Tattoo Infection - How To Prevent It

A warning if you are considering getting a tattoo. A not so common infection is causing problems for some people.

At first it looks like just a rash but the bumps can get bigger and, sorry to grosse you out here, but they get filled with puss. Then, for some people, they turn into ulcers and drain.

Dr. Eric McDonald with the San Diego County Health Department says NTM or Nontuberculous Mycobacterium is a rare bacterial infection, often difficult to treat.

"This bacteria can be resistant to multiple antibiotics. So sometimes you need to be on treatment for multiple months, sometimes up to 6 months and multiple antibiotics," he says.

For the first time ever, 2 cases of NTM are reported in San Diego. Both people became infected after getting a tattoo.

Health care officials aren't sure where the bacteria came from, but believe it may have been in the ink or the water used to dilute it.

The County Health Department, the Center for Disease Control and the FDA are investigating and ask consumers to take caution.

Dr. McDonald says one way to protect yourself from the bacteria is ask your tattoo artist to use sterile water. It might be a little more expensive, but it could cut down on the risk of infection.

It's also recommended that before you get the ink, you make sure the artist is registered and the shop has a permit.

And if you see any sign of infection, contact your doctor, right away.