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Cutaneous Mycobacterium massiliense infection from tattooing: a common yet under-reported and persistent epidemic hazard for dermatologists


Tattoo popularity continues to rise, with 3 in 10 Americans bearing at least one. Among tattoo complications, non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) has emerged as a global public health concern. NTM infections associated with tattooing of immunocompetent individuals have occurred as sporadic cases and community outbreaks. Water sources are considered the major pathogenic reservoirs. Tattoo-related inoculation has been linked to contamination of ink, either during the manufacturing process or during dilution of black ink using non-sterile water. NTM infections have also been documented in a number of cosmetic and surgical procedures, including cutaneous surgery, Mohs micrographic surgery, mesotherapy, liposuction and laser resurfacing. NTM inoculation through exposure to contaminated water or non-sterile instruments remains a challenge for dermatologists and risk to patients. We reported a case of cutaneous Mycobacterium massiliense infection following tattoo placement. This report underscores the importance of clinicians to consider NTM infections in the differential diagnosis of procedure-related reactions.

  • dermatology
  • infections
  • skin
  • healthcare improvement and patient safety

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