Asabi Barner went to the Harlem tattoo shop featured on the massively popular Black Ink Crew reality show on VH1 and suffered a lasting tattoo reaction that began a day after she was tattooed, she claims. Barner reportedly blames Black Ink for what she calls permanent disfigurement caused by an unspecified reaction after she was inked at the famous shop, according to Pix 11.
— PIX11 News (@PIX11News) April 14, 2015
“When you leave the tattoo parlor, you are leaving with an open wound,” tattoo shop owner Lou Rubino explains in his aftercare video on YouTube. “Therefore, it is very important that you take proper care of it.”
Now that Barner is suing Black Ink, Black Ink might argue that perhaps Barner didn’t follow their tattoo aftercare instructions. Tattoo aftercare instructions care vary widely depending on the shop, but NYC law does require that all tattoo clients be provided with written tattoo aftercare instructions. Black Ink has the tattoo shop’s suggested aftercare instructions located on the first page of its website.
“Remove Bandage after 1 hour
Wash tattoo gently with cold water. NO SOAP
Apply light coat of Aquaphor Healing Ointment 2-3 times daily
Do NOT expose tattoo to Chlorine or sun for a minimum of 2 weeks (This may cause irritation and fading)”
NYC law states that post-tattoo skin care includes leaving the clean, sterile dressing over the tattooed area for three to five hours. While Black Ink suggests removing the bandage after an hour, another New York tattoo shop, Brooklyn Tattoo, suggests leaving the bandage on for at least four hours and then washing it with warm water and soap. During the first day and while healing, Brooklyn Tattoo suggests washing the tattoo with soap at least twice daily. The tattoo shop that made Black Ink Crew a reality show success doesn’t instruct clients to use soap on the first day, according to the instructions on their website’s home page.
— Poppys Wicked Garden (@poppysgarden) February 6, 2015
Still, what Barner described happening to her chest piece after she was tattooed by a Black Ink tattooist could also be a tattoo reaction that had nothing to do with sanitation. Her issues could have been an immunological reaction to her then-new chest tattoo, because she says it still hurts and itches several months after she was first tattooed. NYC tattoo shops are also legally required to have their clients sign consent forms and most shops also have their clients sign waivers recognizing that tattoos come with risks.
An article on Medscape elaborates on rare, but possible, reactions from tattoos.
“The introduction of foreign substances into the skin can result in a range of adverse effects, including a toxic or immunologic reaction to the tattoo pigments, transmission of infectious disease, and the localization of skin disease within the tattoo. The immunologic reaction to tattoos can vary from an acute inflammatory reaction to allergic hypersensitivity. The histopathologic pattern can be granulomatous, lichenoid, or pseudolymphomatous.”
My fifth tattoo caught allergy — B. (@BikoB) February 13, 2015
A study of tattoo allergies from last year in the medical journal Contact Dermatitis found that the allergens that are responsible for tattoo reactions might not actually be in the ink, but result from a complicated process called haptenization, or the reaction of an antigenic compound (like a toxin) with a carrier protein. Some tattooists and tattoo clients top a fresh unhealed tattoo with A&D ointment, which can contain lanolin and beeswax (both known to cause allergic reactions in a small percentage of the population). The study on tattoo allergies added that the process could also stem from a reaction that occurs in the skin after tattoo ink, especially certain versions of red pigment, are exposed to sunlight or tanning beds.
An article on Skin Artists suggests that people with allergies to some metals or with sensitive skin should find out what kind of ingredients are in the ink that the artist plans to use. People with severe allergic reactions to metals or other ingredients in the tattoo ink should not be tattooed or should find a tattoo artist who uses ink that is hypoallergenic.
According to an article in the Indian Journal of Dermatology from 2012, the incidence of severe adverse medical events from either infectious or non-infectious tattoo reactions is estimated to be about one in 5,000.
What do you think? Is Asabi Barner’s tattoo damage most likely the fault of the artist at Black Ink, her aftercare, an immunologic reaction, or something else entirely?
[Photo via Pixabay]