By Ben Tinker CNN
Editor’s note: An image below contains graphic material. Viewer discretion is encouraged.
(CNN)– Everything began just enough: A 31-year-old man gettinged a tattoo on his right leg. Below an illustration of a cross and hands in prayer, the words “Jesus is my life” were composed in cursive.
As tattoo artists will inform you, there are some critically essential rules to follow in the hours and days after getting inked. Essential: keeping your brand-new body art clean and covered while the skin has a heightened vulnerability to bacterial infection.
Whenever a tattoo weapon pierces your skin, the needle is opening a wound– and another pathway by which bacteria can enter your body. The larger the tattoo, the more you increase your risk of possible infection.
After getting rid of the original plaster and carefully cleaning up a new tattoo, the traditional recommendations is to apply anti-bacterial lotion for defense. Continue doing this several times a day for the next few days, till skin has ample time to recover.
The No. 1 thing to avoid while a tattoo heals is soaking it. That indicates quick showers, no baths and certainly no swimming. Experts caution to avoid extended exposure to possibly dirty water while your skin repairs itself. Which’s where the story of the 31-year-old man takes a turn for the even worse.
A report released recently in BMJ Case Reports, a prominent peer-reviewed medical journal, reveals only that the subject was a Latino guy living in Texas. In a common case research study, patients are described by their initials. In this case, what happened was so rare, the authors decreased to provide even that, to avoid anyone from determining his identity.
5 days after getting his tattoo, the guy chose to go for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Simply 3 days after that, he was admitted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas with severe discomfort in both of his legs and feet. His symptoms included a fever, chills and soreness around his tattoo and elsewhere on his legs.
“A lot of our patients, when they come to our organization, come in ill– and he was certainly among the sicker of the clients that we have actually had come in,” said Dr. Nicholas Hendren, an internal medicine local at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and lead author of the report. “He said he had a lot of discomfort in [his right leg] That, obviously, drew our attention immediately.
“Within a few hours, things had advanced pretty rapidly,” he stated. “There’s darkening skin changes, more bruising, more staining, exactly what we call bullae– or mounds of fluid that were beginning to collect in his legs– which, naturally, is really worrying to anyone, as it was to us.
“He was currently in the early phases of septic shock, and his kidneys had already had some injury,” Hendren stated. “Extremely rapidly, his septic shock advanced from … early phases to serious stages really quickly, within 12 hours approximately, which is typical for this type of infection.”
To make matters worse, the guy had chronic liver illness from drinking six 12-ounce beers a day. He was immediately placed on a ventilator to assist him breathe and given powerful antibiotics.
The man checked favorable for Vibrio vulnificus, a germs commonly found in coastal ocean water. The CDC estimates that this infection, called vibriosis, causes 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths every year in the United States. The strongest threat factors are liver illness, cancer, diabetes, HIV and thalassemia, an uncommon blood condition.
“In the USA, most major infections appear to occur with the intake of raw oysters along the Gulf Coast, as almost all oysters are reported to harbor V. vulnificus during the summer season and 95% of cases were related to raw oyster consumption,” inning accordance with the report.
Most of the time, the only symptoms somebody will experience are throwing up and diarrhea, according to Hendren. Most healthy individuals don’t wind up in the healthcare facility, he stated, because their immune system is strong enough to combat the infection.
But “Infections can also occur with exposure of open injuries to infected salt or brackish water; however, this represents an uncommon system of infection,” according to the report.
Hendren never got the opportunity to ask the client straight whether he knew the advice against swimming not long after getting a tattoo but said the male and his family were unaware of how a major infection can advance so quickly.
For the next few weeks, the man was kept mostly sedated. After initial pessimism about the male’s diagnosis, Hendren and his associates became cautiously positive. The patient was eliminated from the breathing maker 18 days after being confessed to the hospital and began “aggressive rehabilitation.”
Over the next month, nevertheless, the male’s condition gradually started to worsen. About two months after he was first admitted to the hospital, he passed away of septic shock.
“For clients who are healthy, this organism really rarely contaminates individuals,” Hendren said. “If they are infected, many people do fine and essentially never present to the hospital. But in clients who do have liver disease, they’re prone to a lot more infection.”
Given that the majority of infections are the outcome of consuming raw oysters, Hendren worried the only way to eliminate the germs is by cooking them. People with liver illness or iron conditions ought to never consume raw oysters because they’re at such high danger for these infections, he said.
Hendren said the message isn’t really that individuals shouldn’t get tattoos.
“It’s if you opt to get a tattoo, do it securely, do it through a licensed place, and make certain you look after the wound and treat it like other injury,” he said. “That is very important.”
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