Tattoos Damage Skin Sweat Glands

By: | September 29th, 2020

Image courtesy: Wikimedia

New research suggests that tattooed skin does not sweat as much as non-inked areas. The procedure of tattooing the skin involves repeated needle insertions for depositing ink. According to the research, this process may damage sweat glands and may have implications for the body’s ability to cool itself.

Sweating regulates body temperature:

Sweat is produced by glands in the deeper layer of the skin. The main function of sweat glands is to control body temperature. The tattooing process can result in damaging sweat glands, which could lead to an increased risk of heat-related injury or overheating.

Past studies suggest that tattooed skin seemed to produce about half the amount of sweat in comparison to non-tattooed skin. A high concentration of sodium in the sweat reduces the function of the eccrine sweat ducts. This fact suggests that the tattoo ink could be damaging the sweat glands, especially on people who have extensive tattooing.

Scientists measured the sweat on tattooed skin:

Researchers recruited ten individuals with tattooed skin. The participants were asked to wear a tube-lined suit designed to perfuse warm water over the entire body. Researchers then examined the amount of thermal-induced sweat produced by tattooed skin.

Researchers found that there was no difference in the onset of sweating both the tattooed and non-tattooed skin. This implies that the nerve signals to the sweat glands function normally.

But they also found that tattooed skin did produce lesser and saltier sweat than the adjacent non-tattooed skin.

Researchers explained, “These data suggest that tattooing functionally damages secretion mechanisms, affecting the reflex capacity of the gland to produce sweat, but does not appear to affect neural signaling to initiate sweating,” 

“Decreased sweating could impact heat dissipation especially when tattooing covers a higher percentage of body surface area and could be considered a potential long-term clinical side effect of tattooing.”


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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