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His arms were covered in pus and the pain was so severe, he had to keep them lifted in the air for days.
One would not think of going on a social media platform and choosing an unlicensed tattoo artist and ignore all the red flags that come along. But this Dubai resident did not think it was a cause to worry.
He was soon met with the dire consequences of choosing to get a tattoo in a hotel room. His arms were covered in pus, he was in excruciating pain and faced a possible threat to his life, he later learned.
Pradeep Kumar is a 24-year-old who arrived in the UAE six months ago. His friend suggested a ‘tattoo artist’ who is popular on social media and travels from India to different parts of the world providing his ‘services’.
The friend informed Kumar that the ‘artist’ was in town and suggested that they duo go and get tattooed. Kumar along with his friend soon did so.
After tattooing the two, the artist instructed them to wash their skin and apply petroleum jelly over the design, according to Kumar.
“It was at a hotel room in Deira, and I was initially happy with the design,” Kumar said.
However, that soon changed. The very next morning, he could feel that there was something wrong.
“I woke up and felt a burning sensation and pain around the newly tattooed areas. I immediately called the artist and he disregarded it as ‘after-effects of getting a tattoo’,” Kumar said.
But that was not the case and Kumar’s condition only got worse. “My tattoos were soon covered in pus and extremely inflamed. I could not keep my arms down because it would hurt,” he said.
Kumar’s friend who has got tattoos with him also had an infection but Kumar’s was much worse.
After a friend met them and saw their condition, he took them to Claudino Teixeira, a licensed beauty therapist based in Dubai who has worked in the industry for over eight years.
Teixeira is specialised in skin treatments, cosmetic and medical tattooing, and corrective procedures.
He decided to treat Kumar and his friend for free. “I saw the two and got extremely worried. One of them [Kumar] couldn’t even put his arms down. I told myself: ‘I will treat this boy for free’,” the Brazilian based in Dubai said.
Teixeira also took the two to a dermatologist at AIG Clinics Jumeirah, in Dubai, where the therapist works.
He explained that Kumar and his friend had necrosis on the infected area, which can be a very dangerous condition. It causes the death of tissue resulting in inflammation and scars. The concerned beauty therapist said that it was due to the artist failing to take proper hygienic measures when using the tattooing equipment on Kumar and possible cross contamination.
“At the clinic, we gave them antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, bandages and ointments to bring down the inflammation and pain,” he said.
Teixeira said that the two are “out of risk” in terms of the infection they got on the tattoos but other serious consequences of cross contamination are still a threat.
“It is a very serious issue that needs to be looked at. Dangerous illnesses like HIV, tetanus and herpes, amongst others, can be transferred from needles to skin,” he said.
Teixeira explained that the two are not completely out of danger. “They must get blood tests for a long list of diseases to make sure that they have not gotten them and after a few months, they must repeat the tests to be sure,” he said.
Despite the inflammation reducing, Kumar and his friend now have permanent scars on the areas they got tattooed.
Teixeira was so concerned for the youngsters that he contacted the man who tattooed them. “He was completely guilt free and had no concerns for the damage he has caused. He said that they developed the issues due to washing the area with water. That is not true, I believe,” he said.
He urged people to be extremely cautious of getting tattoos done illegally.
Gulf News spoke to another youngster based in Dubai who chose to get a tattoo from an unlicensed ‘tattoo artist’.
The 24-year-old based in Dubai chose to remain anonymous. She told Gulf News that despite her not getting an infection, she would warn people if they are thinking of getting one from an unlicensed artist in the UAE.
“The artists are not licensed, and because of that, their tools are not checked by any authority, it’s very risky if you’re not aware of how a tattoo is properly done in a licensed salon. Proper sanitation and after care are extremely important,” she said.
In the past, authorities have repeatedly cautioned UAE residents of getting tattoos from unlicensed artists and the danger it puts people’s health in.
Dubai municipality comments:
A representative from the Dubai Municipality said: “Kindly note that tattooing services are not legal in the salons and personal care centers according to unified health guidelines for practicing beauty, personal care and massage activities.”
The authority has published a document stating the unified health guidelines for practicing beauty, personal care and massage activities. One of the clauses reads: ‘It is not allowed to use permanent tattoos devices and services related’.