Microbiological evaluation of open and sealed tattoo inks
Background. Introduction of tattoo inks in the skin has been associated with a potential entry of a great number of microorganisms including bacteria, virus and fungi. Contaminated pigments, diluents and instruments represent primary infection risk factors as well as inadequacy of hygienic measures during this practice. However, the evaluation of the infectious risk for public health due to tattoo ink use is actually not feasible cause of the low efficiency of health surveillance and the lack of specific regulation in this area.
Materials and Methods. A survey was carried out to test the microbial product safety of some tattoo inks available in Italian tattoo parlours. Physical packaging and labelling of the collected inks were also examined. Newly acquired sealed stock bottles, open ink bottles and tattoo-correlated instruments (needles, spikes and grips) were collected and tested for different microbiological parameters.
Results. Both from opened and sealed inks a variety of potentially pathogenic organisms were isolated and identified including Gram positive rods and cocci, Gram negative bacteria and fungi. Different species of Bacillus and Staphylococcus genera were identified, among which S. haemolyticus; Cronobacter sakazaki, Enterobacter intermedius and Sphingomonas paucimobilis were also identified while no atypical mycobacteria were isolated. Needles, spikes and grips tested for sterility were aseptic.
Conclusions. Microbial contamination of opened samples suggest inefficacy of preservatives and additives in maintaining inks hygienic quality, and inadequacy of hygienic procedures during the tattooing operations, while the occurrence of microorganisms in unopened samples put in doubt the effectiveness of the sterilization technology applied to this type of product.
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Copyright (c) 2014 Lucia Bonadonna, Rossella Briancesco, Anna Maria Coccia, Aurelia Fonda, Giuseppina La Rosa, Pierluigi Meloni, Rosa Paradiso, Stefania Paduano, Maurizio Semproni
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