Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tattoos can cause serious adverse reactions

 Getting inked may have long-term consequences beyond just having to live with your ex-girlfriend’s name on your bicep for decades.

About 1 in 10 people who get tattoos experiences problems with the tattoo, including infection, itching, swelling and redness, according to a small study in the June issue of the journal Contact Dermatitis. Many people in the study had complications that lingered for years after the tattoo was inked, the researchers said.

“I’m not anti-tattoo at all; I happen to think tattoos are beautiful,” said study co-author Dr. Marie Leger, a dermatologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. But people should know that “there are certain risks,” Leger added.

Anecdotal reports

Leger began noticing that a surprising number of patients were coming into her clinic because of issues with their tattoos. She began to wonder how common these issues were, and after chatting with friends and colleagues, she realized they also had stories about tattoo-related complications.

To understand how common these complications were, Leger and her colleagues randomly chose about 300 tattooed people in New York’s Central Park and asked them whether they’d had any problems with their tattoos.

About 10 percent of the people said they’d had some complications. For some, these complications were short-lived, such as bacterial infection right after the tattoo was inked, or temporary swelling and itching.

But of those who had complaints, six in 10 suffered from chronic problems. And although many had suffered from unpleasant itching or swelling for years, few had bothered to get their problems checked by a doctor, the researchers found.

Unregulated ink

Although tattoo artists and parlors are strictly regulated in order to limit infection and disease transmission risk, few people know what is in the tattoo ink itself.

“Tattoo inks aren’t very closely regulated in the United States,” Leger told Live Science.

Some studies in Europe suggest that black ink often contains carbon-based pigments, whereas red dyes may contain “azo-based hues,” which contain nitrogen compounds. Some early research hints that these inks can cause different types of reactions, Leger said.

The cause of tattoo problems isn’t clear in all cases, though there are clues for some.

“Some of the stories we got do definitely sound like tattoo allergy,” Leger said. “They’ll have a red tattoo, and then a few years later, they will get a new tattoo — and, all of a sudden, the new red and the old red tattoo become itchy and raised.”

Managing risk

Most people who get tattoos are already willing to face some risk, Leger said. After all, everyone who gets a permanent body modification faces the risk that it will turn out ugly, fade in the sun or simply not accurately reflect their personality as they age.

“I don’t think anyone gets a tattoo because it’s totally safe; I think people do it because it’s culturally a little bit rebellious,” Leger said.

But beyond the well-known risks, people should also recognize the chance that there will be physical complications, Leger said.

It’s also important that people who experience these symptoms see a doctor, Leger said. Doctors may prescribe topical ointments for itchiness, or oral steroids for more serious flare-ups. In some cases, removing the tattoo may be the best option, Leger added.

If people choose to have their tattoos removed, they should go to someone experienced in the removal process, Leger said.

“There have been case reports of tattoo removal in certain kinds of ways that can cause anaphylactic reactions,” Leger said, referring to the deadly allergic reaction that involves the closing of the throat and a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Dairy Really Cause Acne?

Acne sucks. But for a condition that affects so many people, there are still a lot of unknowns with it. One of the most controversial: Can what you eat or drink cause you to break out?

Dairy has been one of the most commonly discussed culprits in whether your diet can be to blame. But whether your love of cheese is directly causing your outbreak is still up for debate, as there are plenty of myths about what causes zits.

A growing volume of research suggests the link is there, though. That’s because acne is an inflammatory condition, says board-certified dermatologist, Joshua Zeichner, M.D, director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital. Oil gets trapped inside your pores, clogging them up. This allows bacteria to grow within the follicles, which causes inflammation. That inflammation produces the red bumps on your skin.

Cow’s milk can cause inflammation, too, Dr. Zeichner says. The hormones in milk can react with the testosterone in your own body. This increases the production of sebum in your skin, the oily substance that clogs your pores.

It’s a bit of double whammy: Not only does the bacteria living in your pores cause inflammation, but what you ingest, like milk, can also promote inflammation, making your skin even worse. Plus, milk proteins like whey and casein may also be to blame, though the exact process behind what’s causing it isn’t yet known, says Whitney Bowe, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City.

That’s why whole milk might be the better choice than skim for your skin: Proteins like whey and casein are often added to skim milk to make it taste less watery, says Dr. Bowe. But both whey and casein release a hormone similar to insulin called IGF-1, which is known to trigger breakouts. In fact, research has shown that bodybuilders and athletes who use whey supplements like shakes and protein bars can suffer from severe acne, she says. (In fact, your workout can actually cause a bunch of annoying skin issues.)

But putting all dairy in this pimple-causing category might be a mistake: Milk and ice cream have been associated with acne, but yogurt and cheese don’t seem to have the same type of effect, says Dr. Bowe. In fact, the probiotics in yogurt can actually help control your breakouts, she says. Researchers aren’t sure as to why that may be, but probiotics are known to calm inflammation, she says, and the fermentation process results in lower levels of IGF-1 than what you would find in milk.

As for cheese, that’s still a mystery, Dr. Bowe says. Hard cheeses do have less lactose than milk does—making them a better choice for people with trouble digesting dairy—but there’s no evidence to suggest that lactose content plays a role in breakouts. More research needs to be done to determine why cheese seems safer.

Regardless, if you consistently break out after you eat dairy-heavy foods, it might be worth cutting dairy from your diet to see how your skin reacts. Sometimes it takes a month or longer to see any kind of impact on your skin, Dr. Bowe says.

If it’s too difficult to completely cut all dairy right off the bat, you can try a more gradual approach. Start by substituting your go-to milk with almond or soymilk. Then, if the breakouts persist after a few months, you can try cutting out cheese to see if it makes more of a difference.

Still, it’s likely that a diet change isn’t going to be the final solution for you, Dr. Bowe adds. Removing dairy from your diet usually isn’t enough to cure your acne on its own—though it may help reduce your breakouts. However, lots of other factors could be at play, like genetics, your skin-type, stress, sleep, and your skincare habits.

So if your breakouts are frequent and consistent, you need to bring in the tried-and-true acne treatments, too. Using cleansers or creams with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid while you’re making your diet change is your best bet for clearer, smoother, skin, says Dr. Zeichner. If you’re dealing with oily, clogged pores, these products are a great place to start.

Woman Contracts HIV Shared by Manicure Equipment

  A 22-year-old Brazilian woman was infected with HIV after sharing manicure tools with her cousin, in a rare case of disease transmission, reported Counsel & Heal.

The case is described in a report published in the online journal AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses. The infection was discovered when the woman volunteered for blood donation and tested HIV positive. Blood work showed her condition was normal, but that she had a high viral load, indicating that she had a long-standing infection.

The woman denied all classical transmission routes, including intercourse and needle sharing, and her mother also tested negative. The women both reported sharing manicure equipment with a cousin 10 years ago. At the time, the cousin was unaware of her infection status but later tested positive for HIV.

After analyzing samples from the woman and her cousin, researchers found that the viral genetic material in both women was highly related, indicating the possibility that HIV was transmitted by the manicure instruments.

Manicure utensils are not part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of mechanisms by which HIV spreads.

“HIV is not transmitted by casual contact, such as sharing eating utensils, or drinking from the same water glass. This transmission of HIV by shared manicure equipment is a very rare event that should serve not to make people fear HIV or contact with HIV-infected people,” study authors said in a press release.

Study authors noted that the case should make people aware that sharing utensils with possible blood-to-blood contact— such as needles used for drugs, tattoos or acupuncture— can result in transmission of viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV, and that other common viruses can be spread by sharing improperly disinfected equipment.