are fuckin' rad. I think we all can agree on that. If you don't agree, what the hell are you doing on a website dedicated to the radness of tattoos? Doesn't make much sense.
But with how rad tattoos are, they also come with a bit of risk. If you go to a poorly trained artist, you could get some gnarly-looking ink, and if they aren't up to snuff on health protocol, it could lead to many complications that may result in death. Obviously no one wants that, but that's the reality of mishandling tattoo needles and the like. Getting a tattoo really is like surgery — your skin is being opened by a needle, and your skin is what keeps bad stuff out of your tender, meaty insides. Clean conditions and a sterile set of materials are key.
One interesting concern that has been raised by health professionals regarding tattoos is the fact that tattoos may hinder the recognition of warning signs of skin cancer.
A large part of diagnosing skin cancer is the coloration of potentially dangerous moles. Doctors look at the skin in order to see problems, and if the skin is covered in body art, it can make their jobs a lot harder. Skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, but it's because doctors are able to diagnose it early. If they can't diagnose it early, it can be deadly.
So how can you ensure you are safe from skin cancer if you want to get tattoos?
"If you do tattoo, consider avoiding inking over an actual mole or immediately surrounding it, especially if you fall into a higher risk category for developing melanoma," says dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse. "Don't ink over the scar of a previously removed atypical nevus [mole] or melanoma, because it makes it more difficult to monitor the skin for any recurrent pigment."
If you have a particularly knowledgable tattoo artist who is well-versed in the signs of skin cancer, that artist can also identify potential problems.
Dr. Shainhouse explained to How Stuff Works, "Tattoo artists are at the forefront, since they see skin all day. Tattoo artists can be very helpful in finding/pointing out irregular skin lesions that might be skin cancer or melanoma and advising patients to have them checked out before tattooing over them."
Regardless of whether you are a fan of tattoos or not, it's important to get tested and examined for skin cancer regularly, especially if you have fair skin and are prone to sunburns. Detection is the first step in treatment, and it's never too early to detect a deadly form of cancer.