In recent years, tattoos have surged in popularity.

In fact, a whopping one in every five adults in the US has at least one tattoo. It’s no wonder many of us are fascinated by this phenomenon.

Although once a controversial topic, tattoos are now widely viewed as an outward expression of one’s personality. With the ever-growing hype surrounding tattoo culture, it makes sense to delve into these little-known facts about tattoos.

Let’s get started!

1. They Were Once Illegal

As previously noted, tattoos are commonplace in today’s society. So out of all the facts about tattoos listed here, this is probably the most shocking.

However, many states in the US banned tattoo shops during the 60s over concerns regarding hepatitis. In New York, tattooing was illegal from 1961 to 1997.

Even more surprising? Tattooing was illegal all the way up to the year 2000 in the state of Massachusetts. In fact, you could get jail time for violating this law!

2. Medical Mishaps

Women with tattoos on their lower back may experience complications if they wish to have an epidural during childbirth.

Allegedly, there’s a minimal risk of ink fragments penetrating the spinal chord. However, the risk may be slightly higher if the following factors apply to your tattoo:

  • Is your tattoo raised or scaly?
  • Is your tattoo agitated or look infected?
  • Have you gotten your tattoo recently? Is the skin on your lower back still healing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to discuss this in greater detail with your doctor. It should be noted that the research on this topic is insufficient and based on hypothetical situations.

It’s likely that administering an epidural will cause more aesthetic concerns rather than medical. Piercing the tattoo with a needle could leave a small scar, altering the look of the artwork.

On a similar note, patients with tattoos who’ve had an MRI scan sometimes complain of burns afterward. This is because the iron oxide used in tattoo ink may become agitated during the scan.

Out of all of these facts about tattoos, this is the only one with any potential real-world application.

3. Tattoos Have Been Around Since the Dawn of Time

The oldest tattoo to date is on the remains of a man estimated to have lived between 3300-3200 BC. Amazingly, his tattoos are still visible to this day.

On the inside of his left knee, he had a black cross. He also had several horizontal lines across his lower back and parallel lines on his legs, wrists, and ankles.

Scientists have analyzed his body and found that under each tattoo were joints suffering from a disease. Professionals guess that his tattoos were administered to relieve his pain.

Who knew these facts about tattoos would span millennia?

4. Pope Hadrian’s Ban

In 787 AD, Pope Hadrian prohibited all tattoos. This included using tattoos to mark criminals and slaves, which was a common practice at the time.

He believed that God made our bodies in his image. Therefore, tattooing would deface the skin and be an offense to the Lord.

Apparently, as a result of this ruling from 787 AD, tattooing wasn’t popular in Western Europe until the 19th century.

5. Both Churchill (and His Mom) Had a Tattoo

Lady Randolph Churchill (Winston Churchill’s mother) had a tattoo on her wrist of a snake. She would cover it with jewelry when she needed to hide it.

Churchill himself also had a tattoo. He had an image of an anchor on his lower arm.

Other surprising figures in history who also had tattoos include:

  • Harold the 2nd: After he lost the Battle of Hastings, his comrades identified his body via his ink. One tattoo included the name of his wife ‘Edith’ written across his heart.
  • Teddy Roosevelt: He had his family crest tattooed across his chest.
  • George Orwell: The author of 1984 had bright blue spots across his knuckles as a sign of rebellion. He got his ink when he was a policeman in Burma.
  • Thomas Edison: It’s fitting that Edison had a tattoo because his patented ‘electric pen’ laid the foundations for the first tattoo gun. He had five dots arranged in a geometric pattern across his forearm.

6. Urine Was Once a Component of Tattoo Ink

Long ago, urine was mixed with coal dust to form tattoo ink.

Needless to say, tattooing has developed leaps and bounds since then. (Or at least we hope so.)

However, with that in mind, urine’s allegedly still used within tattoo ink in Russian prisons. Naturally, resources for tattooing are scarce, so this often is the only solution–as if prison life wasn’t grim enough.

7. No Pain, No Gain

Your skin is pierced approximately 50 to 3,000 times a minute by a tattoo needle when you get a tattoo.

This will vary depending on the design, color, and size of your tattoo. Ouch!

8. We Can’t Spell Tattoo

The word ‘tattoo’ is one of the words most commonly misspelled words in the English language.

This ironic when you consider how vital correct spelling is when getting a tattoo.

9. We Love Angels and Hearts

Angels and hearts are the most popular symbols for tattoos.

A heart is universally recognized as a sign of love, whether this is for a specific person, activity, or possession.

A winged heart tattoo can often depict freedom, the beauty of being a free spirit, or the joy of loving freely. On a deeper level, this can also be a symbol of breaking free of an addiction that once ruled your life.

A heart with wings is sometimes a physical representation of the delivery of your prayers to God via angels. This connotation spans centuries.

10. More Women Than Men Have Tattoos

59 percent of US women have a tattoo, in comparison to 41 percent of US men.

Interestingly, 40 percent of women take a friend with them when they get a tattoo. This often encourages the other person to get inked because they realize the process isn’t as scary as it may seem.

This might be one of the reasons why more women have tattoos than men.

Did you enjoy these interesting facts about tattoos? Leave your thoughts in the comment box!