Health & safety are always concerns to prioritize when getting a tattoo. That’s why we have the health department inspect our studio every year, as well as only buying equipment and supplies from reputable manufacturers.
With concerns over health risks, the health benefits of tattoos often get overlooked. In this article, we take a look at the 7 best scientific health benefits of tattoos.
1. Multiple tattoos improve your immune systems
A study published in the American Journal of Human Biology uncovered that tattooing serves to inoculate the immune system. There are two reasons behind this. One is that they have less reduction in immunoglobulin A. The second is that getting a tattoo stimulates an immune response.
Immunoglobulin A is an antibody that helps the immune, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems. Higher levels of the antibody help the body to ward of pathogens and even the common cold or flu.
Tattoos also stimulate and strengthen the immune response. When the immune system detects a foreign invader in your body it sends antibodies to attack them. This happens when you get a tattoo. Your body attacks the foreign invader (tattoo ink), which is why swelling can occur. Eventually your body accepts the ink and you begin to heal. Over this time the immune system becomes stronger through its efforts to combat the ink.
A first tattoo does not have the same effect as multiple tattoos. On the first one you are temporarily more susceptible because your immune system is already busy fighting the tattoo ink. However, more tattoos compound the positive effects on your immune system.
2. Tattoos reduce stress
In addition to immunoglobulin A, the above study also tested for cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone. It was tested in the study because cortisol is an immune response suppressant.
Multiple tattoos were found to reduce cortisol levels, improving the immune system benefits of tattoos, but also helping with stress reduction. High levels of cortisol are associated with many of the physical and mental detriments of stress:
- Increased weight gain
- Inhibited memory & learning
- Elevated blood pressure
And that is just to name a few. The body produces cortisol in an attempt to reduce pain. But the associated effects aren’t always worth this benefit. Multiple tattoos result in the cortisol hormone response to be less active. That means less cortisol is produced, resulting in stress reduction.
3. Tattoos help in athletics
Cortisol reduction isn’t just great for reducing stress, it also has positive physical benefits for anyone who trains regularly. One of the biggest trends in weight training right now is attempting to reduce cortisol levels.
That’s because cortisol reduces your body’s ability to recover and heal. Reduced cortisol means your muscles can repair faster after training, growing more muscle and requiring less time off from the gym. Everyone from powerlifters to soccer players are doing their best to keep cortisol levels low.
They are doing this by taking supplements and even wearing mouth guards in the gym. Perhaps soon we’ll see an increase in tattoos amongst athletes in hopes of earning this benefit.
4. Visible tattoos can help land a job
There has long been a stigma against tattoos in the workplace. It’s not uncommon for young job seekers to seek tattoo removal in hopes of getting hired. However, recent studies have found that in some cases, visible tattoos can actually increase your odds of being hired.
The University of St. Andrews conducted a study on applicant selection and visible tattoos. The study uncovered that for some job types, visible tattoos are preferred. The reason behind this is because they help to present an image that the company wants to be associated with.
Most of these job types are for companies who target a young, edgy demographic. This is most common in industries like fashion.
Even in more accepting businesses sexual, offensive, or drug related tattoos are still generally frowned upon.
5. Tattoos are helping to improve vaccines
The greatest hurdles for vaccines are efficacy and costs. Through the study of tattooing, scientists are finding ways to make vaccines more effective with a lower production cost. They are using tattoos as a vaccine delivery method instead of the traditional needle.
The tattoo delivery method uses DNA vaccines, providing multiple doses safely, in a single session. The results are higher humoral and cellular immune responses than traditional vaccine injections. With as much as 16 times stronger effects.
The DNA vaccines are lower cost to produce, making the vaccines more accessible. Labs have already had success using the vaccine method for HPV in mice. And tattooing as a delivery method is already in use for other medical applications.
The downside is that tattoo delivery is more painful – it is a tattoo after all, than a traditional needle. This may limit its use to therapeutic vaccines, treating cancers and other major diseases.
The vaccine tattoos use no ink, so there are no permanent marks.
6. Tattoos provide confidence & self-esteem
Those with tattoos know the confidence associated with fresh ink. It’s exciting and you want to show it off – like an amplified version of the feeling you get after a really good haircut. But it turns out that the confidence boosting effects aren’t just for new ink.
A study of 2,395 college students found a correlation between tattoos and self-esteem. And the more tattoos, the bigger the confidence boost. Respondents with four or more tattoos had significantly higher self-esteem than those with less. This was especially among those who reported a history of depression.
The cause for this may be that a tattoo gives you a sense of control over the self. And allows you to reclaim something that has been lost or taken.
7. Tattoos feel good
You often hear people after their first tattoo saying they can’t wait to get the next one. This surprises some, who ask, “don’t tattoos hurt?” Others assume that it’s because of the cool new look or confidence they got with the new ink. But from a scientific standpoint, there is much more going on.
One of the biggest draws enticing people to return to tattooing is the process itself. Yes, getting a tattoo does hurt – but it’s the body’s response to this pain that makes getting tattooed feel so good. Your body releases a combination of endorphins and adrenaline, resulting in a euphoric state. This feeling leads people back to the local tattoo shop.
Getting your next tattoo?
Whether you are getting your first tattoo, or contributing to your ever-growing collection it’s nice to know that your ink can have some real health benefits. But always remember, despite these benefits it is still important to prioritize tattoo safety and to choose the best tattoo shops with sanitary practices.