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Clinical Updates on Iron Oxide

Iron oxide pigments used in micropigmentation are nowhere near 6 microns. Pigments vary in size from carbon black (.03 microns) to Iron Oxide Black at about .4 microns and upwards to 2-3 microns. The smaller the pigment size the more translucent the pigment. The larger the pigment size the more opacity you get. Natural iron oxides contain too much arsenic and mercury to be used safely in permanent makeup. Therefore synthetic iron oxides are the best for our profession. As to magnetic characteristics, iron oxide blacks or browns will be magnetic. The red and yellows are not magnetic

Recently a case of purported iron oxide allergy was diagnosed by a dermatologist; after further investigation, the actual culprit was nickel and not iron oxide. Technicians need to appreciate that iron oxides often contain nickel in amounts of up to 200mg/kg. Furthermore needles for micropigmentation are often dipped or coated with a nickel alloy. A retrospective survey of the literature indicates that the most frequent form of metallic allergen in women was nickel (17.9%) and in men chromium (12.9%). Other allergens encountered were: cobalt, mercury, and Perubalsam. Women have a higher ratio of positive reactions, in the group under 30 years, women predominate 7 times the mean and in the whole group 2.4 times. ( Cas Lek Cesk 1999 Aug 2; 138 (15):469-473.


Dr. Norman Goldstein first described the red photo allergic reaction in tattoo pigments in 1967; he discovered that the allergy was not due to the red mercuric sulfide in all cases , but rather due to the yellow cadmium sulfide used in red pigments to make them brighter. Cadmium sulfide is the photosensitive substance used in photoelectric cells.

Dr. Linda Dixon

 


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