Epidermal Barrier Function and Skin Homeostasis in Skin with Permanent and Adhesive Tattoos: A Cross-Sectional Study

J Clin Med. 2021 Feb 22;10(4):888. doi: 10.3390/jcm10040888.


Tattoos are a current trend, but their impact on skin homeostasis and epidermal barrier function is not well known. So, the aims of this study are (1) to investigate epidermal barrier function and skin homeostasis in skin with permanent tattoos, adhesive temporary tattoos and non-tattooed skin, and (2) to analyze the effect of petrolatum on skin with permanent and adhesive tattoos. In total, 67 tattoos were enrolled (34 permanent tattoos and 33 adhesive tattoos). Temperature, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), stratum corneum hydration (SCH), erythema and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) were measured in skin with permanent tattoos, adhesive tattoos and non-tattooed skin before and after petrolatum application. The temperature was lower (30.47 °C vs. 31.01 °C; p = 0.001) on skin with permanent tattoos than non-tattooed skin, while SCH (48.24 Arbitrary Units (AU) vs. 44.15 AU; p = 0.008) was higher. Skin with adhesive tattoos showed lower temperature, SCH (21.19 AU vs. 41.31 AU; p < 0.001) and TAC (1.27 microcoulombs (uC) vs. 3.48 uC; p < 0.001), and higher TEWL (8.65 g/h/m2 vs. 6.99 g/h/m2; p = 0.003), than non-tattooed skin. After petrolatum application, the temperature decreased on skin with permanent tattoos, and TEWL and SCH decreased on skin with adhesive tattoos. Adhesive tattoos may affect skin barrier function, while permanent tattoos may have a lower impact. Tattooed and non-tattooed skin responds in different ways to moisturizers.

Keywords: adhesives; antioxidants; epidermis; petrolatum; skin barrier; tattooing.