For centuries, tattoos have reflected cultural traditions, personal beliefs, self-expression, and one’s preferred motorcycle club affiliation. But those who have used their bodies as a giant canvas for permanent ink with meaning might have a little trouble cooling off. That’s because tattoos might actually be interfering with sweating, according to a new study.
A paper published in the Journal of Applied Physiology recruited 10 subjects with tattoos and had them wear tube-lined suits containing warm water. When fitted against the skin, the warmth induced sweating. Skin covered by a tattoo produced roughly 15 percent less sweat than unmarked skin in the same subject.
While the sample size was small, the study follows other research into the effects of tattooing on sweat glands. In 2017, Alma College’s Maurie Luetkemeier used an electric current to produce sweat and found inked skin produced 50 percent less sweat, though the method to promote the sweat was considerably different than how the body cools itself naturally. Another study used exercise to observe sweating and found no difference in tattooed and non-tattooed skin.
This latest research seems to indicate that thermal-induced sweating can indeed be interrupted by tattoo ink and that a person’s sweat glands suffer an undetermined amount of damage as a result of being tattooed, which involves a needle being inserted into the skin’s dermal layer. While further research will be needed to make more solid conclusions, it’s something to consider the next time you ponder getting that full-back dragon rendering.
[h/t New Atlas]