In 2016, a study on the risk of infection following a tattoo found that around 0.5-6% of adults who have had a tattoo develop an infection and complications with the site of wound healing. This may well be significantly underreported, as mild-to-moderate skin infections may result in superficial symptoms, which are easily treated with topical or oral antibiotic therapy (1).
Complications as a result of tattooing arise from (2) the intradermal deposit of detrimental microorganism into the skin. One of the leading sources of these microorganisms has been found to be contained in the ink bottles, even those that have been unopened.
Additional risk of infection may come from the tattoo-facility themselves or poor infection control/hygiene once the individual has left the parlor. Complications can be both local, leading to skin infections such as abscesses or necrotizing fasciitis, or lead to more severe systemic infections such as those affecting the heart muscle or leading to septic shock.
Laser tattoo removal is highly effective and typically regarded as safe as it involves work that is performed on a particular area of skin. However, as a result of the skin resurfacing that takes place during these procedures, there is a risk of infection by various organisms such as bacteria, viruses or fungi.
Additionally, inflammation and the previously tattooed skin may cause scarring or pigment changes, leaving unwanted side effects (3).
With both tattooing and laser therapies being globally growing trends, it is essential to provide people undergoing these procedures with comprehensive information about the potential risks of infection - especially in this area of pandemic proportion infections and rising cases of antibiotic resistant bacteria emerging. Not only does this information encourage individuals to take care of their healing tattoo or laser tattoo removal sites, it may provide them with additional resources on how to care for these areas of their skin in a more appropriate way, with the right types of solutions, applied regularly and consistently.
One of the emerging areas of investigation into tattoo and laser tattoo removal is hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which has been shown to not only provide reduced risk of infection following either procedure, but may decrease the time it takes for the skin to heal.
HYPOCHLOROUS ACID IN TATTOOS AND LASER TATTOO REMOVAL
HOCl has an interesting past. For decades we have known about its action inside the human body, as a compound that is released as a result of a natural immune response. Scientists have tried to replicate it for external use for the longest time, however, have until more recently, not been successful in its recreation.
What we have now is just as good as the compound that the body makes, in an easy-to-use, convenient format, whether in the form of a spray, wipes or gel.
The secret behind HOCl’s power to both fight and prevent infection comes from its natural similarity to the first line of defence that the body uses to fight off invading pathogens. It quite simply mimics what the body would do in this situation, only with the benefit of using it externally.
Having previously been used for the sole purpose of wound care and wound healing in the medical profession such as in clinics, hospitals and in the field of emergency medicine, HOCl is now being made available to the individual. Access has been made available through aesthetic clinics where laser tattoo removal is conducted, as well as in tattoo parlors, and is now even for sale directly to the public.
HOCl makes it easy for technicians and tattoo artists to not only clean and sterilize their equipment, but provide their clientele with one of the most effective and powerful ways to keep the site of their laser tattoo removal or tattoo clean and healing well.
Clients are also able to easily use the solution at home, requiring little mess or fuss to ensure that their procedure sites do not become infected. Because HOCl is completely non-toxic, technicians, therapists, artists and individuals alike can rest assured that they can continue to use HOCl on any body part, for any duration of time, without the risk of side effects. This safety profile is supported by the use of HOCl in eye care and eye infections in clinical practice.
As you can see, previously exclusive clinical use of HOCl now offers a range of unique benefits that are necessary in the body ink world. With this growing global trend tattoo artists, laser removal aestheticians and individuals need a highly effective yet gentle solution that promises to both protect from infection and inflammation after the tattoo procedures, but to ensure that the effort of laser therapy is able to more effectively remove the traces of the previous tattoo without long lasting risks the infection, inflammation, hyperpigmentation or scarring can have.
1. Laux P, Tralau T, Tentschert J, et al. A medical-toxicological view of tattooing. Lancet. 2016;387:395–402.
2. Dieckmann R, Boone I, Brockmann SO, et al. The Risk of Bacterial Infection After Tattooing. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2016;113(40):665-671.
3. Khunger N, Molpariya A, Khunger A. Complications of Tattoos and Tattoo Removal: Stop and Think Before you ink. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2015;8(1):30-36.
4. Gold, M., et al. Hypochlorous acid gel technology—Its impact on postprocedure treatment and scar prevention. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.