The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) is the world’s leading body on all things skin related. At the recent convention, held in Copenhagen, a wide-ranging discussion was held in regard to the safety of inks used by tattooists. That conversation extended to the pigments used in cosmetic treatments like Scalp MicroPigmentation. The upshot was a demand for standards to be introduced governing the manufacture, distribution and use of pigments.
Scratching the Surface
Of course there are already a wealth of health and safety regulations covering many aspects of tattoo parlours and cosmetic clinics – they cover aspects such as hygiene and sterility. But there are no controls over the quality, including the sterility, of inks and pigments.
In a shocking find by Danish researchers performing research on 58 inks used by tattooists 10% were found to be contaminated with bacteria including staphylococci (associated with skin infections like boils but also with serious infections of the lungs blood and heart), streptococci (associated with mild throat infections but also with life-threatening of the blood or organs) and e-coli (best known for gastroenteritis but does actually kill 90 people a year in the US).
Yet another study pointed to some long term problems associated with inks used in traditional tattooing. carried out recently by the website futurity.net found that six percent of adults in New York who have a tattoo have suffered from long term itching in the tattoo area as a result. In the mildest cases this lasted for a few months, whilst for some the itching continued for several years.
Scalp micropigmentation, or SMP, is a very different procedure to traditional tattoos. The similarity starts and ends with the use of a needle to insert pigment. SMP uses a micro-fine and very short needle to place pigment in the collagen network just beneath the epidermis. This does not mean it is not just as vital that the pigments are pure and sterile, safe for use.
There are no official standards for the pigments used either in tattooing or in SMP, as Dr Christa de Cuyper from Brussels said in the official EADV press release, “We need a positive list of safe pigments and ingredients. Tattoo inks should at least meet the same standards as cosmetic products”
What to look for in a good SMP provider
In the right hands, SMP is a very safe and effective procedure. Ahead of any standards being introduced there are a few key things to look out for when visiting a clinic, here a handful of questions to ask:
- Can I see the practitioner’s credentials? What is their level of training and experience?
- Can I see any testimonials? Is it possible to watch someone being treated? Or at least talk to an ex-client?
- What can they tell you about pigments they use and their safety?
- Is this a clinical environment with appropriate attention paid to hygiene and the use of sterile equipment?
If you have any concerns we are always delighted to hear from you and happy to help. Contact us with any query.