Skip to main content

Trendy Tattoos—Maybe a Serious Health Risk?

Abstract

Background

The literature reports many cases of cutaneous malignancy in the setting of skin tattoos. In this study, we review the reported incidence of and risk factors for tattoo-associated skin cancer.

Methods

A PubMed literature review was performed for all cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, keratoacanthoma, and other rare skin malignancies (source: PubMed/until June 2017).

Results

The authors identified 51 publications and 63 total cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer. We also report on a single new case of tattoo-associated skin cancer observed at one of our co-authors’ institutions. Among these 64 total cases, 58% were associated with black and blue inks and 34% were associated with red ink.

Conclusions

Overall, while the strength of association remains unclear, the literature reports many cases of tattoo-associated skin cancer. Among these cases, black, blue, and red inks were particularly worrisome for their carcinogenic potential.

Level of Evidence IV

This journal requires that authors assign a level of evidence to each article. For a full description of these Evidence-Based Medicine ratings, please refer to the Table of Contents or the online Instructions to Authors www.springer.com/00266.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Laumann AE, Derick AJ (2006) Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: a national data set. J Am Acad Dermatol 55:413–421

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Klugl I, Hiller KA, Landthaler M, Baumler W (2010) Incidence of health problems associated with tattooed skin: a nation-wide survey in German-speaking countries. Dermatology 221:43–50

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Paprottka FJ, Bontikous S, Lohmeyer JA, Hebebrand D (2014) Squamous-cell carcinoma arises in red parts of multicolored tattoo within months. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open 2:e114

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Barton DT, Karagas MR, Samie FH (2015) Eruptive squamous cell carcinomas of the keratoacanthoma type arising in a cosmetic lip tattoo. Dermatol Surg 41:1190–1193

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Fraga GR, Prossick TA (2010) Tattoo-associated keratoacanthomas: a series of 8 patients with 11 keratoacanthomas. J Cutan Pathol 37:85–90

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Joyce CW, Duff G, McKenna D, Regan PJ (2015) Malignant melanoma arising in red tattoo ink. Arch Plast Surg 42:475–477

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  7. Kluger N, Koljonen V (2012) Tattoos, inks, and cancer. Lancet Oncol 13:e161–e168

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Kluger N, Koskenmies S, Jeskanen L, Overmark M, Saksela O (2014) Melanoma on tattoos: two finnish cases. Acta Derm Venereol 94:325–326

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Wenzel SM, Rittmann I, Landthaler M, Baumler W (2013) Adverse reactions after tattooing: review of the literature and comparison to results of a survey. Dermatology 226:138–147

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Kluger N (2010) Cutaneous complications related to permanent decorative tattooing. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 6:363–371

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Nolan KA, Kling M, Birge M et al (2013) Melanoma arising in a tattoo: case report and review of the literature. Cutis 92:227–230

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Korner R, Pfohler C, Vogt T, Muller CS (2013) Histopathology of body art revisited—analysis and discussion of 19 cases. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 11:1073–1080

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Caccavale S, Moscarella E, De Fata Salvatores G et al (2016) When a melanoma is uncovered by a tattoo. Int J Dermatol 55:79–80

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Schmitz I, Prymak O, Epple M, Ernert C, Tannapfel A (2016) Squamous cell carcinoma in association with a red tattoo. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges 14:604–609

    Google Scholar 

  15. Kluger N, Cotten H, Magana C, Pinquier L (2008) Dermatofibroma occurring within a tattoo: report of two cases. J Cutan Pathol 35:696–698

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Mrs. Katharina Weinberger for performing the surgery on the patient, who is presented as new case report within this scientific work.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Felix J. Paprottka.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declared that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Statement

The research project with all its procedures was granted by the local ethical committee (medical association of Lower Saxony, Germany) and is in accordance with national law and the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki (1964) with its ethical principles for medical research involving human subjects and subsequent amendments.

Additional information

Detlev Hebebrand: Senior Author.

Presentation of this work

DGCH Berlin, Germany // 04/2016 // oral presentation.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Paprottka, F.J., Krezdorn, N., Narwan, M. et al. Trendy Tattoos—Maybe a Serious Health Risk?. Aesth Plast Surg 42, 310–321 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-017-1002-0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-017-1002-0

Keywords

  • Tattoo
  • Skin tumour
  • Ink
  • Skin cancer
  • Rare side effect
  • Malignant skin disease