How To Tell If A Tattoo Is Infected

Last Updated on June 21, 2021

Think your tattoo is infected? Let’s work it out

A well-designed tattoo is a sight for sore eyes. Especially after all the work that goes into getting it and all the pain you underwent. You know what is not a sight for sore eyes? An infected tattoo! The fear of getting your tattoo infected is real and sometimes unfortunately a part of the journey. And there are a few reasons as to why it can happen. But today we will help you with all the steps you need to take in order to avoid getting your tattoo infected, and what to do if it does.

pain in back tattoo

But first, how to tell if your tattoo is infected?

There are more than a few ways to tell if you have an infected tattoo. This occurs more with a fresh tattoo especially when you don’t do a good job at wrapping, protecting and cleaning it. By far the most common symptom you will see is a rash along with redness around the tattoo. However, it is also easy to get fooled here since the redness can also be just from the tattoo gun penetrating your skin during the process.

Here are some of the things you may experience if your tattoo is infected:

  • Areas of hardened tissue
  • Redness streaking around the area
  • Swelling of the tattoo and pus oozing out from it
  • Shivering and fever
  • Experience waves of cold and heat

If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to immediately consult your dermatologist and the artist you got the tattoo from. Your tattoo is infected!

How to avoid infections:

You know what they say right? Prevention is better than cure itself. And that is very true. You should do everything you can to avoid getting your fresh ink infected. First of which is to get your bandage or covering changed after 3 to 4 hours of getting the tattoo. Then wash your hands with fragrance-free antibacterial soap and gently wash the tattoo area. Dry it out softly by patting a paper towel over it. Do not rub harshly because it will irritate the skin.

After this, you need to let your skin dry on its own. Don’t aid this process in any way. Now you can apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly for example Vaseline. This will create a hydrophobic layer on top of your tattoo that will keep water away. Water is a medium for many bacterial infections to travel to your body. Hence the Vaseline will prevent that from happening.

Repeat the aforementioned process for at least 3 to 4 times a day for 4 to 5 days. Keep asking your artist for instructions as to what you should do at every stage.

You will start to notice a thin layer of skin coming off. It will feel very itchy but don’t scratch at this point as it will only make things worse. You can apply moisturizers that are medically safe for you to use. Do this to keep your skin hydrated, supple and soft.

If the redness persists, have a word with your dermatologist.

How to treat an infected tattoo?

Caring for yourself is totally something you can easily do at home. The key is to not panic. Panic will serve no one, it will only add to your worries and won’t let you function properly.

Here are a few things you can do at home to treat an infected tattoo:

  • Remember to never stop taking your medication midway if you are cured of your illness. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics for the infections, and you may start feeling better after a few days of taking it. Maybe even the very next day. But it is important that you complete the course. The bacteria will develop resistance against the antibiotic if you don’t complete it.
  • Your doctor will most likely tell you how to take care of the infected area. But in case you don’t know what to do, wash the tattoo with clean water at least 2 to 3 times a day. Do not use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide as it will only slow down the process of healing.
  • Covering your tattoo with thin Vaseline layer will protect it from other infections. It will also keep the skin soft and hydrated which is crucial for healing.
  • After applying Vaseline, cover your tattoo with a plastic wrap or a bandage depending on how big the tattoo is.
  • Before using any over-the-counter medication or cream, ask your doctor if it’s the right thing to do. You may find out that the ingredients will not cause any allergic reactions to you but that alone does not mean that it will help the situation.
  • If you are using medication, be safe when applying them and read the instructions properly. You don’t want to over-do anything.
  • The most important thing is to stay calm in all situations. Do not lose your cool, it is important to get you out of these scenarios.

When should you seek medical assistance?

Leaving it up to the professionals is always a great option to take. There should be no shame in doing that, especially when you have an infected tattoo. Seek your doctor’s help when:

  • The tattoo starts bleeding and you see blood soaking the bandage (Small quantity of blood coming out is normal)
  • Your tattoo and the area around it start to feel numb or if you start experiencing a tingling sensation
  • The skin turns pale yellow and loses natural color

You should pay close attention to your health when you get a tattoo, as you are technically opening a way for infections to get inside you if you don’t cover it up properly. Always remember, doctors are there to help you and they are your best option.

Don’t take this as a turndown from getting tattoos. body art is a nice way of expressing yourself and every tattoo you get holds a meaning. Maybe it highlights an important part of your life or something tough you went through and got over. So, wear your ink with pride and don’t stress over infections. You are now well equipped to handle them!