Infected Tattoo: Pictures, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

People express their artistic side in various ways like getting a tattoo. For centuries, tattoos have been a part of several cultures. Today, this type of artworks has become popular.

A tattoo is a body make-up wherein the artist will make a series of puncture wounds so that the dye will permanently stay on the skin. For most people, they have a smooth and problem-free healing process. In some cases, problems may arise. A skin infection may occur due to various reasons. The good news, infected tattoo is treatable. One can prevent complications with immediate treatment.

What are the Causes of Infected Tattoo?

An infection occurs when harmful microorganisms are able to enter your body and reproduce. Since the tattooing process inflicts tiny wounds, the risk of microbial contamination is high. The following are the common causes of an infected tattoo.

  • Dirty Hands

Touching your tattoo with dirty hands is the most common cause of an infection. Microorganisms are everywhere. You may think that your hands are clean since there are no visible signs of dirt. However, germs are always present on your skin. It is best to wash your hands or use a sanitizer before touching your tattoo.

  • Moist

Microorganisms thrive and reproduce in a moist environment. Keeping your skin dry is necessary to avoid skin infections. Applying excessive amounts of creams or petroleum products may also cause a moist and oily skin, which attracts bacteria.

  • A Weak or Compromised Immune System

Several factors can weaken your immune system such as an unhealthy diet, getting insufficient sleep, and alcohol or drug abuse. The immune system is essential to fight infections. If it is weak, microorganisms can easily invade and wreck havoc inside your body.

  • Using Contaminated Equipment and Environment

Another most common cause of infected tattoo is the use of contaminated equipment such as needles and dyes. Furthermore, one may acquire diseases like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and tetanus through this. To avoid these problems, always opt for a reputable tattoo artist who has a clean studio. He should also practice sanitary techniques and use sterile equipment.

  • Opened Creams

Contamination may occur once a product is opened. You may not notice it, but the cream or petroleum you are using may contain microorganisms. When treating your new tattoo, it is best to use newly opened products to avoid infection.

  • Exercising

Exercising is good for the health. However, it can slow down your tattoo healing process. When you exercise, muscle development will only occur through stress and damage. These muscles will also need to heal in order to strengthen, which affects your ability to heal fast and fight an infection.

  • Other Diseases

An infection may also occur due to certain diseases like allergies. If you are allergic to the tattoo dye, it can lead to skin irritation and itchiness. It can aggravate the condition of your wound and an infection may develop.

Symptoms and Signs of Tattoo Infection

Skin infections will produce several signs and symptoms. If it appears around your tattoo, it signifies that there is an infection.

  • Fever

In any cases of an infection, there will be a fever. Most pathogenic or harmful microorganisms die if the body temperature is above the normal range. To ward off invading microorganisms, the body will raise its temperature. Thus, a fever is a sign that your body is fighting.

  • Skin Irritation and Itchiness

The first sign of a skin problem is irritation and itchiness, which lasts for a few days. These two skin problems can either be a sign of an allergic reaction or infection.

  • Blistering

Blistering occurs to prevent further damage to the underlying tissues of the skin. It appears as small or medium pockets filled with a clear fluid or pus.

  • Presence of Green or Yellow Pus

The presence of pus is another clear sign of an infection. The body produces leukocytes to combat an infection. Pus is the build-up or an accumulation of dead leukocytes. It may also produce an unpleasant odor.

  • Skin Inflammation and Pain

Inflammation is another clear sign of an infection. As the immune system releases white blood cells or leukocytes to combat the invading microorganisms, the body releases chemicals, which causes swelling, warmth, and redness. In most cases, the swelling will also produce pain and tenderness.

  • Presence of Red lines

If you notice some red lines around your tattoo, you should immediately seek medical attention. This is a sign of a serious medical condition known as sepsis or blood poisoning. It is a life-threatening case of an infection, which occurs when the bacteria is already in your bloodstream.

How to Treat an Infected Tattoo?

If you have an infection, you should do the following to avoid complications.

  • Visit your Tattoo Artist

Once you have noticed any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, you have to visit your tattoo artist immediately. Most tattoo artists have enough training and experience regarding infected tattoos. You can also check if the tattoo artist uses contaminated needles or if the studio is unsanitary. In most cases, the tattoo artist is liable if something unfortunate happened during the tattooing process. However, they are also liable if you have confirmed and proved that the studio is unclean.

  • Consult your Doctor

Once the tattoo artist confirmed that you have an infected tattoo, you have to consult your doctor for appropriate treatment. Keep in mind that some microorganisms are resistant to certain antibiotics. Your doctor will do some tests to identify the disease-causing microorganism and prescribe you with the right drug. He can also do additional tests to ensure that you have not acquired other diseases.

  • Medications

Doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat an infection. The most common antimicrobial ointments are bacitracin and Neosporin. He may also prescribe a steroid cream to reduce swelling. To ease your pain, you can take painkillers. An A+D ointment can also help in the healing process. It has vitamin A, D, and E, which acts as a protective barrier and moisturizer.

  • Aftercare Treatments

Cleaning your wound or the infected area regularly with water and a chemical-free soap is the number one method to treat infections and prevent complications. To avoid aggravating the condition, you should always keep the infected area dry and covered with sterile gauze. You should also avoid direct sunlight since the UV rays can easily burn the infected skin. Wearing loose clothes can offer comfort and help hasten the healing process.

An ice pack or cold compress is an excellent home remedy to relieve pain and swelling. You can apply it above the covered or protected wound to feel more comfortable.