• extraction;
  • pigment concentration;
  • skin;
  • tattoo

Background:  Modern tattoo colourants frequently consist of azo pigments that not only contain multiple impurities but also are originally produced for car paint and the dyeing of consumer goods.

Objective:  In order to be able to assess the health risk of tattoos, it is important to determine the pigment concentration in human skin.

Methods:  We tattooed excised pigskin and human skin with a common tattoo pigment (Pigment Red 22) under various conditions. After tattooing, we quantitatively extracted the pigment in order to determine the pigment concentration in skin.

Results:  The concentration of pigments ranged from about 0.60 to 9.42 mg/cm2 of tattooed skin (mean value 2.53 mg/cm2) depending upon the size of the pigment crystals, the pigment concentration applied to the skin surface, and the respective procedure of tattooing.

Conclusion:  In conclusion, high concentrations of colourants are injected into the skin during tattooing and based upon this quantification, a risk assessment of tattooing ought to be carried out.