Tattoos are extremely popular, and very personal. But can also be a little risky. Whether you’re getting your first tattoo or you have several already. Each time you get a new tattoo, its a different experience. Most tattoos will heal with no problems. While other times you can experience an infected tattoo. As its like any open wound, a tattoo can become infected when you do not administer the proper care. Infected tattoos can be a little scary. Especially if its your first tattoo, as you won’t know what to expect. When symptoms of a tattoo infection start, you won’t know if its part of the normal healing process. Therefore it’s best to know the signs of an infected tattoo, so that you can spot the infection before it progresses.
Tattoo infection symptoms
First of all, don’t worry if you have any of the following symptoms. As long as you catch the infection as soon as possible, it can be easy to treat. Here are some of the following tattoo infection symptoms to watch out for:
Extreme redness or irritation – After getting a tattoo, there is going to be some redness, and irritation. And your tattoo will feel hot when you touch it. Although this should decrease within a few days. If your tattoo starts looking bubbly, and bright red. Then this could be a sign of an infection, therefore you should go see your doctor as soon as possible.
Fever – This is one of the surest signs of an infection. If you have a temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or above after getting a tattoo, then consult with a doctor.
Pain – You will experience some pain during and after having a tattoo. However the pain should decrease after a few hours. Although if the pain gets worse, or you start getting shooting pains, then you should go see your doctor.
Swelling – Again a little swelling is normal after having a tattoo. However if it gets worse, or doesn’t decrease after a day of having it then seek medical attention as soon as possible.
An unusual odor – If you notice a very unusual smell coming from your tattoo then this could be a sign of an infection.
Discharge – If you have any pus coming from your tattoo then this is a sign of an infection. Therefore you need to seek medical attention straight away.
Red streaks or sores – If red streaks or sores develop on or around your tattoo then this could indicate an infection. Or something more serious like blood poisoning or a staph infection. Therefore if you get this then you should seek medical attention immediately.
Infected tattoos if not treated can potentially kill you. Therefore if you notice any of these symptoms. Or have any concerns, consult with a doctor to be on the safe side. To prevent any infection you need to make sure that you are taking the proper precautions to prevent it from starting. By simply keeping the area clean, and protected until it has properly healed. Also using antibiotic ointment can help keep any bacteria out. However do not wear it 24/7 because you need to give your tattoo oxygen as well. Tattoos may take days or weeks to heal depending on its size, the care, and any personal hereditary or health issues you may have.
How to treat an infected tattoo
If you have any signs of an infection, we recommend that you book an appointment with your doctor. However you can also speak to your tattoo artist as well. As most tattoo artists have been trained to look for infections, and will have seen hundreds of infected tattoos. Therefore they should be able to easily confirm, or reject the notion that your tattoo is infected. If they confirm that your tattoo is infected, or you still have concerns. You will need to book an appointment to see your doctor.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose the infection, and give you the proper tools for treatment. One of the treatments they may prescribe is antibiotics. As this is the most common way to treat infections. Your doctor may also order blood tests. However this depends on the circumstances under which you received the tattoo, and how bad the infection is.
If you have an infected tattoo confirmed by a doctor, then you can use topical ointments such as Bacitracin, A+D Ointment or Neosporin. Do not use topical ointments to prevent an infection, as this will only clog up your skin and possibly cause an infection.
Finally to treat an infected tattoo, you need to try to keep it dry at all times. As water will be your biggest enemy while your tattoo is trying to heal. Do not swim after having a tattoo or with an infection. And try to avoid getting the infected area wet when taking a shower or bath. Also never expose an infected tattoo to sunlight. And to prevent future skin infections, wear sunscreen all over your tattoo.