A large number of tattoos may become infected shortly after you leave the tattoo studio. It is usually very rarely the artists error. Infections may be viral or bacterial, but many tend to be bacterial and are really easily avoided.
What causes an infected tattoo?
There are several causes of tattoo infections. If your tattoo technician (aka tattoo artist) is using unhygienic apparatuses with insanitary practices, the likelihood of you catching an infection is highly possible. Improper tattoo aftercare and allergic responses to the pigment used can be also the causes too. Below are the common causes that the infected tattoo may most occur:
- Not washing the tattoo enough or whatsoever
- Being around a lot of ill individuals
- Swimming with a fresh tattoo particularly within lakes or ponds
- Going to sleep on unclean sheets and using dirty towels
- Authorizing other individuals handle their new tattoo design before it’s repaired
- Touching their own designs using filthy fingers (first timers tend to like to ‘feel up’ the tattoo)
- Not putting into action proper tattoo aftercare supplements
- Washing dishes, scrubbing toilets, and so on having designs upon the hands or wrists
- Using infected lotions or petroleum treatments.
What are the symptoms?
After getting a tattoo you will notice a degree of inflammation around the tattoo area. This is basically normal, but if the inflammation lasts for more than a week, you are already experiencing infected tattoo symptoms. The symptoms are as follows:
Is it itching? This means that there are bacteria in your tattoo and they are trying to breed. In response to this, your body has sent along a whole army of soldiers to do battle. Your tattoo is now a battlefield. If you are healthy, the chances are that your immune system will eventually win the battle. But it could take a long time. In the meantime it is very painful for you. The other problem with this battle is that it could ruin the look and brightness of the colors in your tattoo. The sooner you end this battle the better.
Is it very painful? Well you can always expect a bit of pain after having a tattoo. After all, you have had a foreign object dragged through your skin thousands of times, penetrating your nerve endings, so, hey; it is going to hurt a little. But is it really hurting? Is it getting worse? If so, the chances are you have tattoo infections of one sort or another.
Is it going red? If your tattoo is going red then you almost certainly have a tattoo infection. Remember those bacteria and the soldiers in your immune system? Well, they are doing battle right now for the right to live in your body. If it is just red, it is early days and your immune system will probably win, eventually….
4. Hot to Touch
Is it hot to touch? If it is then you almost certainly have tattoo infections of some kind. Whilst it is common for any tattoo site to warm up a bit, after all, no one told your immune system that you would be putting ink under your skin, too much heat indicates that a bacterial battle is going on in your tattoo.
Is it going swollen? If it’s swollen then you have an infection, but in one way it is a good sign. It means that your immune system has sent its armies of soldiers to the battleground. There isn’t much room under that tattoo, which is why it is swollen, a bit like your favorite shopping center at Christmas, it is jam packed with people who would not normally be there. A swollen tattoo is a sign that your immune system is putting up a good fight.
Is there discharge or pus coming out of the tattoo? The pus is your body’s way of getting rid of dead soldiers. They are toxic rotten cells that need to be pushed out of the body, so it is a good sign that your body is doing that. But are the dead soldiers your soldiers or the dead bacteria? You need to give your soldiers a helping hand.
Fever is one of the obvious signs of an infection. If you develop fever right after getting a tattoo and if the fever lasts more than 3-5 days, you might be having a systemic infection. The other symptoms accompanied with fever are weakness and muscle aches.
8. Red streaks
Is there a red line moving away from your tattoo under your skin? This could be the worst type of tattoo infections, as it indicates the beginning of blood poisoning. If you think that you have this symptom, get to the Doctors and the Doc will give you some antibiotics. And do it now. It is serious.
How to Treat
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, then it is not the time to be complacent and passive. Infections should be treated immediately to avoid further complications that may even lead to dangerous conditions like sepsis or even death.
The best way to treat an infected tattoo is avoid an infection in the first place. Before getting a tattoo, one must be prepared to care for it afterwards. An open wound is a breeding ground for bacteria so make sure to cover the new tattoo carefully with a clean bandage that allows some air to get in. This must be done for at least two hours. Using any kind of plastic to cover the wound is a very bad idea because this material locks moisture in and can lead to infection. The key here is to keep the wound clean and dry.
When washing the new tattoo, lukewarm water and a mild anti bacterial soap must be used. Using an abrasive material like a towel and rubbing it against the skin is forbidden. A wound must be pat gently to dry.
Another important way is to consult a doctor on how to properly clean an infected wound and which anti-bacterial soaps are most effective. Not only that, a licensed physician can also recommend anti-bacterial medicine for treatment. Bacitracin, A&D Ointment, or Neosporin are some of the commonly used ointments but consulting a doctor is still best. After all, other diseases, which one may not be aware of — such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease or an impaired immune system — can increase the likelihood of an infection or make it difficult for all types of wounds to heal.
How to Prevent
For many people, the risk of infection from a tattoo is enough to steer them away from getting their first tattoo. Stories spread quickly about tattoos gone bad and people tend to fear the worst. The truth is, the majority of people getting tattoos never get a tattoo infection. While the risk of infection is warranted, there are simple procedures and guidelines you can follow to greatly minimize any possible tattoo health risks.
- Make sure you go to a tattoo parlor with a good reputation
- Ask around for recommendations about where to go get your tattoo
- Take care of yourself and your new tattoo after you get it
Choose a Good Tattoo Shop
The first thing is to make sure you go to a tattoo parlor with a good reputation, sanitary procedures and a clean shop. If you enter a tattoo shop and find it to be dirty and generally unsanitary, simply move on to another. Ask around with people you know who have tattoos for where the best shops and/or artists are. Avoid anyplace you have heard anything negative about.
Minimize the Risks
The next thing is to take care of yourself and your new tattoo after you get it. Think of your new tattoo as any other open wound you could get on your body. What do you do when you get a large gash on your arm? You wash it, you treat it tenderly, you use antibacterial soaps and ointments and you give it the time it needs to properly heal. Avoid certain situations and never pick or scratch at it. All of these rules can help you avoid any tattoo health risks and possible tattoo infection.
Take Care of Your Tattoo
Do your research and take care of your new tattoo like any other open wound and you will find that the tattoo risks you hear about are minimal. They shouldn’t sway you from your decision. Getting a tattoo has risks just like anything else you do in life, from crossing the street to getting on a plane. What you need to remember is to take the necessary precautions and do everything in your power to prevent it from happening and stop any problems before they arise.