Infected tattoos– just the thought of it sends chill down the spine of people who have a tattoo or are contemplating one. All the tattoos feel uncomfortable for a few hours or even a couple of days after the session. But when the symptoms exacerbate and lead to something unusual, you need to pay immediate attention to it. In this article, we’ll tell you how you can differentiate between infected tattoo and discomfort, symptoms of infected tattoo and treatment for the tattoo infections.
What Is Infected Tattoo
Infected tattoos or tattoo infection occurs when the tattoo healing process does not go as planned. The tattooed area, right after getting inked is basically an open and large wound vulnerable to germ and bacteria. And it remains so until the skin heals itself by forming scabs over the wounds before regenerating an outer protective layer of the skin over the area.
But, if the germs and bacteria take entry to the wound, then even the immune system is unable to stop them from causing damage to the surrounding tissue. This damage is called infected tattoo. In most cases, the infection is minor and heals by itself within a few days or weeks. But sometimes, this infection takes a serious turn, overtaking even the tissues further away from the infected site. If you don’t treat it in time, then this infection can cause blood poisoning, eventually leading to organ failure and death.
Causes Of Infected Tattoos:
Infected tattoos are usually a result of bacteria getting into the wound. But there are several other ways a tattoo can get infected. Below, we’ve listed the common causes of tattoo infection.
- Unsanitary Tattoo Equipment Or Condition:
Unsanitary or unsterilized tattoo equipment is one of the top most reasons of an infected tattoo. That’s the reasons it’s considered imperative to get the tattoo done in a clean and decontaminated parlor.
- Ineffective Cleaning:
The risk of getting a tattoo infection increases if the region isn’t disinfected properly after the tattoo session. And it isn’t just caused by tattoo artists. Even people who get tattoos pave the way for infection by not cleaning the tattoo properly
- Not Following Aftercare Instructions:
Almost all the good tattoo artists hand over a sheet containing detailed instructions on how to take a good care of their newly acquired tattoos. But some artists, especially the ignorant ones, often forget to brief their customers on how to look after the tattoo. Those, who’ve got a tattoo for the first time would be entirely unaware of the amount of care they must give to their tattoo, which can lead to an infection.
- Rewrapping The Tattoo:
The tattoo artist washes the area with soap solution and then wraps it to form a protective barrier. The wrapping in done in an immaculate environment, after performing all the necessary steps for sterilization. The customer has to remove the wrap once he’s home. But some people often rewrap the tattoo, which leads to disastrous results, including infection. This is caused due to the humid environment created between the skin and the wrap, which leads the bacteria to breed and multiply. In this situation, the chances of contracting an infection are higher than usual.
- Picking Or Pulling The Scabs:
You must have noticed a layer of scabbing over the tattooed region, especially when the tattoo begins to heal. This crust shields the wounded skin from bacteria and germs. But some people often pull and pick the scabs, without realizing that it could be detrimental to their tattoo healing process. Pulling or picking of scabs reopens the wounds and invites the germs and bacteria into the region, thereby increasing the risk of the infected tattoo. Picking the scab doesn’t just delay the healing, but even pull the ink out of the area, thus creating patchy or faded ink.
- Scratching The Tattoo:
Not many realize, but scratching the tattoo is worse the pulling or picking the scabs. Scratching doesn’t just rip off the scab, but can even lead to bleeding and scarring, thereby transferring millions of bacteria from the fingernails to the wound.
- Taking A Bath In Dirty Water:
Some water bodies may look clean, but can harbor millions of bacteria. These germs can potentially cause infection if they come in contact with your tattoo. Also, letting your tattoo sit in the water during the healing process is also dangerous for both skin and the tattoo. So never bath, just shower with a new tattoo.
- Letting Others Touch Your Tattoo:
Let people marvel the beautiful design of your tattoo only from afar. Do not let them touch it if you don’t want to contract any infection. You have no idea when that person has washed his or her hand. Neither should you touch your tattoo frequently. Or avoid touching altogether. If required, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure that there’s absolutely no germ or bacteria present in it.
- Applying Excess Body Lotion:
Yes, we know that it’s recommended to apply moisturizing lotion to speed up the healing process. But some people slather excess of it in the hopes that it will heal their tattoo faster. But it does the opposite. Applying excess moisturizing lotion creates a humid environment between the skin and the cream layer, making way for the bacteria. It even thwarts oxygen supply to the tattoo.
- Medical Conditions:
Various medical and health conditions can affect your immune system’s healing capability. And it’s because of this reason it’s advised to consult your physician and dermatologist to ensure that tattooing won’t cause any infection or any impact on your health.
Symptoms of Infected Tattoo:
“Is my tattoo infected?” If you’re wondering the same, then we’re here to help you. Below listed are a few possible symptoms of infected tattoo.
- Look For The Inflammation:
If you’ve got larger and complicated tattoos, then the inflammation may take 48 hours to heal. But the inflammation won’t stay the same for 48 hours. It will reduce with time. But if the tattoo remains inflamed for more than three days, then it could be an infection. Caress your tattoo region to feel if any heat is radiating from it. If it’s radiating heat, then it is a sign of serious inflammation.
