6 March 2009
A rare skin infection that occurred as a result of tattooing has raised safety concerns (MJA 2009; 190: 278-79).
A 32-year-old man came to his doctor with a 2-week history of worsening erythema (redness), oedema (swelling) and pain in the tattooed areas after having new tattoos on his right arm and right lower leg. There was no improvement following initial treatment.
A skin biopsy (skin sample) revealed an infection with Mycobacterium chelonae, a rapidly growing type of bacteria that can cause localised cutaneous (skin) lesions and disseminated (widespread) disease.
‘Although cutaneous mycobacteria infections are uncommon, a high degree of suspicion is warranted when investigating skin lesions that do not respond to standard antimicrobial therapy,’ said dermatologists from the Skin & Cancer Foundation Australia.
While therapy with both clarithromycin and another antibiotic was recommended, they said treatment was ‘challenging’ as the infection was resistant to many antibiotics.
Last Reviewed: 06 March 2009