Hitting the ground from a high speed fall from a bike, motorcycle, or even while running can cause dirt and tiny pieces of gravel to embed in your skin which causes a dark discoloration after the skin heals. Months later it even looks like a dirty stain. No amount of washing or scrubbing will remove this “dirt tattoo,” but there are effective treatments. Stay tuned!
It’s not just weekend warriors who are in bike and running accidents… it happens to the pros and even to mere mortals… like dermatologists! While ego injuries are rampant and broken bones are incapacitating, it’s the skin injuries that require ongoing attention because healing is so slow when the injury is the type of deep abrasion that occurs with forceful sliding injuries. The wounds require a lot of cleansing and irrigation to try to get all the foreign material out from the abrasion. When healing is finally complete, there usually is some type of dark discoloration from the dirt, sand and gravel that remained in the skin. That discoloration is the functional equivalent of a tattoo and its technical name is a “traumatic tattoo”. So you may ask, if you can remove cosmetic tattoos with lasers, can you also remove dirt tattoos? The answer is a definite yes!
In my practice, we perform laser tattoo removal everyday and the same techniques and lasers – YAG and ProFractional Erbium – are used to remove dirt tattoos that we use for regular cosmetic tattoos. The colors that cause dirt tattoos are usually much easier to treat than many of the colors in cosmetic tattoos. Depending on the dirt tattoo size and the intensity of its color, we may use local anesthesia to insure that the treatment is completely painless. Treatments take 10-20 minutes, are repeated at 1 to 2 month intervals, and usually only 4 to 6 treatments or even fewer are needed. Minor dirt tattoos can even be removed by as few as 1 or 2 treatments!
After the treatment, an antibiotic ointment is applied for two weeks and there are no restrictions on your activities… except of course…you might want to stay off your bike for a while.