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The Signs of an Infected Tattoo and How to Care for It

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Redness, swelling, heat, and other signs that a tattoo is infected.

Redness, swelling, heat, and other signs that a tattoo is infected.

How Long Should a Tattoo Hurt or Stay Red?

In general, it's normal to have swelling and redness around your tattoo for about 48 hours after you first get it done. But the pain, inflammation, and redness should get better with time, not worse.

How much pain and swelling you have depends on where the tattoo is, how big it is, and how detailed. Bigger tattoos, in general, will be more painful and have more swelling.

Check the chart below to see if your symptoms are normal or the sign of a problem. In this article, you'll also find information on how to take care of your new tattoo, why it might have gotten infected, and what to do next.

Note: If you have red lines coming from your tattoo or a high fever, see a doctor immediately.

Quick Reference: Infection Symptoms

SymptomDetailsWhat to Do

Spreading or increasing redness

Redness is normal right after getting a tattoo, but if it's increasing after 2-3 days, it could be a sign of a problem.

If it continues to increase after 2 days, have your tattoo artist check it out.

Increasing swelling (especially if it's uneven)

Similar to the above, swelling is normal right after getting a tattoo, but increasing swelling indicates trouble.

Ibuprofen, elevating the tattoo, and icing it can help reduce inflammation. If swelling increases after 2-3 days, have your artist check it out.

Heat coming off of the tattoo

Some heat is normal right after you get a tattoo. If it's increasing, it could be a problem.

Have your artist check it out after 2-3 days.

Off-white, brown, or greenish yellow discharge

This is pus.

Likely an infection. See a doctor.

Clear, clear yellow, or white discharge

This is normal in healing tattoos.

Follow normal aftercare procedures.

Foul smell

Sure sign of infection.

See a doctor.

Pustules, boils, or blisters

Likely sign of infection.

See a doctor.

Increasing pain or tenderness

Pain should decrease, not increase, in the days after you get a tattoo.

See your artist, unless you're in a lot of pain, then go straight to the doctor.

Swollen lymph nodes

Indicates infection, unless they're caused by another illness.

Consult your doctor.

Red lines

Definitely an infection.

Seek treatment immediately.

Fever or muscle aches

If not related to another illness, a definite sign of infection.

See a doctor.

Increasing scab size and scabs that turn green or yellow

Usually caused by increased discharge.

Possible sign of infection. See your tattoo artist.


Not an indicator of infection.

Follow normal aftercare instructions, unless accompanied by another symptom.


Could be an allergic reaction or a sign of healing; not a good indicator of infection unless it spreads and gets worse after a week.

If it doesn't go away, see your tattoo artist.


Not a good indicator of infection, though could indicate allergic reaction.

Follow normal aftercare instructions, unless accompanied by another symptom. If persistent, see your artist.

Aftercare for Your Tattoo

There are many different methods for caring for a new tattoo. You should always follow your artist's advice. In general, however, they follow some basic guidelines.

  1. Your tattoo is an open wound. Do everything possible to keep it from touching anything that might contaminate it.
  2. Always wash your hands before cleaning your tattoo.
  3. A few hours after you get your tattoo (following your artist's advice), remove the bandage and gently wash it with unscented antibacterial hand soap. Use lukewarm water and your hand to clean it. Do not scrub. Gently remove all ointment, blood, and any other residue.
  4. After washing and letting it air dry or pat it with a non-fluffy cloth, apply an ointment. Bacitracin, A+D Ointment, and Aquaphor are all recommended. Do not use vaseline or petroleum jelly. Only use a tiny amount, enough to leave a very thin, almost nonexistent layer. Too much ointment can keep the tattoo from healing. It should have a light sheen after you rub it in. Use the ointment for 3–5 days.
  5. Wash your tattoo two times a day, and always wash your hands before you do it!
  6. Between the third and fifth day, your tattoo will have formed a hard, thin layer, and it will begin to peel (like a sunburn). It might also be itchy. This is normal.
  7. At this point, switch from ointment to a non-scented lotion to keep the skin moisturized. Don't pick at the tattoo or at the scabs! Let them come off on their own. Don't apply too much lotion, either—just enough to rub into the skin.
  8. The majority of your healing should be over the course of two weeks, though your tattoo could take up to four weeks to heal.

Other Tips

  • Don't sleep on your tattoo.
  • Wear clean clothes and use clean sheets and towels.
  • Don't submerge it in water of any kind.
  • Don't irritate it with tight clothing.
  • Don't expose it to the sun.
  • Lay off the gym for a bit while your tattoo heals, especially if you'll be moving your tattoo around a lot.
  • Do not pick, scratch, itch, or touch it at all.
  • The instructions your artist gives you take precedence over everything else.

Other Health Concerns and How to Avoid Them

When getting a tattoo—whether it be your first, fifth, or fifteenth—you should be aware of potential health concerns. In addition to the risk of infection, you could potentially contract gangrene, syphilis, TB, hepatitis B or C, or HIV from infected needles and instruments.

