Armpit tattoos, bravery or just plain crazy?
Your armpits are sensitive areas, so getting an intricate tat in that area is not an easy decision to make. Yet photos of these tattoos have been popping up all over Instagram. But are they safe to get?
Pauline J. Jose, MD, a clinical instructor in UCLA’s Department of Family Medicine has shed some light on this subject. It turns out there is one real risk associated with prettied-up pits, and it has to do with your lymph nodes: “Tattoo pigments travel through the lymphatic system,” Dr. Jose explains. “Since lymph nodes are abundant in the armpit area can pigment those lymph nodes, and mimic—or confuse—a cancer diagnosis.”
Armpit tattoos can be especially problematic for people who develop melanoma, says Dr. Jose, because pigmented lymph nodes can look like metastasis. “All those pigmented lymph nodes, and the skin supplied by them, may need to be biopsied when looking suspicious.”
Getting a tat in the armpit area isn’t the only body part to avoid. Moles should never be inked over, because doing so can make it harder to detect any changes that could be a sign of skin cancer. And getting a tattoo near your eyes is also a bad idea, since the ink can pigment the eyes, says Dr. Jose.