Mycobacteria introduced by tattoos

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e8331 (Published 12 December 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8331
  1. Victoria E Scott-Lang, registrar,
  2. Ann Sergeant, registrar,
  3. Alex Holme, consultant
  1. 1Department of Dermatology, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH3 9HA, UK
  1. vscottlang{at}doctors.org.uk

A 42 year old man developed a rash in the grey area of a new tattoo. Other clients tattooed at the same studio, which used tap water to dilute black ink and rinse needles, had similar eruptions. Skin biopsy confirmed granulomatous inflammation, and Mycobacterium chelonae was grown on culture. This environmental organism can be introduced into the skin by trauma. Treatment depends on in vitro susceptibility of M chelonae, but clarithromycin monotherapy is often sufficient. Atypical mycobacterial infections affecting the skin are increasingly recognised, and should be considered in patients with granulomatous inflammation within tattoos.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e8331


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