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Infected Tattoo Care

Getting a “tat”, as tattoo is generally called, is a thrilling experience. Tattoos have been one of the first and oldest forms of body art. For centuries, tattoos have served as an outlet to human sentiments. It gives an insight to the personality and life of an individual. In modern times, getting an ink is au courant or hip.

While getting inked, it is crucial to take utmost care in choosing the salon or parlor and also the tattoo artist. A tattoo is created with the help of an electrically-powered tattoo machine. The machine has needles that puncture the outer skin and deposit an insoluble ink. With each puncture, your skin gets inflicted with a wound, and as it is with any kind of wound, the tattoo punctures are susceptible to infections, too. Here’s a look at the symptoms of a tattoo infection followed the measures to follow in case of an infection.

Tattoo Infection Symptoms

The foremost thing before treating the infected tattoo is to recognize one. Usually, the skin around a newly done tattoo will be itchy and red with some swelling, which is absolutely normal, until at least 24 hours. If the swelling has not subsided after one day and the pain has also accentuated, then it could be the onset of an infection, and you must get advice from your physician.


However, at certain instances, the infection is deep-rooted in the skin, and superficial symptoms are not recognizable until after a few days of getting the tattoo. The signs of an infection can vary, but you can watch out for a few of these:

✦ Greenish/yellowish discharge from the tattoo can indicate pus formation and deep-seated infection. If you notice this, you must immediately visit a nearby healthcare organization.

✦ Another sign of infection in the tattoo can be elevated body temperature. Even slight fever after getting a tattoo must not be taken lightly.

✦ Initially, the tattoo and the area surrounding it can become red and slightly inflamed due to puncture in the skin. However, if the redness has increased with a tingling sensation and the site of the tattoo is itchy, then you have definitely contracted an infection.

✦ If the site of the tattoo feels hot and you experience radiating pain, then you must go to a doctor without any further delay.

✦ Foul odor emanating from the tattoo is an indication that the infection has worsened. This condition will require urgent medical attention.

Caring for an Infected Tattoo

Once you recognize these symptoms and the infection, follow every instruction given to you by the doctor and/or your tattoo artist. There are certain home care steps that you can take to curtail the infection.

✦ Inked Area Should be Dry: Keeping your tattoo dry at all times is the most important part of tattoo care. Remember that water is the biggest enemy of your tattoo while it is healing. Do not swim with an infection, and try to completely avoid contact between the infected area and water, even when taking a bath/shower.

✦ Avoid Use of Chemicals: Avoid using harsh or scented soaps, colored lotions, or any petroleum-based products over your tattoo. These can irritate your tattoo and subdue the healing process. Petroleum-based products keep the tattoo wet and warm, which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

✦ Never Leave the Area Uncovered: To heal an infected tattoo, you must let it get in contact with air to hinder any further growth of bacteria. If you want to cover it, do so using a sterile gauze coated in an antibiotic cream, or ointment. You must also change this gauze frequently. Never expose your infected tattoo to dirt, grime, pets, or anyone’s bodily fluids. Take care so that the infected tattoo does not stick to your clothing, or bedding.

✦ Application of an Ointment: Apply a layer of antibiotic ointment as prescribed by the doctor, or the tattoo artist over the infected area twice a day. Do so after cleaning the surface and drying it properly. Repeat this daily until the tattoo infection clears.

✦ When to Call the Doctor: After all these steps, if the infection still persists, then consult a physician. You might be asked to take a blood test to determine the type and impact of the infection. The physician will recommend certain antibiotics to be taken either orally, or intravenously. Stick to the prescribed dosage. Even though after a few dosages the infection subsides, complete the course of medication to avoid a relapse.

Avoiding an Infection

There is an age-old saying, “Prevention is better than cure”. This applies to taking care of the infected tattoo, too. If you have made up your mind to get yourself inked, there are certain things that you must keep in mind to protect your precious tattoo from an infection. The checklist given below will help you.

☑ Select a certified tattoo artist. Make sure that he/she uses sterilized equipment and new needles. Also, ensure that the ink is authentic and from a trusted manufacturer.

☑ If you have any allergies, or skin ailments, like eczema, convey it to the artist. He might ask you to visit a physician and start a course of antibiotics, few days before you get the tattoo.

☑ After the tattoo is made, your artist will cover it with an ointment and bandage. Do not remove the bandage for two to three hours (maximum). After you remove the bandage, rinse off with water and apply Tat Wax soothing balm on the area. Repeat the procedure for the next 12-48 hours.

☑ Keep the area dry at all times. Protect your ink from water and direct sunlight. Wrap it in plastic cling film while taking bath, and keep it covered while going out.

☑ Cold conditions accelerate the healing process, while hotter places can induce an infection. So, set your air conditioner at a lower temperature.

☑ Follow every instruction given by your artist regarding aftercare of the tattoo.

Some of you might also have allergic reactions to tattoo inks, or experience adverse skin conditions. To determine the exact problem, you need to see a doctor, or a dermatologist. You must not hesitate to go back to your tattoo artist or doctor to have the infection checked and evaluated. If left untreated, infections can not only damage the tattoo itself, but they can potentially lead to life-threatening problems, like blood infection.

Remember, you are getting a tattoo to depict something, which is important to you. It is a body art, and your tattoo will become a part of your own body. Take proper care and cherish the experience.

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