Tattoo Safety: What to Know Before Getting Inked

The risks of getting tattoos and what can be done to remove them.

The risks of getting tattoos and what can be done to remove them.
By + More

Can an X-ray affect my tattoo?

A regular X-ray will not damage your tattoo. A type of imaging called magnetic resonance imaging heats up some of the components of tattoo ink. This may result in a skin burn. Burning can be prevented if a cold, wet cloth is placed over the tattoo before the MRI is performed. However, it's possible for the tattoo to affect the MRI image.

One final piece of advice:

Think carefully before getting a tattoo. Never get a tattoo if you are drinking or doing drugs. What seemed like a good idea the night before may be regretted in the morning.

The history of tattoos:

• Tattoos date back 5,200 years. Early tattoos were made by cutting the skin and rubbing powdered charcoal in the wound.

• Scientists believe tattoos may have been an early form of medical treatment.

• Tattoos have been found on female Egyptian mummies. Ancient Egyptians believe tattoos prevented difficult pregnancies and births.

• In the 10th and 11th centuries, crusaders had tattoos of crosses. If killed, that person would receive a Christian burial.

• Tattoos have been used to mark slaves and criminals.

• In many tribal communities, facial tattoos indicated a person's status and accomplishments.

• In the 5th century, the Japanese developed tattoos into a fine art with intricate designs and colors.

• In 19th and 20th century America, tattoos were mostly associated with sailors, fringe cultures, prisoners and gangs.

• Tattoos are now regarded as body art that has a special meaning to the individual.

• Some women use tattoos as permanent makeup (e.g. eyeliner).

Note: This article was originally published on Aug. 5, 2013 on It has been edited and republished by U.S. News. The original article with references can be found here.