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Contaminated tattoo ink could be cause of dangerous infection

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Tattoo ink used in some consumer kits could be infected with bacteria, which could lead to serious problems for those people receiving the dye.

White and Blue Lion produced ink which tested positive for bacterial contamination by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Signs of infection from tattoos usually involve redness, swelling and pain at the site of the body decoration. The federal agency is warning consumers that they should immediately seek medical care if any of these symptoms presents itself following the application of a tattoo.

"[The] FDA has confirmed one case of skin infection involving a consumer that used this company's tattoo products, and we are aware of other reports linked to tattoo products with similar packaging," Linda Katz, director of the Office of Cosmetics and Colors at the FDA, said.

White and Blue Lion immediately recalled their potentially-contaminated products upon learning about the findings of the FDA. However, the agency is still concerned that professional tattoo artists and consumers may still have the bottles on-hand, or could be purchasing the products through independent distributors.

"Tattooing poses a risk of infection to anyone, but the risk is particularly high for those with pre-existing heart or circulatory disease, diabetes or compromised immune systems," Katz told the press.

The government agency is asking consumers and body artists to refrain from using any ink with no brand name. Products without the manufacturer and/or distributor should be avoided, the FDA warns, as well as those containing a dragon logo. Any product fitting one of these descriptions should be immediately disposed, according to a consumer update from the agency.

More than 20 percent of all Americans, from every walk of life, have at least one piece of permanent artwork on their bodies. Although usually safe to perform in a professional environment, there are several dangers posed by the process. Even the water used to dilute ink for shading must be sterilized before use. There is also little regulation of the tattoo ink industry.

"Concentrated tattoo inks may be made from products that were never intended to be used for tattoos... such as calligraphy ink, drawing ink, or even printer ink to make the products eventually used for tattooing. These manufacturers often sell their products online, and... there is no regulation or oversight of the product itself," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reported in 2012.

Even temporary tattoos, meant to last between a few days and a couple weeks, have led to problems for those obtaining them. True henna has been used for thousands of years to create temporary body decorations. But, last year, so-called "black henna" was found to lead to reactions when used by some people.

Infections from tattoos can take weeks to set in, according to health officials.

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