Published: Thu, September 14, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

Microscopic Particles of Tattoo Ink Can Migrate Into the Body Lymph Nodes

Microscopic Particles of Tattoo Ink Can Migrate Into the Body Lymph Nodes

In this breakthrough, two beamlines (experimental stations) of ESRF have been vital - ID21 and ID16B.

According to Gizmodo, this very mechanism is the sources of the stains observed in the lymph nodes of tattooed individuals.

"When someone wants to get a tattoo, they are often very careful in choosing a parlor where they use sterile needles that haven't been used previously", explains Hiram Castillo, one of the authors of the study and scientist at the ESRF. "No one checks the composition of the chemicals of the colors, but our study shows that may be they should". Most tattoo inks contain organic pigments, but also include preservatives and contaminants like nickel, chromium, manganese or cobalt.

The particles the team studied were titanium dioxide (TiO2), a white pigment that is commonly used to lighten various pigments in tattoo ink.

The fact is that the people have only limited knowledge on the possible impurities present in the color mixture used on the skin. This white pigment is used to create certain shades when mixed with colorants.

This may lead to chronic enlargement of the lymph node and lifelong exposure, the researchers warned.

It also causes itching, skin irritation, and delayed healing.

The findings of the new study were published and detailed in the most recent edition of the journal Scientific Reports.

"We already knew that pigments from tattoos would travel to the lymph nodes because of visual evidence: The lymph nodes become tinted with the colour of the tattoo", study co-author Bernhard Hesse said in a press release. And because the samples were from dead bodies that had been tattooed not immediately before death, the researchers inferred that the nanoparticles had lingered in the lymph nodes for a while.

To identify the nano-particles that made it into the lymph nodes, Castillo-Michel and other researchers at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble subjected the tissue to X-ray fluorescence analysis to identify the foreign particles in the nodes and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy to see any biomolecular changes in the tissue surrounding the tattoo-stained molecules, reports AFP.

When a tattoo is etched on the body, its ink gets deposited via a needle below the skin, where the ink particles remain permanently.

Humans have been permanently decorating our skin with ink for at least 5,000 years, but we still don't really know what effect, if any, they have on our bodies.

However, it was unknown that it had travelled in a nano form, suggesting a behavior different from the particles at a micro level; as the way by which the nanoparticles react is not known, it might be problematic, he added. "What we didn't know is that they do it in a nano form, which implies that they may not have the same behaviour as the particles at a micro level".

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