Tattoo – art, aesthetics, and means of defining ourselves. Tattoos became a widely used symbol in all history. Even mummies got themselves inked as tattoos have been around since 1200 BC. The Romans used tattoos as a medium for branding people. However, old Filipino tribes consider men with the most tattoos as their bravest warriors.
With the modern age finally catching up, tattoos are slowly getting out of the taboo zone. It represents self-expression and permanence, labeling a person with the symbol that defines one’s self.
But in talks of getting inked permanently, do tattoos create side-effects and disrupt the way you sweat?
A recent study showed that there are changes between tattooed and normal skin in terms of producing sweat. This study has been conducted by researchers from Alma College in Michigan, which was led by Dr. Maurie Luetkemeier (professor of integrative physiology and health science). Dr. Leutkemier came up with the study after understanding that tattoo ink (after inserted) and sweat glands have the same depth in the skin. Specializing in skin physiology, he questioned whether there is damage done to sweat glands as a result of administering needles when getting tattoos done.
Our body regards sweat as an important function. Sweat is produced as its main function is to cool the body temperature down. The skin cools while water in the sweat evaporates, managing the excess heat.
Within conducting the research, they have recruited 10 young men to compare the sweat production between tattooed and natural skin.
Each subject had an equal amount of tattooed and uninked skin. The respondents were required to wear chemical patches that will induce sweat. This process went on for twenty minutes, keeping the patches on both the tattooed and uninked skin.
In the end, the process gathered surprising results. The research concluded that tattooed skin produced only about 50% sweat than the usual amount found in natural skin but double sodium levels than normal. The study suggests that tattoos do not leave sweat glands unhinged instead takes away its function, albeit a small percentage.
Once the research is proven vital in future studies, it will suggest health checks for personnel who take part in vigorous training exercises under the heat of the sun. For people with limited tattoos that exercise moderately, Dr. Leutkemeier suggested that the risks of negative consequences are low. Sweat rate is decreased within heavily tattooed people. Athletes, firefighters, soldiers – everyone heavily tattooed will be considered under the risk of overheating, heat stroke, and in worst cases, heat illness (that causes muscle death, kidney injury, and brain injury).
The Michigan study has breached new ideas within the subject, even with its early days. Being the first of its kind, Dr. Leutkemeier is looking forward to conducting future studies. He has pointed out that in the future, the study will be conducted in different conditions to prove its significance.
Dr. Maurie Leutkemeier heavily suggested that during the research, the team used a chemical stimulant to incite the sweat glands, never having the subjects perform vigorous activity. “We did not heat anybody up nor did we have the subject perform any physical activity,” the doctor explained in a Healthline article. He added that there is a great need to conduct future studies to finalize the risks for these individuals – whether overheat due to high temperature or rigorous physical exercise.
Yet the study has brought a temporary pause for athletes, giving second-thoughts to those who plan to get inked. We may be free to define and express ourselves, but health and safety always come first. Read, be aware of the consequences, and be responsible for your ink.
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