Tattoos May Lead to Body’s Overheating

By EJ Mundell
HealthDay reporter

WEDNESDAY, September 30, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Using your body as a backdrop for tattoos can come at a cost to your health.

New research suggests that all of this ink prevents natural sweating – and it could cause the body to overheat.

The study found that tattooed skin on the arms “reduced perspiration rates, and therefore potential heat loss capacity, for [whole-body heating], compared to the adjacent skin without tattoos. “

A dermatologist unrelated to the study said the finding was potentially alarming.

Any decrease in tattoo-related sweating “can have significant ramifications when patients have a fever or illness or are overheated and may have thermoregulatory issues,” said Dr Michele Green, dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. York. She believes that “further studies are needed on this important observation.”

The new research was conducted by Scott Davis of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. As he and his colleagues explained, sweating is the body’s natural response to regulating body temperature. However, any damage to the sweat glands in the skin can impair this response and increase the chances of overheating.

Previous research has shown that tattooed skin has a higher concentration of sodium (salt) in the sweat, which indicates reduced function of the sweat glands. And Davis’s group calculated that the tattooing process required up to 3,000 skin punctures per minute – injuries that could lead to damage to the sweat glands.

In their study, the researchers evaluated the rates of sweating in the upper and lower arms of 10 tattooed people, comparing at least 5.6 square centimeters of tattooed skin to adjacent non-tattooed skin.

To promote full-body sweating, volunteers wore a special suit that circulated hot water above 120 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or more.

The tattooed and non-tattooed areas of skin started to sweat at around the same time in response to the heat, suggesting that nerve signals to the sweat glands are functioning normally in tattooed skin.

However, the tattooed areas always produce less sweat, the researchers found. This suggests that the sweat glands were actually damaged during tattooing, according to the study recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.


While small tattoos are unlikely to interfere with the overall regulation of body temperature, a decrease in tattooed skin sweating “could impact heat dissipation, particularly when the tattoo covers. a higher percentage of body surface area, ”Davis and colleagues said in a press release.

They concluded that the tattoo could interfere with “the function of the sweat glands and could be considered a potential long-term complication or a side effect of this cosmetic procedure.”

For her part, dermatologist Greene said that a possible decrease in body cooling is not the only detrimental effect of tattoos on health. Body ink can also increase the risk of skin infections and “granulomas,” rash-like lesions that can form when the immune system responds to a tattoo.

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SOURCES: Michele S. Green, MD, dermatologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York;Journal of Applied Physiology, press release, September 25, 2020

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