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
colour and texture. If you have not yet made a decision about tattooing, see the
Prevention section for information about tattooing.
Health Canada recommends that you avoid
black henna dyes and pastes for henna tattoos that contain
para-phenylenediamine (PPD) because of the risk of an allergic reaction. Health Canada encourages everyone to
report adverse reactions to permanent and temporary tattoos to their local health unit.
Check your symptoms to
decide if and when you should see a doctor.
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.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
You may need a tetanus shot depending
on how dirty the wound is and how long it has been since your last shot.
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
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and
illness. Some examples in adults are:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be
able to take care of this problem at home.
Based on your answers, you need
or other emergency services now.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind
of care you may need. These include:
Symptoms of infection may
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The
problem probably will not get better without medical care.
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:
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerMartin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Current as ofMay 27, 2016
Current as of:
May 27, 2016
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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