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Berlin The metals in nickel and chrome from Towiernadeln may be responsible for allergic reactions that can occur after titanium dioxide tattooing. A study in Toxicology of particles and fibers (2019; 16:33) shows that the popular wheat pigment can eliminate metals from the tattoo needle. The metal particles were detectable both in the skin and in the regional lymph nodes.
Allergic reactions to tattoos and their ingredients are some of the most common side effects of tattooing. In specialized centers such as Copenhagen Tattoo Clinic, one-third of patients are treated for an allergy. Most are Type IV reactions, also known as contact allergy. Common contact allergens include nickel and chromium.
Until now, allergic reactions have been attributed to contaminated color pigments. However, tattoo needles also contain nickel and chromium. These are made of steel, often with nickel (6-8%) and chromium (15-20%) added to make it resistant to corrosion and acids.
An international research team can conclusively prove that needle metals enter the skin. From there they are transported to regional lymph nodes, the place of origin of contact allergies.
Detection of titanium dioxide particles
Ines Schreiver and colleagues at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment in Berlin examined the first lymph nodes of the skin and lymph of three tattooed humans after their deaths. Using nanoscale synchrotron-based fluorescence, they revealed microparticles in tattoos containing iron as well as nickel and chromium, making it likely that they are derived from needles. Neighboring particles of titanium dioxide have always been detected.
It is a white pigment with which different tattoo colors can be created. The researchers therefore suspected titanium dioxide to separate the chromium-nickel-iron particles from the surface of the needles. Examination of tattoo needles with a scanning electron microscope showed that needles that had injected titanium dioxide into the skin exhibited more signs of wear than needles that used other pigments.
The same chromium-nickel-iron particles were found in the lymph nodes. In a previous study, researchers had shown that color pigments accumulate permanently in the lymph nodes. Schreiver suspects that they are either passively drained with lymphatic fluid into the lymph nodes, or that they are actively transported by the phagocytes. They then encounter T lymphocytes in the lymph nodes, which can trigger a type IV reaction.
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To further explore the role of titanium dioxide, the research team applied pigskin in black (carbon-based) ink and elsewhere with titanium oxide ink.
Both inks were free of steel particles. After tattooing with an ink containing titanium dioxide, chromium-nickel-iron particles were detectable in greater amounts in pigskin. In places with black ink, they were found only in very low concentration.
Finally, the researchers examined skin samples from a patient who had been diagnosed with contact allergy. The patient had been tattooed with different inks. Chromium-nickel-iron particles were present only at sites where an ink containing titanium dioxide had been used.
The study shows that tattoo needles pose a health risk. The magnitude of the risk to the individual now needs to be examined in the context of epidemiological studies. It would also be interesting if the use of steel needles or chromium and nickel prevents the development of allergies. © heat / Good king News