A tattoo is a form of body modification.

Tattoos are  made by inserting tattoo ink, dyes, and/or pigments, either indelible or temporary, into the dermis layer of the skin to form a design. 

Tattooing involves the placement of pigment into the skin’s dermis, the layer of dermal tissue underlying the epidermis. 

The pigment is dispersed throughout a homogenized damaged layer down through the epidermis and upper dermis, in both of which the presence of foreign material activates the immune system’s phagocytes to engulf the pigment particles. 

With healing,the damaged epidermis flakes away and eliminates surface pigment, while deeper in the skin granulation tissue forms, which is later converted to connective tissue by collagen growth. 

In the upper dermis the pigment remains trapped within successive generations of macrophages, ultimately concentrating in a layer just below the dermis/epidermis boundary. 

In  the long term the pigment tends to migrate deeper into the dermis, accounting for the degraded detail of old tattoos.

Tattoos may be decorative, symbolic or pictorial.

Tattoos serve as rites of passage, marks of status, rank, symbols of religious and spiritual devotion, decorations for bravery, marks of fertility, pledges of love, amulets and talismans, performance artistry, protection, and as punishment; marks of outcasts, slaves and convicts. 

Tattoos are placed for artistic, cosmetic, sentimental/memorial, religious, cultural, and spiritual reasons, to symbolize their belonging to or identification with particular groups, including criminal gangs or a particular ethnic group or law-abiding subculture. 

Tattoos may show how a person feels about a relative or about an unrelated person.

Tattoos can also be used for functional purposes, such as identification, permanent makeup, and medical purposes.

Tattoos have been used to mark crimes or to mark prisoners or slaves.

The American Academy of Dermatology distinguishes five types of tattoos: 

traumatic tattoos that result from injuries, such as asphalt from road injuries or pencil lead; 

amateur tattoos

professional tattoos,

cosmetic tattoos,

Medical tattoos

A traumatic tattoo occurs when a substance such as asphalt or gunpowder is rubbed into a wound as the result of some kind of accident or trauma.

When this involves carbon, dermatologists may call the mark a carbon stain instead of a tattoo.

Coal miners could develop marks owing to coal dust getting into wounds.

An amalgam tattoo is when amalgam particles are implanted in to the soft tissues of the mouth,.

Stabbing with a pencil or pen, leaving graphite or ink beneath the skin.

Tattoos are sometimes used to help them identify burned, putrefied, or mutilated bodies, as tattoo pigment lies encapsulated deep in the skin, and are not easily destroyed even when the skin is burned.

Pets, show animals, thoroughbred horses, and livestock are sometimes tattooed with animal identification marks. 

Permanent makeup is the use of tattoos to enhance eyebrows, lips, eyes, and even moles, usually with natural colors.

Artistic tattoos over the surgical scars of a mastectomy, and tattooing of nipples on reconstructed breasts are increasingly common.

Medical tattoos are used to ensure proper located for repeated application of radiotherapy and for the areola in some forms of breast reconstruction. 

Tattooing has also been used to convey medical information: blood group, medical condition.

Alzheimer patients may be tattooed with their names, so they may be easily identified if they go missing.

Tattoos are used in skin tones to cover vitiligo, a skin pigmentation disorder.

Since the 1970s, tattoos have become a mainstream part of Western fashion, common between all genders, among all economic classes and to age groups from the later teen years to middle age. 

The tattoo has taken on a decidedly different meaning than for previous generations, and has shifted from a form of deviance to an acceptable form of expression.

The most common method of tattooing in modern times is the electric tattoo machine, which inserts ink into the skin via a single needle or a group of needles that are soldered onto a bar, which is attached to an oscillating unit. 

There is rapid and repeated drives of the needles in and out of the skin, usually 80 to 150 times a second.

The use thermal stencil paper or hectograph ink/stencil paper first places a printed design on the skin before applying a tattoo design.

Tattooing is regulated in many countries due to associated health risks to client and practitioner, specifically local infections and virus transmission. 

Hygienic measure are required to protect the tattooed and the tatooist, by the use of a sterilized environment.

Tattoos are strongly empirically associated with deviance, personality disorders and criminality.Although 

The acceptance of tattoos is on the rise in Western society, they still carry a heavy stigma among certain social groups.

In the United States many prisoners and criminal gangs use distinctive tattoos to indicate their criminal behavior, prison sentences and organizational affiliation.

A teardrop tattoo can be symbolic of murder, or each tear represents the death of a friend. 

The U.S. military have a history of tattooing to indicate military units, battles, and kills.

In Japan, tattoos are associated with criminal groups.

The prevalence of women in the tattoo industry,  along with larger numbers of women bearing tattoos, appears to be associated with a decline in negative perceptions.

Younger generations are typically more accepting of heavily tattooed women.

The pain of tattooing can range from uncomfortable to excruciating depending on the location of the tattoo.

Tattooing carries health risks including infection and allergic reactions.

Tattoo inks are mostly  nonreactive histologically.

Allergic reactions to tattoo inks, particularly certain colors, have occurred, due to the presence of nickel in an ink pigment, which triggers a common metal allergy. 

Occasionally, blood vessels are punctured during the tattooing procedure, and a bruise/hematoma may appear. 

Modern-day tattoo inks contain nanomaterials.

The use of red or similar colors such as purple, pink, and orange tend to cause more problems and damage compared to other colors.

Red ink has even caused skin and flesh damages.

Sun protection of skin prevents tattoos from fading.

Tattoos are considered permanent, but it is sometimes possible to remove them, fully or partially, with laser treatments. 

The expense and pain associated with removing tattoos are typically greater than the expense and pain associated with applying them. 

Methods for tattoo removal include: laser, dermabrasion, salabrasion, reduction techniques, cryosurgery and excision.

Excision is sometimes still used along with skin grafts for larger tattoos. 

Older methods, however, have been nearly completely replaced by laser removal treatment options.

A temporary tattoo is a non-permanent image on the skin resembling a permanent tattoo. 

Temporary tattoos can be drawn, painted, airbrushed, or needled in the same way as permanent tattoos, but with an ink which dissolves in the blood within 6 months.

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