The use of tattoos is recorded to have begun thousands of years ago, and the history of tattoo varies from one country, continents to another. However, the origin of the word ‘tattoo’ is believed to have come from two major derivations; the first is from the Polynesian word "ta" which means striking something and the second is the Tahitian word "tatau" which means ‘to mark something’.

The history of Tattoo in Nigeria cannot be pinpoint, but according to oral history, the wife of Sango, a great Oyo King was the first to mark (tattoed) her maid as a punishment for an adultery act. Her aim was to make her ugly, but she turned out more beautiful. Hence, the popularity of the marks. Though the truthfulness of the story cannot be ascertained, it sure proves one thing. It was considered beautiful!

Apart from the beauty, the Tribal marks (Nigerian tattoo) was a means of identification. There are more than 300 tribes in Nigeria, some years ago, at birth, proud parents will take their newborn to get Tribal marks as a way of identifying the child in the family lineage or ethnic group. It was believed that the best way of identifying people of the same ethnic group is the similarity of their marks. 

A former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was quoted to have said:

“Not many people know that I have three identity cards. The first is the International Passport; the second is the National Identity Card and the third is my tribal marks” 

However, in recent times, there has been a steady decline in the prevalence of facial scarification (tribal marks). Some have attributed it to the fact that our generation has become too engrossed in the western culture which has resulted in young people embracing the western tattoo.

In today's world, the Tattoo has become a form of self-expression. People use tattoo to tell the world something about themselves and what they like, their beliefs and value. Some use Tattoo to pay homage to loved ones, permanently engraving the names of loved ones or special significance.

As the use of Tattoo to express self continues to spread among today's youth, the industry is becoming wider, new artiste emerges, hence the danger of getting a tattoo increases. In fact, your tattoo can kill you. 

In an article by Sandee Lamotte for CNN, she wrote about the mistake of a 31-year-old man. A mistake that cost him his life days after getting a tattoo on his leg. 

The 31-year-old man who tattooed a cross and hands in prayer, with the words "Jesus is my life" went swimming in the Gulf in Mexico. Within days he was in the hospital, infected with vibrio vulnificus, a bacterium commonly found in coastal ocean water. The man went into septic shock, kidneys failing, and despite aggressive care, the man died within a month.

If getting a tattoo is important to you, you should take time to understand the danger in both the inking process and self-care of the wounds after the inking.  

Aside from death which is the climax of it all, there are countless of bad tattoo reactions. Sometimes your body can react in many ways you may have never thought about even after years of getting a tattoo. These reactions can lead to an illness or a critical medical condition.

Sandee Lamottee also shares the story of a woman in Australia who was being treated for a type of cancer called lymphoma. She had lumps under her arms, as well as enlarged lymph nodes near the roots of her lungs, all classic signs of lymphoma cancer.

But when doctors put those nodes under a microscope, they found out it was black tattoo ink placed there 15 years ago. She didn't have cancer, her immune system was reacting to the tattoo on her back.

It doesn't matter if you are getting a fresh tattoo or maybe you've had it for years, your tattoo can kill you if you fail to carefully study how to care for it. Do your own thorough research and listen to instructions from the professional.