- The complete guide to tattoos
- Types of tattoos
- Possible health risks when getting a permanent tattoo
- Answers to frequently asked medical questions about tattoos
- Getting a tattoo – The who, what and how of getting that ink
- Signs and symptoms of tattoo infection (and what to do about it)
- Tattoo removal
Thinking of getting a tattoo?
To tattoo or not to tattoo... if that's your question you've come to the right place to find all the information you need to consider before you go ahead with this form of body modification. The fact that you're researching this before going ahead is a good sign that you'll end up making an informed decision and end up loving your ink forever.
In this article we cover everything from the history of tattoos (because really it's quite fascinating) to the types of tattoos you may consider as well as the possible health risks you face and how to avoid them. We also bring you information on how to properly care for a new tattoo, the signs that your tattoo is infected (don't worry this is not too common if you follow our guidelines on choosing a hygienic place to have yours done) and what to do about it if is. Finally we investigate tattoo removal methods and their side effects. So let's get started...
The history, art and reality of tattoos
The art of tattooing has been around for thousands of years. The earliest human remains that date to just over 5000 years old1 have been found to have markings that could be considered tattoos, but it's not yet certain in what context these tattoos were used.
Others have been found by archaeologists in Egyptian tombs, including the addition of tomb art depicting the inhabitants sporting tattoos on their bodies.
Throughout history, tattooing has been used in many different contexts. Both Greeks and Romans used tattoos as a form of marking the ownership of slaves, while the Han Dynasty in China tattooed criminals permanently.
In Japan, men used tattooing as an art form to depict their culture across their bodies and the same can be found in Polynesian Māori where warriors have always marked their faces and bodies.
In various cultures, tattoos have been used to mark times of mourning, sexual maturity, and simply as forms of art.
Over latter part of the past century tattoos have evolved from being the preserve of sailors, prisoners, rebellious kids and edgy bikers with a chip on their shoulder to being an acceptable part of mainstream culture. Their popularity has increased considerably in recent years thanks social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. A study in 20122 found that the number of Americans with more than one tattoo had grown from 14% in 2008 to a whopping 21% in 2012!
Six years on, all you have to do is look around and you’ll find that tattoos are almost everywhere and on people from all walks of life. From the young professional to the young-at-heart grandmother, even your local librarian may now be sporting a touch of 'ink'.
While to a much lesser extent than in bygone eras, tattoos are still a topic of debate in some circles. Many religions don't condone scarring the body in this way while others have integrated them into their religious doctrines for centuries.
Religion aside, tattoos have become a form of self-expression for many, a way to adorn the canvas they reside in. Some use tattooing as an artistic way to document their life stories or simply to capture a person or moment that has defined or means a lot to them.
There are many reasons to get a tattoo and also many to not do so. No matter what you choose, research must be conducted before finally taking the plunge, while tattoos may not be forever anymore thanks to lasers, they’re still a huge commitment and one, that even if removed, will still leave a mark on your body forever.
1. American Psychological Association. 1983. Psychodynamic implications of tattoos: http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-42268-011 [Accessed 25 September 2018]
2. Scientific Research: Journal of Environmental Protection. 2013. One in five U.S. adults now has a tattoo: http://www.scirp.org/(S(lz5mqp453edsnp55rrgjct55))/reference/ReferencesPapers.aspx?ReferenceID=2132373 [Accessed 25 September 2018]
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