6 Steps How to Treat an Infected Tattoo – Take in Consideration (2019)

Infected Tattoo

When you are thinking of getting a tattoo, an infected tattoo is one of the things that you never want to contemplate. However as bad as it may sound it happens more often than not and so you need to be very careful when getting inked and watch out for the symptoms that your tattoo is infected.

There are many types of infections that you can get from a tattoo, but skin infection, HIV, and Hepatitis C are the three kinds that one is more likely to get from a tattoo. Of the three, skin infection is the most prevalent type of infection.


The skin is the body’s first line of defense against bacterial infection, and so tattooing will open up holes for bacteria to enter your body. The art of tattooing involves puncturing thousands of tiny holes on the skin so as to deposit in one the skin for a permanent marking.

Besides from the holes created from tattooing certain types of ink are also a source of bacteria. If the tattoo is also not cleaned and maintained well during the healing stage, it is also likely to get infected.

Signs of an Infected Tattoo

  • Swelling:

Slight swelling in the tattoo is a typical occurrence since the skin is traumatized during the tattooing process. However, sometimes a tattoo can have excessive swelling around the vicinity of the tattoo.

The swelling will slowly start spreading to other parts of the body and when this happens it is a sign that your tattoo may be infected. Besides from giving your tattoo a puffy or distorted appearance if left untreated the swelling will result in a more complex medical condition.

  • Inflammation:

A pink or red coloration around the tattooed area is a sign of inflammation that in turn shows that your tattoo may be infected. The area may also feel itchy or prickly which are all signs of inflammation.

You can also feel the area with your hand if it is warmer than the rest of your body then there is some inflammation. Although some inflammation is normal after tattooing it should decrease in 48 hours but if it instead increases then this is a sign that there is a problem with the tattoo.

  • Fever:

A fever can range from mild to severe, and it is one of the common signs of infection in any part of the body. One can be said to have a fever anytime his body temperature rises past 99.

Infected Tattoo

  • Foul odor:

Besides from the typical smell of the ink used or that of the cream you use on the tattoo it should not have any other smell. A foul odor coming from a tattoo is a sign that it is infected.

Bad bacteria or anaerobic usually emit a fouls smell, and so you should be very keen with any odor coming from your tattoo.

  • Discharge from the tattoo:

A fresh tattoo will often discharge a clear serum with dashes of blood that is part of its natural healing process. Excessive bloody discharge or a yellowish-green puss is an indication that the tattoo is infected and hence medical attention is required.

  • Swelling of the lymph nodes:

Swollen lymph nodes are an indication that the body is fighting intruders in the form of bacteria. If you have been tattooed recently, then you should check the tattoo for other signs of infection as it is probably what is causing the lymph nodes to get swollen.

  • Excessive pain:

Getting a tattoo is a painful process by all definitions but there are certain parameters that the pain should not cross. For example, if you still fee excess pain a few days after getting the tattoo this might be a sign of an infection.

Infected Tattoo

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How to treat an infected tattoo

  • Step 1:

See a doctor/tattoo artist- If you have any signs of an infection or if you suspect that your tattoo may be infected you should first consult your tattoo artist. Due to their vast experience tattoo artists can identify an infection and recommend what you should do.

If this does not work, you should consult your doctor immediately.

  • Step 2:

Use topical ointment-If your tattoo is confirmed infected you should use a topical ointment to treat the infection. Some of the good topical ointments that you can use include Bacitracin and Neosporin.

However, you should only use an ointment if the tattoo is confirmed to be infected otherwise it will clog the pores and hence leading to an infection.

Infected Tattoo

  • Step 3:

Apply clean bandage- once you have applied the ointment use a clean bandage to cover the tattoo so that you can keep germs and other bacteria away. Ensure that the bandage is always clean by changing it on a daily basis and wash your hands thoroughly before handling or redressing your tattoo.

  • Step 4:

Apply a cold pack- To reduce itching and swelling you will need to use a cold pack on your infected tattoo. However, you should not place the ice directly on your skin but instead wrap it in a thin towel. Applying ice directly on your skin may harm your skin and in some cases cause tissue damage.

For maximum effectiveness, you should hold the ice on the tattoo for at least 15 minutes. Repeat this couple of times in a day and the swelling should go down in no time.

Infected Tattoo

  • Step 5:

Expose wound to air- Let the wind breathe as much as possible by exposing it to air. Rather than keeping it bandaged up exposing it will help it heal faster and keep the infected part dry.

  • Step 6:

Take some medication-As the wound is healing you should take some medications to reduce pain and bring down the swelling. There are many over the counter medications that can be taken for this purpose for example Aspirin and Ibuprofen.

Infected Tattoo

By following the above six steps, you should be able to get rid of the infection but remember to avoid getting the infected tattoo wet by protecting it when going out. You should also not use any lotions and creams on the infected skin as the chemicals in these products may make the infection worse.

You can use sunscreen if you are going out, but you should look for one that is made from natural ingredients.

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