Table of contents for Tattoo health issues
A tattoo is not just a work of art. It’s an open wound. Your skin has been punctured thousands of times, and foreign matter has been pushed into it and left there to stay. Is it any wonder that most of our bodies raise objections to this?
One look at any tattoo artist’s portfolio that includes photos of brand new tattoos will show you that the entire area around a
tattoo is bright red. This is inflammation, and shouldn’t be disregarded. First and foremost, do not let your artist put plastic wrap on your tattoo. It will only seal in contaminants and keep the newly punctured skin from protecting itself in the only way it knows how, by forming a scab. Make sure the artist covers the new ink with a gauze bandage. Although most artists say you can take the bandage off when you get home, my own personal recommendation is that you leave it on overnight. That will keep your new ink from being rubbed by whatever you sleep in, or your sheets.
It’s very likely that the skin around and under your tattoo will be swollen after the work is done. This is a normal reaction to trauma, and it should go away after at most a day or so. If the swelling increases, or won’t go away, it’s time to see a doctor. You may be having a serious reaction to the ink, the artist’s latex gloves, the ointment or cream that you’ve been using on the skin, or something else. It may be that you’re finding out the hard way about an allergy you knew nothing about up till then. (I found out about the fact that my body doesn’t like red ink like that.)
Since the tattoo process punctures the skin, it’s almost inevitable that you will bleed while the work is being done. Any reputable artist knows how to deal with that and will wipe your skin with something that will clear away the blood. The liquid used varies from artist to artist. Some use plain distilled water, some use an antiseptic of some kind. It would be a good idea to ask the artist what he or she uses so you will know if you react to it. Your skin will probably continue to bleed a little bit after the tattoo is finished. If it’s still bleeding more than 24 hours later, call the artist and see what he or she recommends.
The oozing usually continues for several days. While you don’t want to rebandage the inked area after you’ve taken off the bandage, it’s a good idea to wear old clothing that you won’t worry about if the ink comes off a bit or if the clothing gets oozed on. When I was getting ready to have my dragon tattoo put on my back, I went to the local thrift shop and bought several shirts for a couple bucks each. They all buttoned up rather than pulled over my head, and had busy enough patterns that if the shirt got oozed on, it wouldn’t be glaringly apparent. I wore those shirts while the healing process was going on. They were nice enough to wear to work, but for a couple bucks apiece I could consider them disposable if need be.
And the new tattoo is going to itch while it’s healing. Don’t scratch. 🙂 Seriously, you do not want to do anything that might pull off or crack the newly formed scab. Some people say to just slap the area lightly. That does work. You could also use a topical antiseptic/anaesthetic like Bactine Pain Relieving Antiseptic Spray.
Those are the most common and least dangerous health issues that newly tattooed people encounter. In the next post I’ll take up less common but more serious things to be concerned about.
photo credit: kitsune tsuki
photo credit: rbatina