A new tattoo will itch. It’s quite normal. But if the itch gets strong, even after a week and itchiness spreads from the tattoo area, then it could be an allergic reaction or infection.
All the tattoos look red initially, but if the redness keeps getting darker than lighter, especially around the lines, then it could be a sign of severe infection. Also, if thin red lines are radiating from the tattoo, then you must immediately see a doctor as it can be a sign of blood poisoning.
- Swelling And Discharge:
If the tattoo or the region around it swells unevenly or gives rise to pustules or fluid filled boil, then it’s a sure shot sign of infection.
- Check The Temperature:
We’d even suggest you test the temperature with an accurate temperature after getting the tattoo. If the temperature is high, it could be a sign of infected tattoo.
Rashes generally signal a minor irritation, but if the rash is severe and gets worse or larger with time, then it could lead be a sign of infected tattoo.
- Excruciating Pain:
It’s a known fact that all tattoos cause pain, especially in the first few days. The pain may last for 24 to 48 hours, or even ten days in some cases, especially in the case of large tattoos. So don’t jump the gun too soon. It’s only after the pain lasts for more than ten days and is accompanied by any of the above-mentioned symptoms; you must visit the tattoo parlor and get the tattoo examined.
Remember, your tattoo will be red, sensitive, painful and slightly swollen on the day you get a tattoo. But if these symptoms last for more than three to four days, then it may be a sign of something serious. Please do not delay, as it can lead to something disastrous.
Treatment For Infected Tattoo:
Infected tattoos are usually a rare occurrence and can be treated successfully if acted on time. But there’s absolutely no reason you can take tattoo infection lightly. Below are the treatments generally following for infected tattoo.
First and foremost, you must show your infection to your tattoo artist or a dermatologist as soon as possible to make sure they’re not infected. He’ll evaluate the symptoms and will prescribe treatment, according to it.
Your doctor will prescribe you antibiotics to help your body fight off the infection. Topical infections can be treated easily, but blood infections are really dangerous and will need swift treatment.
- Topical Ointment:
Along with antibiotics, your doctor will even prescribe you topical ointment for a speedy recovery. Before applying ointment, ensure that the area is thoroughly clean. Wash the tattoo with unscented soap and water. Let it dry completely before applying the cream. After applying the cream, cover it with a sterile gauze, though not completely. Covering the infection completely with only promote the disease, not treat it.
How To Prevent Infected Tattoo Or Tattoo Infection?
Infected tattoos or tattoo infection isn’t that common, but one cannot rule out its possibility altogether. You must first take steps to prevent infected tattoo from occurring. Below we’ve listed how you can prevent tattoo infection.
- Get Tested For Allergies:
First things first, you must (and no, it’s not optional) get an allergy test performed before getting a tattoo. Most of the people are allergic to tattoo inks, which can lead to terrible consequences, if not given heed to. It’s said that black ink rarely causes any allergy. It’s the color ink and the additives present in it which cause allergies.
- Get Tattoos Only From Licensed Tattoo Artists:
Do a thorough research on the tattoo artist and tattoo parlor where you’re thinking of getting a tattoo. Ensure that the tattoo artist has a license and the parlor has a good track record. If you find any suspicious behavior or the environment is not clean, walk out right away. These things say a lot about the tattoo artist and the parlor, because a good tattoo artist keeps cleanliness as his priority. And see if the artist is using new needles or not. It’s extremely important for your safety. Also, see if the apparatus and other equipment are wrapped in a new film or not. It will prevent bacteria from spreading.
- Keep The Tattoo Clean:
Do not take the instructions given by the artists lightly. You must take utmost care of your tattoo. Rinse it gently with a warm, soapy water after 24 hours of getting it. The artist will give a topical ointment, which you have to use to keep the tattoo clean and let it heal properly. Do not use Neosporin or Vaseline on new tattoos.
- Give Tattoo Enough Air To Heal:
Keep the tattoo as cool and comfortable as possible, if you want to heal it fast and naturally. Do not cover the tattoo with anything and avoid wearing clothes that can irritate the skin. You must even avoid going out in the sun with a newly acquired tattoo. It can lead to the bleeding of the ink.
- Apply Moisturizing Lotion Only When The Skin Is Dry:
Before applying the moisturizing lotion, wash and dry the skin properly. And apply just a thin layer of moisturizing lotion. Please do not slather it.
- Follow A Balanced And Healthy Diet:
A healthy and balanced diet will help your immune system fight all the potential threats that can cause infected tattoo. Ensure that you sleep for at least 4 to 7 hours every night, especially during the healing stages. A sound sleep will also give a kick start to your immune system.
We know that infected tattoo can be really difficult to handle, but if you follow the preventive measures or treat the infection before it exacerbates, then you can easily avert the condition.
What tips would you suggest to treat and avoid infected tattoo or tattoo infection? Let us know by commenting below.