Becoming a common sight, tattoos can be found on the body of every fifth American. In fact, these are no more restricted to the fear of becoming controversial in the workplace. It is easy to find co-workers, bosses, or executive management sporting visible tattoos in many industries.

But if you think that the popularity of tattoos has eliminated the risks which come along, you need to give a second thought. Do you know to make a tattoo you skin will be pierced between 50 and 3,000 times a minute by a tattoo machine? And this is going to be painless. Well, the good thing in that you can ward off tattoo pain easily with the help of a numbing cream.

Basically, these consist of chemicals like lidocaine which are known to temporarily deaden the nerves in the skin. So it will prevent the nerves from registering any pain. It will desensitize the skin for several hours. Hence, you can get a tattoo without pain. But getting a tattoo does not involve the fear of pain merely. It also comprises of some major risks including infection.

What are tattoo infections?

As per as study, between 0.5 to 6 percent of adults who got tattooed later had to deal with infectious complications. While all tattoos can be slightly uncomfortable for few hours and day, however, if you ink causes severe symptoms or pain which tend to last for more than a few days or weeks, it requiresyour attention.

For this it is first important to know how to distinguish between regular discomfort and serious infection. This doesn’t have to be trick. Below are listed the different signs to detect tattoo infection.

  1. Relentless itching: When the tattoo becomes dry, it is obvious to expect some itchy sensations. For this you need to resist the urge to scratch. You can use a numbing cream again to keep your itch-free. While this is normal in the beginning but if the itching doesn’t go away gradually, something has to be done.You must consider visiting your dermatologist.
  2. Little scabbing: Even experts state that scabbing is common during healing procedure. However, if it starts appearing thick or crusty, you can spot infection sooner. To add more problems, these scabs might start bleeding due to the underlying infection which has to be treated immediately.
  3. Blistering: You cannot overlook this uncommon side-effect of getting a tattoo. It is considered to be one of the dangerous skin conditions. It is simply a sign of an annoying infection knocking your way.
  4. Rashes: These can occur in multiple colors, sizes, shapes, and textures. While in some cases rashes will appear smooth and red, for others these can be bit pimply or bumpy. When overlooked these can contribute more to skin irritation, and are the first of the indications toward an infection.
  5. Hot skin: Does your new tattooed skin feels heated? Your body takes time to heal naturally, and it is common for your skin to stay a little warm initially. It is due to boosted blood flow that leads to increase in temperature of the site. However, if this warmness doesn’t cool down in a few days, possibility isthat your tattoo got infected.
  6. Red streaks: If you have recently spotted some red lines on the site of your new tattoo, this can be a symptom of septicemia. These come in form of long red lines, streaking away from the design of your tattoo, and referred to as blood poisoning.
  7. Bleeding: A little bleeding is common in the initial stage. This usually slows down after the completion of the process. But if it impedes even after 2 to 3 days, and causes scabbing and clotting around the inked skin, it is an alarming situation. When not treated, your skin will start cracking and oozing.
  8. Lymph nodes swelling: The function of those tiny lymph nodes in your body is to keep impurities at bay. After getting tattooed, is these lymph nodes start swelling, infection can be there. Mostly you will find them in armpits and neck.
  9. Boils and pimples:Even if your skin is prone to pimple or acne, after getting tattooed this can be troubling. You need to worry a little more if you find a pimple discharging some pus. This can further lead to development of painful boils. So you must keep an eye on the kind of puss formation. Also it is worth mentioning that your new tattoo is likely to release a little ink, plasma or blood. Don’t confuse it with pus as this condition would not exceed 2 to 3 days.
  10. Unpleasant odor: It is not due to the tattoo or the ink which forms a reason of being smelly. But as per the dermatologists, it is due to the ooze or pus which leads to foul odor. If this is the case, you can go for an examination to confirm the infection.
  11. Fever and tiredness:Among all the symptoms of an infected tattoo, the one which is known by few is that it can cause high body temperature. This can be accompanied with lethargy. Hence, if you are dealing with constant tiredness, get in touch with your doctor for examination.

Now once you spot a symptom of your tattoo being infected, your next step needs to start with treatment at the earliest.

How to treat an infected tattoo?

If you suspect any of the above signs, first consult with your tattoo artist. Getting his advice in this context will help you find an effective treatment.

For minor bumps and rashes, problem can be managed at home. Application of an antibacterial ointment, maintain a proper cleaning routine, and rest can be helpful.

Similarly, for the persistent, or itchy, and painful bumps, which are typical sign of mycobacterial infection, you can go for antibiotic treatment and apply a numbing solution to prevent it from getting worse.

Remember, treatment depends on the cause when you are experiencing an infection. So there are chances that your doctor might take a sample of the tissue (biopsy). This will be done to find out if there are any bacteria or viruses causing the infection. After the inspection, doctors generally prescribe an antibiotic to help you get rid of the infection. In severe cases, this can be advised for several weeks or months. Now if the infection is caused by MRSA bacteria, use of antibiotics will not be beneficial. In worst cases, surgery might be required to repair your skin.

What if you begin to feel feverish or you are experiencing abnormal scab or ooze around the fresh inked area? These are dangerous signs of infection and require seeking a doctor’s help. Reason being if such infections are not treated soon enough, or properly, these can result into abscess.


Tattooing is one of the most popular form body modifications. Mostly, it results into beautiful, classic, and astounding piece of art. Just make sure it done by a licensed, reputable tattoo artist. Also, ensure that the salon setting is of best condition. Rest, with basic care and maintain a good hygiene will help your tattoo heal completely within a few weeks