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Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, South Africa

T Isaacs
RM Ngwanya
RJ Lehloenya


Tattoos are becoming increasingly common. They have an impact on many aspects of clinician-patient interaction. Therefore, it is necessary for clinicians to have a basic knowledge of pertinent issues relating to tattoos. We provide a brief overview aimed at pointing the practising clinician who interacts with a tattooed person in the right direction. We discuss types of tattoos; their evolving epidemiology; the process of tattooing and variety of pigments used; medical application and relevance of tattoos; complications of tattooing; methods of removing tattoos, the efficacy of these methods and their associated complications; legislative framework guiding tattooing in South Africa and recent significant developments in the industry.

S Afr Med J 2018;108(9):714-720