Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 172-176

Tattoo practices in north-east India: A hospital-based cross-sectional study

Department of Dermatology and STD, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya, India

Correspondence Address:
Binod Kumar Thakur
Department of Dermatology and STD, North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-2077.191651

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Background: Tattooing has become increasingly popular, particularly among young people. However, little is known about the tattoo practices in North-East India. Objectives: The primary objective of this study was to know the reasons and motivations of tattoo application and tattoo removal in individuals asking for tattoo removal. The secondary objective was to identify the demography, methods and safety of tattoo practices in these tattooed individuals. Materials and Methods: A hospital-based cross-sectional study was carried out in 212 consecutive individuals seeking tattoo removal. Chi-square and Fisher's exact tests were performed for intergroup comparisons. Results: There were 178 (84%) males and 34 (16%) females. The mean ± standard deviation (SD) age of individuals seeking tattoo removal was 21.8 ± 4 years. The mean ± SD age of doing tattoo was 15.8 ± 3 years. Most individuals possessed an amateur tattoo (94.3%), 4.2% a professional one and 1.4% had a combination. Sewing needle was the most common instrument used for making tattoos in 51.4%. The individuals made their tattoos in an unsterile manner in 49.1%. The most common reason for doing tattoo was for fashion in 87.7%. The participants wanted tattoo removal to qualify for jobs, especially in armed forces in 49.5% and due to regret in 21.7%. Black was the most preferred colour in 37.3% followed by green in 28.3%. The fabric ink was the choice of ink in maximum number of individuals, i.e. 93.9%. Limitations: It was a hospital-based study done only on individuals seeking tattoo removal. It needs caution to generalise the findings in population. In addition, there may be recall bias in the participants. Conclusion: The tattoo was done mostly below 18 years of age in a crude unsterile way. The individuals had poor risk perceptions about various infections and complications of tattooing. There is an urgent need to caution and educate the youngsters and school-going children about safe tattooing and consequences of tattooing.

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