Cutaneous Mycobacterium massiliense infection from tattooing

by Science Editor

Sterile! Why is it so important that the water used to dilute pigment is sterile?

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Cutaneous Mycobacterium massiliense infection from tattooing: a common yet under-reported and persistent epidemic hazard for dermatologists.

Abstract: Among tattoo complications, non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) has emerged as a global public health concern. NTM infections associated with tattooing of immunocompetent individuals have occurred as sporadic cases and community outbreaks. Water sources are considered the major pathogenic reservoirs. Tattoo-related inoculation has been linked to contamination of ink, either during the manufacturing process or during dilution of black ink using non-sterile water.
The authors report a case of cutaneous Mycobacterium massiliense infection following tattoo placement. This report underscores the importance of clinicians to consider NTM infections in the differential diagnosis of procedure-related reactions....
Industry Significance Rating:

High - Industry alert, report has major implications related to health and safety.


BMJ Case Reports - 12/01/2018.

Authors: Velez L, Harb J, Anuszewski S, Wesson S.
Links:  Article Link Link to Publisher Search Google
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There have been instances of industry members advocating the use of distilled water for the dilution of tattoo pigment, distilled water is not sterile and may contain a range of micro-organisms and other contaminants, previous studies have shown that pathogenic organisms such as Burkholderia pseudomallei can survive in distilled water for as long as 16 years and cause cause life threatening infections, Mycobacterium are also capable of causing extremely serious infections and systemic illnesses.


Where possible technicians should avoid diluting and or compounding pigments unless absolutely necessary, if required tattoo pigments should only ever be diluted with sterile water/saline/pigment dilutant and care should always be taken to prevent contamination of pigments during use. Single use or smaller bottles of sterile pigment should be preferentially selected to minimise the risk of contamination during reuse.


Scientific Report, non-tuberculous, mycobacteria, contaminated water, non sterile, infection, pathogen 


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