Choose the Right Shop

When getting a tattoo, it is important that your tattoo artist use new, sterile needles and clean instruments for each client. Everything that comes into contact with human skin, blood, and fluids needs to be properly sterilized.

Even if you don't see blood on the needles or instruments, it doesn't mean that you can't contract a disease or infection from them. Your artist should make it clear that the needles they are using are completely sterile.

Also, be sure to tell your artist about any allergies that you have (especially to latex or nickel) so you can prevent having an allergic reaction. If you don't know if you're allergic to nickel or latex, test yourself.

Assuming you've already checked out your tattoo artist and the tattoo shop, the next thing you can do to prevent an infection is by carrying out proper aftercare.

Why'd My Tattoo Get Infected?

The most common reason for a tattoo getting infected is not following aftercare instructions. It's also possible that the artist or the artist's equipment somehow contaminated your tattoo.

Here are some other common causes:

  • Contamination from clothing or bedding
  • Bacteria or harsh chemicals
  • Weakened immune system
  • Presence of other illnesses or diseases
  • Improper aftercare

How to Tell If Your Tattoo Is Infected

Tattoo Infection Care (and When to See a Doctor)

If you think that you may have an infection in or around your new tattoo, you should consult your tattoo artist before it leads to more serious problems and complications. If you're positive it's an infection, go to a doctor. A doctor can properly diagnose an infection for you and, depending on the severity, may prescribe treatments stronger than the topical ointment.

Generally, a topical cream-based antibiotic will help heal the infection. You should never use an ointment because it can clog your skin and further worsen the infection. Only use a topical ointment if you know for a fact your tattoo is infected.

Remember to keep the tattoo dry. Do not swim or bathe with an infected tattoo because you can potentially worsen the infection.

Follow Your Artist or Doctor's Instructions

Confirm your suspicions with your tattoo artist or doctor and follow their instructions. Here's what they might tell you that you need to do:

  • Wash the tattoo with non-scented soap and clean water and let it air dry. Don't cover it up unless you need to.
  • Let the tattoo dry out. Do not use ointment of any kind. Bandage it with clean gauze only if you must do so to keep it from getting contaminated.
  • If bandaging, use sterile gauze and a light coating of topical cream. Change the bandage several times a day to keep it clean. Make sure the bandage is non-stick so you don't rip the skin when you take it off.
  • Your doctor might prescribe you oral antibiotics or nothing at all.

More Information About Infections

The infection may present at the surface of the tattoo or underneath the skin, deep within the wound. If the infection is deeper, you'll experience few of these symptoms except intense pain and possible swelling.

Since the infection can occur deep inside, you want to make sure the tattoo doesn't heal on top of it. If it does, you may experience more serious complications, such as an abscess. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bones, joints, and elsewhere in the body.

Increased Risks

If you have other diseases or health concerns, you may be at an increased risk for infection, even if you do take proper care of your new tattoo. If you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or an impaired immune system, you should consult a doctor immediately at the first signs of a problem since you are at greater risk for infection and complications.

Remember that you can decrease the risk of infection by following proper aftercare for cleaning and caring for a new tattoo.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2009 Whitney


Deborah Barfield on October 24, 2019:

I think my tattoo is infected

It's red around edge .very sore after a week

Ive got several tattoos never had this before .

walder on June 16, 2018:

i had a tat 4 months back, it shows its totally healed on the outside nut i have pain inside the skin both muscle and joint pains on the upper arm and around the shoulder. i dont know if the tat is effected or not cas its not showing on the out side. but when i hold it i feel it swollen inside. its hard to rotate my arm as it hurts so much. could it be any kind of effection eller any kind of serious disease. i had not gotten these pains before, it happened after gettin a tattoo and this is getting me sa worried. should i seek medical help or should i consult my tat artist. will be happy if i get some help thax in advance.

Lilly on January 21, 2018:

I had a tattoo 9 days ago on the top of my foot going up the front of my ankle and around it,I had to go to the doctors as it was angry and inflamed,he put me on antibiotics and it’s still not healed in the crease between my foot and ankle,it weeps,how do I go about getting it to heel ,I wash it 2/3 times a day and try not to walk about to much,I’m still on antibiotics for a few more days,just want it to heal ,the rest of it is fine.

Rachel on November 19, 2017:

Why would my tattoo hurt after heals but no redness or swelling

deborah on March 27, 2017:

I got my tattoo my my left leg a week ago had to go to Dr 2 days after getting the tattoo the Dr said i got cerlitius well here it is 4 days later it still sting like hell and my ankle swollen what can I do

WorriedGirl on March 21, 2017:


I got a tattoo in the area diagonal from my shoulder (front, right below my collarbone) about a year ago in the summer. However, not long after I felt stinging sensations on the tattoo itself​ during random occasions and now there are brown patches on random areas of the tattoo. At one point, I had 2-3 tiny blisters on it. Should I be worried? I really wanted to get a touch up as it is a water color a tattoo and the shading and color is now noticeably (to me at least) patchy but I am worried about irritating it more. Any idea what's wrong and if I can get a touch up? I can't stand having a patchy tattoo!

