An Australian woman’s bad reaction to a 15-year-old tattoo is now serving as a reminder to keep an eye on old ink.
When the woman noticed sore lumps in her armpits, the 30-year-old and her medical team initially thought lymphoma cancer was to blame. But after performing a biopsy on some of the tissue, doctors at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney determined that the swelling was being caused by an immune system reaction to the tattoo ink. In other words, her tattoo was to blame for a terrible, cancer-imitating infection.
Phew, but also, WHAT?! Sure, the tattoo still looks great, but yikes! Those are some delayed effects.
“We concluded that the diagnosis was granulomatous lymphadenitis, which was probably a hypersensitivity reaction to tattoo pigment,” the doctors wrote in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
This type of immune system reaction to tattoos has been documented before. As the lymph nodes help rid the body of toxins, tattoo ink can sometimes get absorbed into the body and get lodged there, causing infection and even changing the colour of the tissue. But this is the first time effects have been documented after such an extended period of time.
And with tattoos as popular as ever, it’s important to keep an eye out for bad reactions.
If you’ve got tattoos and swollen lymph nodes, you might want to bring this news to your doctor. And if you’re considering getting that cute tattoo on the back of your arm, make sure you go to a clean place and ask your artist about the inks they use first. You don’t want to end up regretting it a few years down the road.