Tattoos, Body Art and Tattoo Designs.

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It seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. What used to be the property of sailors, outlaws, and biker gangs is now a popular body decoration for many people. And it's not just anchors, skulls, and battleships anymore -- from school emblems to Celtic designs to personalized symbols, people have found many ways to express themselves with their tattoos. Maybe you've thought about getting one. But before you head down to the nearest tattoo shop and roll up your sleeve, there are a few things you need to know.

What is Exactly a Tattoo?

Tattooing has been around since at least the 5th century. Tattooing is accomplished by injecting ink into small, deep holes made in the skin. Most tattoo artists use an electrically powered, vertical, vibrating instrument to inject the tattoo pigment. The instrument injects pigment at 50 to 30,000 times per minute into the second layer of skin (the dermis), at a depth of 1/64 to 1/16 of an inch. A single needle outlines the tattoo and the design is then filled in with five to seven needles in a needle bar.

Most tattoo artists know how deep to drive the needle into your skin, but not going deep enough will produce a ragged tattoo, and going too deep can cause bleeding and intense pain. Getting a tattoo can take several hours, depending on the size and design chosen.

Does it involve any pain Geting a Tattoo?

Getting a tattoo probably hurts, but the level of pain might change. From The Reason That getting a tattoo involves being stuck multiple times with a needle, it can feel like getting a bunch of shots or being stung by a hornet multiple times. Some people describe the tattoo sensation as "tingling." It all depends on your pain threshold, how good the person wielding the tattoo machine is, and where exactly on your body you're getting the tattoo. Also, keep in mind that you'll probably bleed a little.

If You Want to do it?

If you're thinking about getting a tattoo, there is one very important thing you have to keep in mind -- getting it done safely. Although it might look a whole lot cooler than a big scab, a new tattoo is also a wound. Like any other slice, scrape, puncture, cut, or penetration to your skin, a tattoo is at risk for infections and disease.

First, make sure you're up to date with your immunizations (especially hepatitis and tetanus shots) and plan where you'll get medical care if your tattoo becomes infected (signs of infection include excessive redness or tenderness around the tattoo, prolonged bleeding, pus, or changes in your skin color around the tattoo).

If you have a medical problem such as heart disease, allergies, diabetes, skin disorders, a condition that affects your immune system, or infections -- or if you are pregnant -- ask your doctor if there are any special concerns you should have or precautions you should take beforehand. Also, if you're prone to getting keloids (an overgrowth of scar tissue in the area of the wound), it's probably best to avoid getting a tattoo altogether.

Tattoos are like a universal language, spoken by all but with many dialects and differences. What might mean one thing to you could mean the complete opposite in another country or to a people of another culture. So, don't prejudge someone based on your assumptions about their ink.

here are literally millions of symbols out there, representative of millions of things. Admittedly, some of them look pretty cool and would make a great tattoo. But if you don't know what a symbol means -- or if it even is a symbol rather than just an intricate drawing -- then you probably shouldn't get it until you've exhausted all possible research avenues. Highly recognizable symbols linked with certain groups, belief systems, lifestyles, etc. will associate you with those groups whether that was the intent or not. If you get a Confederate flag tattoo, you're going to be associated with the group that supports slavery, racial prejudice, and extremist behavior. But I happen to know several individuals that thought the flag was simply a "redneck icon" symbolizing "Southern pride" and they never intended for it to be offensive, but that doesn't change the fact that others will view them that way because of the tattoo.

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