Could Too Many Tattoos Cause MS Trouble?

Could Too Many Tattoos Cause MS Trouble?
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Many people with multiple sclerosis (MS) get tattoos. Often it’s a way to deliver a statement about MS to the world, or perhaps it’s a personal message to the person sporting it. But a new report cautions that too much ink might create a health issue for some folks.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, the concern is heat, and we know how bad heat can be for people with MS.

Our bodies are cooled when we sweat. Sweat is produced by eccrine sweat glands, found all over the body. Researchers discovered that tattooed skin sweats less than normal skin. Why?

Getting a tattoo entails as many as 3,000 skin punctures per minute, and researchers suspect the tattooing process might damage those sweat glands. If the glands are damaged, the risk of overheating likely increases.

Small tattoos are less likely to interfere with overall body temperature regulation, the study reports. But if tattoos cover a lot of the body, the reduced sweating “could impact heat dissipation.”

MS and sweat

I’ve always wondered how sweating is related to my MS. I rarely sweat. I can exercise or bake in the heat and humidity and hardly a drop is produced. So, I wonder if my MS caused the dryness. Or, has my lack of sweat been a cause of my MS? Do I have damaged sweat glands, even though I don’t have any tattoos, and could that have a connection to my MS?

I took a small sweat survey last year and asked if others with MS had the same anatomical abnormality as me. Many said they do. Some said it began after they were diagnosed with MS, but others couldn’t remember ever sweating.

On the other hand, an equal number of people said they do perspire. Some said sweating had increased after their MS diagnosis, and some of those said they sweat profusely.

Fifteen years ago, the same journal that published the tattoo report published a study about MS and sweat. It concluded that people with MS have diminished sweat gland function due to damage to parts of the nervous system involved in regulating body temperature.

That brings me back to tattoos. If you’re interested in keeping your MS in check by keeping your body heat down and your sweat flowing, it might be a good idea to limit the number of trips to a tattoo parlor. How can you stand being stuck 3,000 times a minute anyway? I got needle fatigue from weekly injections of Avonex.

You’re invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.
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Ed Tobias is a retired broadcast journalist. Most of his 40+ year career was spent as a manager with the Associated Press in Washington, DC. Tobias was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1980 but he continued to work, full-time, meeting interesting people and traveling to interesting places, until retiring at the end of 2012.

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