Is the Bite-Mark Tattoo Craze trending or risky business?



Have you ever wondered what making a love bite permanent would be like?

If you have, you’re not the only one. A quick peruse on social media will show you bite-mark tattoos are having a moment.

As of Thursday, the hashtag #bitemarktattoo has over 34.7 million views on TikTok.

One of the most popular videos on the platform — posted by the Danish tattoo parlor Betty Zoo Tattoo on November 22 — shows a woman biting a man’s arm before he has the marks left by her teeth tattooed in black ink.


Bite Mark tattoo #fyp #bf #tattoo #bitemarktattoo #foryou #trending #onthisday #fypviralシ

♬ My Love Mine All Mine – Mitski

In the comment section of the clip, which had over 13.8 million views at the time of writing, some users said they love tattoos, while others raised health concerns about the method.

“I feel like couple’s tattoos have so many cute ideas, but y’all getting bite marks why,” one user wrote.

“Ringworm core,” another wrote, suggesting that the tattoo style could be unclean.

However, a Betty Zoo Tattoo representative told Business Insider that the tattoo cost roughly 800 Danish kroner, or around $118, and was “harmless.”

They added that the client’s skin was “perfectly cleaned before” and after the tattooing, in line with their standard business practice “to ensure no infections will occur in the healing process.”

“All our artists have taken a hygiene course before having the right to tattoo in the studio, so they know all the safety standards,” the representative added, adding that the studio values safety highly.

The tattoo was inked after the client's girlfriend bit into his arm.
The tattoo was inked after the client’s girlfriend bit into his arm. Courtesy of Betty Zoo

Oliver Thage, the client with the bite-mark tattoo featured in the video, told Business Insider he got the ink for “the fun of it” after seeing the style on social media. He said he had no personal concerns about it from a health perspective.

“I didn’t think that deep that there should be any concerns because she’s not biting into my skin; it’s just to get a little marker,” Thage, 22, said. He added that his girlfriend didn’t bite him hard enough to leave a complete dental outline, so the tattoo artist free-styled some parts.

The client said his tattoo is healing normally.
The client said his tattoo is healing normally. Courtesy of Oliver Thage

The video has raised questions about the safety of bite-mark tattoos

New York City-based tattoo artist Mary Minahan, who has worked in the industry for 13 years, told BI she thinks people should be cautious about the bite-mark trend.

“What if that person has an infection or there’s so much bacteria in the mouth? You don’t know where that person’s mouth has been,” said the tattoo artist, who goes by Miss Vampira on Instagram.

Minahan’s concerns were echoed by Dr. Adam Friedman, professor and chair of dermatology at George Washington University, who told BI he thinks it’s “a perilous trend.”

“Human bites are notorious for their propensity in causing infections at the site of the bite injury as well as posing a potential risk for transmission of systemic infections,” Friedman said.

In Thage’s case, the Betty Zoo representative said the tattooed part of his arm was cleaned before and after being inked.

But Friedman said that while disinfecting the area of skin that was bitten before tattooing could “theoretically” prevent infection, it won’t completely rule out chances of one developing.

“The bite itself is the issue as you push oral bacteria and whatever else through the skin barrier,” Friedman said.

Mary Minahan is a tattoo artist with over a decade of experience in the industry.
Mary Minahan is a tattoo artist with over a decade of experience in the industry. Courtesy of Mary Minahan

According to Friedman, human saliva contains as many as 50 species of bacteria, so human bites are believed to cause higher infection rates than other types of injuries. Risks include the potential for infections caused by bacteria, he added.

Friedman also said that there have been reports that human bites can lead to the transfer of viruses like hepatitis, herpes virus, tetanus, and syphilis.

Besides infection, Friedman said tattooing over a bite could influence the appearance of the ink “at a minimum” but could also “result in an inappropriate immune response, forgetting even the potential for scarring.”

There are safer ways to get a bite-mark tattoo.

For those keen to jump on the trend, Minahan recommends alternative methods like having a tattoo artist work from a photograph of a bite.

Besides minimizing health risks, Minahan said the tattoo would look better if copied from a photograph.

“It would honestly come out as a better tattoo than going over some dips inside somebody’s skin,” she said.

As for Thage, he said he understands the concerns about the method used for bite-mark tattoos but noted that he is healing normally.

“Some people are taking it more seriously than it should be,” he said.

And while he’s happy with his new ink, Thage said he plans to return to Betty Zoo Tattoo for a touch-up.

“I think the teeth are a bit too small,” he said.

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