Tattoos and permanent makeup have been used by
most cultures for centuries and recently have become very popular with both men
and women. Most people who have a tattoo do not develop any problems. Home
treatment can help speed healing and prevent problems.
A tattoo is
a series of puncture wounds that carry dye into the different levels of the
skin. At first, the tattoo may be swollen and there may be some crusting on the
surface. It is 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
Problems with tattoos include:
Be sure to consider 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. If you have not yet made a decision about tattooing, see the
Prevention section for information about tattooing.
tattoos, such as
henna tattoos (mehndi), may also cause problems. Although most of the
ingredients in temporary tattoos are safe for application to the skin, there
have been reports of allergic skin reactions (contact dermatitis) to the
ingredients in some of the tattoos. Henna tattoos are not approved for use by
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Henna is a plant-based dye and is
approved for use only as a hair dye.
Consumers and health professionals are encouraged to
report adverse reactions to tattoos and permanent
makeup, as well as reactions to temporary tattoos.
Check your symptoms to
decide if and when you should see a doctor.
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Symptoms of infection may
You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
If proper technique and clean instruments are not used, there
is a chance of getting an infectious disease when you get a tattoo or body
Symptoms of an infectious illness
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction
(anaphylaxis) may include:
A severe reaction can be life-threatening. If you have had a
bad allergic reaction to a substance before and are exposed to it again, treat
any symptoms as an emergency. Even if the symptoms are mild at first, they may
quickly become very severe.
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 did not receive
instructions for skin care of the tattoo site, try the following:
Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home
You can prevent problems from developing
at your tattoo site. Review the following guidelines and information before
making your decision to tattoo a part of your body.
To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.
You can help your
doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to
answer the following questions:
May 3, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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