Do Tattoos Have Health Benefits?

By Vivian El-Salawy on April 17, 2017

Traditionally, tattoos have held a rather negative connotation within society, however there have been a series of studies conducted recently that are throwing around the idea that perhaps tattoos can present a variety of health benefits – particularly when it comes to their ability to boost your immune system.

Image via Pinterest

Tattoos are something that we see every day, whether they are on fellow college students or strangers we come across within our daily routines. Sometimes they are barely noticeable and other times they are hard not to notice. Whether you are somebody who is covered in them from head to toe, are hiding them from your family, or are even considering getting one sometime in the future (or maybe not), this is still a relatively new idea – that there are actual, potential health benefits to tattoos.


Much of the research done on this topic is conducted by Dr. Christopher Lynn at the University of Alabama. The study conducted by Dr. Lynn focuses on a group of 29 individuals who visited a tattoo parlor in Alabama for a new tattoo. In this study, researchers were monitoring two things: their levels of cortisol and Immunoglobin A. According to Dr. Mercola, cortisol is a stress hormone that is released whenever an individual experiences a stressful event. Immunoglobin A is an antibody that helps our body fight against infections. The interesting find was that the individuals who were getting a tattoo for the first time experienced a dip in Immunologlobin A, as they were anxious and stressed about the experience – whether it was about the potential pain or fear from the lack of experience. However, those who went in for a tattoo after already having had at least one tattoo actually experienced an increase in Immunologlobin A, which implies that they experienced some kind of ease after their inking.

“What we saw in folks with lots of tattoo experience is that, instead of suppressing immune response, there was an elevation,” Lynn said. “This is important, because you don’t want your immune system to be suppressed every time you go to the gym or every time you get a new tattoo, if it’s something you do often.”

Image via Etsy

Yes, that is to say that tattoos may actually make you feel good. Between the adrenaline rush and some of the endorphins that kick in throughout the experience, this can lead to a positive experience if you are looking to put a new piece of art on your body.

Some cultures practice medicinal tattooing, where tattoos are deliberately placed over acupuncture points for a therapeutic effect. This is a relatively ancient concept, however it is still used today with arthritic joints.

Image via Vanishing Tattoo

All in all, there are also a variety of downsides when it comes to your health and tattoos, however this study is fascinating in that it is one of the first of its kind. This isn’t necessarily to help convince you to get a tattoo (or not), but to better understand your body and how it can react to different things. At the end of the day, many of our biological reactions to our actions may differ on a case to case basis – but if you do need the leverage to convince your parents to get a second tattoo, this could very well be your gateway.

Vivian El-Salawy is a senior at Florida State University. She is currently pursuing a degree in Editing, Writing, and Media with minors in Slavic (Russian) Studies and Communications. Alongside writing for FSView & Florida Flambeau, WVFS Tallahassee 89.7 FM, and the Good Life Community magazine, she is a member of the World-Renowned Marching Chiefs and Seminole Sound.

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