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Tattoo Infection

What is a Tattoo infection?

This is when the tattoo you have just gotten becomes infected for a variety of reasons. The infection can range from minor and easy to take care of to life-threatening. When you get a tattoo it can be a very exciting experience especially if it is your first one. A tattoo is basically a wound on your body so the tattoo artist can inject permanent ink there to create a beautiful masterpiece.

Symptoms of a Tattoo Infection


This can be anything from a pink to red discoloration around your tattoo. Your tattoo may start to feel itchy which can be a sign of irritation. Gently put your clean hand over the area that appears inflamed to see if it feels warmer than the rest of your skin and if the heat appears to radiate which can signal a sign of a problem developing. It is normal to have a small amount of inflammation on a tattoo that is fresh but if you notice it increasing over the first couple of days you may have an infection.


A slight amount of swelling is typical but the swelling should not be excessive. Depending on how much swelling there is, if it is in the immediate area of the tattoo it can give your design a distorted and puffy appearance. If it is not treated the swelling can spread, which is a definite sign that the infection is there.


Depending on how long you have left the infection untreated your fever can range from light to severe. If it is above one hundred degrees you should seek medical help.


If is normal to have some tenderness or discomfort but if the initial pain does not go away after the first couple of days or if it gets worse this could be a sign that the tattoo is in the early stages of an infection and you should see your physician.


All new tattoos will have a little clear liquid with tiny spots of blood, which is part of the process of healing. If it starts to produce yellowish-green push there is definitely a problem and it needs to be checked. There may also be excessive bloody discharge.

Foul odor

Bad bacteria will give out a foul smell so if it starts to stink you need to have it checked.

Red streaks

If these go outward from the site of the original tattoo this is a serious symptom of blood poisoning and you should go for immediate medical attention.

Tattoo Infection Causes

There are many different reasons as to why a person’s tattoo becomes infected. Some of them include:

  • The number one reason for an infection is that the instructions given on how to care for your tattoo is not being properly followed.
  • The place where you got your tattoo is not clean.
  • The tattoo artist is not certified or trained.
  • The person who is giving you the tattoo does not sterilize their equipment, the needles used may not be clean, they do not wear gloves or wash their hands.
  • You are not letting your new tattoo get fresh air.
  • You could be wearing clothing that is irritating your tattoo and preventing it from healing. Your clothing could also be rubbing against your tattoo.
  • Because your skin is being pricked and bruised it is being exposed to the air and there could be bacteria in the air that gets into the tattoo while it is being done.

Tattoo Infection Treatment

If the tattoo is infected it becomes more susceptible to being attacked by many different viruses and bacteria so it is very important to treat the infection before it becomes a serious health problem and endangers your life. If you thing your tattoo may be infected you should first visit the tattoo artist to make sure if it is infected. They are experts at detecting infections and can tell you what you should do. If the infection is severe, or there are red streaks apparent then you need to seek medical attention immediately. It can be your physician or the emergency room. If it is a minor infection the tattoo artist may have some suggestions on how you can take care of the infection at home.

If the tattoo artist tells you that the tattoo is infected you should make an appointment with your physician so they can diagnose the infection and start you on the right treatment. One type of treatment is being given antibiotics. The physician may also have you apply topical ointments but do not use these ointments to prevent an infection because they will do the opposite. They will clog your skin and cause an infection. Keep the tattoo dry at all times while it is healing. When taking a shower try to avoid getting the infected area wet. Make sure that you are not exposing your infected tattoo to sunlight until it heals up.

Make sure that you are covering the infected tattoo so there will not be any chances of further growth of bacteria in the tattoo. Use sterile gauze with a light coating of topical or antibiotic cream on it and change it several times a day. Above all, keep it clean.

Tattoo Infection Pictures

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Tattoo Infection
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