SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology

American Academy of Dermatology

September 09, 2014 11:30 ET

Caring for Tattooed Skin: Tips From Dermatologists

SCHAUMBURG, IL--(Marketwired - Sep 9, 2014) - Tattoos are popular ways to change your appearance and express yourself. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, more than a third of Americans ages 18 to 25 have a tattoo, and about 40 percent of Americans ages 26 to 40 have tattoos.1

"As a permanent and often pricey form of body art, tattoos are an investment," said board-certified dermatologist Bruce E. Katz, MD, FAAD, who maintains a private practice in New York City, New York. "In order to protect that investment, it's important to take steps to keep tattooed skin healthy and vibrant."

To keep your tattoo looking its best, Dr. Katz recommends the following tips:

1. If your tattooed skin feels dry, apply a water-based lotion or cream to the tattoo. Petroleum-based products, such as petroleum jelly, can cause the ink to fade.
2. Protect your tattoo from the sun: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light can fade some tattoo inks and increase your risk for getting skin cancer. When you're in the sun, protect your tattooed skin by applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or more. Apply the sunscreen 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply at least every two hours.
3. Stay out of tanning beds and away from sunlamps. These devices may also fade the ink in tattoos and increase your risk of skin cancer. In some people, the UV light may also react with the tattoo ink, causing a painful skin reaction.
4. See a board-certified dermatologist if you have a skin reaction or if your tattooed skin is changing in any way. Your skin may have a bad reaction to the ink in a tattoo. This can happen immediately after getting a tattoo or years later. A change could also be a sign of skin disease. A dermatologist can diagnose what's happening and treat it.
5. When considering a new tattoo, consider getting it on skin that is free of moles. A tattoo can make it more difficult to see the earliest signs of skin cancer. When caught early, skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is highly treatable.

"If you have questions about tattoos or if you no longer want a tattoo, speak with your dermatologist," said Dr. Katz. "Although many tattoo removal kits are available online, these products are not regulated by the FDA and have led to permanent skin injuries. A dermatologist can provide you with safe options for removing an unwanted tattoo."

The "Tattoos: How to Care" video is posted to the Academy website and the Academy's YouTube channel. This video is part of the Dermatology A to Z: Video Series, which offers relatable videos that demonstrate tips people can use to properly care for their skin, hair and nails. A new video in the series posts to the Academy's website and YouTube channel each month.

 Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 17,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org. Follow the Academy on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).

To view this release in a media-rich format, go to: http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2014/aad/tattooed_skin/

1 http://www.pewresearch.org/daily-number/tattooed-gen-nexters/

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