What is tattoo problems?

Tattoo Problems
Jump to

Tattoo problems: Overview

A tattoo is a series of puncture wounds that carry ink into the different levels of the skin. At first, the tattoo may be swollen. There may be some crusting on the surface. It's normal for the tattoo to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours. And it may ooze clear, yellow, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.

Problems with tattoos include:

  • Infection at the tattoo site. If you think you have an infection, call your doctor right away. Early treatment may prevent health problems or damage to your tattoo.
  • Minor skin reactions (contact dermatitis) or serious allergic reactions to the tattooing method or ink.
  • Scarring. This can include raised scar tissue (keloids).
  • The spread of infectious disease if a dirty method or equipment is used. Diseases include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and tetanus.

Be sure to think about all aspects of getting a tattoo. A tattoo should be considered permanent. Tattoo removal is hard and may cause scarring. It may not be possible to completely remove a tattoo and restore your normal skin color and texture.

Temporary tattoos, such as henna tattoos (mehndi), may also cause problems. Most of the ingredients in temporary tattoos are safe for application to the skin. But there have been reports of allergic skin reactions (contact dermatitis) to the ingredients in some of the tattoos.

Caring for yourself when you have a tattoo problem

Most minor swelling and redness (inflammation) from a tattoo can be treated at home. If your tattoo artist gave you instructions, follow them carefully. If you didn't get instructions for skin care of the tattoo site, try using these.

  • Stop any bleeding.

    Minimal bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure to the wound. It's normal for the tattoo site to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours and to ooze clear, yellow, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.

  • Apply a cold pack.

    This can help reduce swelling, bruising, or itching. Never apply ice directly to the skin. It can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric between the cold pack and the skin.

  • Take an antihistamine to treat hives and relieve itching.

    Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Don't use strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals. They can make itching worse.

  • Protect your tattoo with a bandage.

    If you think your tattoo might become dirty or irritated, cover it with a bandage. Follow these steps when using a bandage.

    • Apply a thin layer of a water-based cream or lotion to a nonstick bandage, such as Telfa.
    • Apply the nonstick bandage with the cream or lotion on it to the tattoo site. This will prevent the irritated skin from sticking to the bandage. Putting the cream or lotion on the bandage first will be less painful.
    • Leave the bandage off, if you used one, with the skin open to air whenever you can.

Where can you report problems with tattoos?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encourages everyone to report adverse reactions to permanent and temporary tattoos and permanent makeup to the FDA's MedWatch. This agency monitors problems caused by cosmetic products and ingredients, including color additives.

To report a problem, contact MedWatch:

  • By mail: MedWatch, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787
  • Online: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch/index.cfm?action=reporting.home

©2011-2024 Healthwise, Incorporated

The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.