South Florida Linked to Contaminated Tattoo Ink

“In the U.S. the (Food and Drug Administration) has the authority to regulate inks, but is not now doing so”, said Dr. Michi Shinohara, a dermatologist at the University of Washington in Seattle who was not involved in the review. Common tattoo ink usually contains organic pigments, but may also be made up of various preservatives and contaminants such as nickel, arsenic, and lead, Luch’s study uncovered.


Unopened inks which were collected during an investigation were found to contain harmful microorganisms, including Mycobacterium chelonae. They are from lot #129, and have a January 2016 expiration date.

Anyone finding inks subject to the recall should put the closed bottles into a plastic bag, sealing or tying off the bag to prevent leakage. Contaminated inks are becoming quite common on the black market and can cause serious long-term health problems. Experts said there is no evidence stating that inks used for tattoo are safe.

Symptoms of infection can include redness, swelling, itching, pain in the tattoo that doesn’t go away or raised blemishes in the tattoo that are pink, red or purple in color. They have been receiving complaints and cases of the bacterial infection among recently tattooed consumers. The infection, depending on the severity, may require treatment using antibiotics, hospitalization or surgery.

If you have these symptoms, seek medical treatment. The contamination may also leave a permanent scar.

Those who are particularly vulnerable to infection are those with pre-existing heart or circulatory disease, diabetes, or patients with compromised immune systems.

Now tattoo inks are classified and regulated as cosmetics, however, according to Luch, cosmetics regulations are designed for topical application only, whereas tattoo inks are injected into living tissue. Anyone who has purchased any of these items, are advised to dispose them properly.


People with infected tattoos and tattoo artists whose clients notify them of potentially infected tattoos can report adverse events or side effects through the MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

Florida DOH: Tattoo Ink Used In Miami-Area Linked To Infection