If you have a tattoo or have been thinking about getting a tattoo, heres a PSA: A study has revealed that tattooed skin actually sweats less than regular skin and the sweat produced has a higher concentration of sodium than bare skin, which could put you at an increased risk for a heat illness.
The study, which was published in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Journal, looked at 10 healthy young adult males who had at least one tattoo that covered a circular area 5.2 centimeters or larger on one side of their body.
The direct opposite part of their body had to be bare skin, in order to get as accurate of a comparison as possible.
The participants' sweat responses of the tattooed skin and the correlating bare skin were compared, and the results found that the tattooed skin produced less sweat overall.
The results also found that the sweat produced by the tattooed skin had a higher concentration of sodium.
According to a Time article that also examined the findings, the results could imply some potential health risks for tattooed individuals, namely an increased risk of some sort of heat illness.
Sweat is produced by our bodies to cool off. The article explained that when we sweat, our bodies typically reabsorb some of the electrolytes found in sweat, such as sodium.
The findings indicate that tattooed skin messes with the reabsorption process and prevents the skin from producing as much sweat overall, making it harder for the body to cool itself down.
The study's coauthor, Maurie Luetkemeier, said in the Time article that military personnel are an example of a population that could face potential problems with this. “You look at someone in the military, where tattoos are very prevalent, and if they’re exposed to high heat and a heavy workload, there could be thermoregulatory problems,” he said.
The risk isn't substantial if you have a small tattoo or two.
But if your tattoos cover a large part of your body, especially a part that sweats a lot, it could be problematic.