Thank you.

Laurie with the rose tatoo on March 26, 2016:

I have 2 tats that have been getting small irritating red bumps, these two tats were complete in the early 1990's never had a problem until recently. Could it be from early on set of menopause? I just don't know or understand both were done a tatoo parties would take a lot of research to find the artists. Anyway hope these bumps don't ruin them they have been a part of my life. Guess i will try some antibiotic cream any anyone going into menopause with same problem let me know ? Thank you

kim13 on December 19, 2012:

how do i see the feedback from comments?

Chris on December 19, 2012:

I got a cover up on my chest between my breasts it's my 27th and my first infection .... Very painful and i have been using triple antibiotic I don't think it's working no puss jus very red. It's been 5 days since I got it!!??? What to do ? Any advise

Amanda on November 01, 2012:

I got a tatt on my foot 2 years ago. It still hasn't healed, it's swollen and very itchy. It also scabs a lot. I have seen several different doctors and got several different treatments for it. Nothing is working. Any one have any ideas?

jared on August 14, 2012:

i had a tattoo a month ago and its itchy and kind off bubbly like the black ink is under the skin din't come out i go to the doctor already 2 times and din't work. and they give me a medicine like lotion and not work at all. can you help me what can i do.

moniqua2010 on July 11, 2012:

I got a tat 3 nights ago and its very swollen like very and has like red little dots like bruising my tat is on my forearm the bottom near my wrist is fine but up my arm is where its worse and its really hot too I've been using vaseline is that bad and it hurts to....

amy618 on May 13, 2012:

I got a tat last Sunday on my lower claf it red around it and sticky on the tattoo clear with some red ooz is coming out of it it still hurts a little to touch .how do I know if its in fected ??? Need help asap

Sammy on May 05, 2012:

Ok so o jusg got a cover up done recently its right above my ankle I got it almost three days ago and now it is red hot burning sensAtion and bubbly it hurts to walk and im freaking out pleazs help

aida garcia on May 04, 2012:

i just got a tattoo and there are little white bubbles coming out in different areas of the that a sign of an infection??

meganakers8805 on April 26, 2012:

I got my first tattoo 6 days ago and it says Faith on the top of my foot.. It is a little red around the tat but the pain is what im worried about.. It is very bad when i first stand up or start walking and gets better after pressure is on it until i lift my leg up or something.. but when i layin down or prop it up there is no pain at all just if u touch it.. its not hot 2 the touch and doesn't itch after 6days.. What does this mean?????

jasmin on March 13, 2012:

hey i got a tattoo on saturday it's a lil swollen no pain its not red at all but today it started to discharge a yellow fluid wat does tat mean can any one tell me

francis18 on March 05, 2012:

hey everyone, this article is very informative but i wanted to know, just an hour again i realized that there is like a caving, so to say, on one of the wings of my tattoo. it is somewhat red around that area, and a little puffy (a tiny bit more then the other part of the tattoo which is puffy, but it doesn't hurt at all, i wanted to no if this sounds like it can be infected. i am a hypercondriac and i always thing i have something, so can someone please tell me if it is in my head again or do i really have a infection,

P.S. going to go back to artist tomorrow to asks him as well

Stacy on March 04, 2012:

Sorry, I had an after thought...

Little red bumps around your new tattoo usually mean you are using a cream too heavy for your skin which is clogging the hair follicles, or your applying too often. You have 2 choices, change creams or ignore it. This usually goes away when you stop using that ointment.

And the MOST important thing you can do when taking care of a new tattoo is to wash your hands before you touch it. The skin is open, broken, and fragile. There is no point in introducing new bacteria to an already vulnerable area. And no, it does not matter if your putting Neosporin on it. If your hands are dirty the nastiness will find a way in.

Stacy on March 04, 2012:

Ok guys, here's the deal. I have several tattoos, so many hours of work I can't even tell you how long I've sat. I'm also in the medical profession. This article is actually very good; however, for all those in doubt, here ya go...

Clear fluid draining from a new tattoo is normal. It is a combination of white blood cells, plasma, and other body fluids. This happens when there is trauma and open areas to the skin. It is the body's natural defense system. This is good...your immune system is working!! It also feels sticky. Don't worry about that either. It your new tattoo is draining anything that has a color whether it is yellow, green, red, or pink (just to name a few) GO TO YOUR DOCTOR! Swelling is also normal. The body produces histamine which causes swelling to injury. A tattoo is an injury. If the body part which is swelling is overworked it will swell. Rest, ice, compression, and elevation help with selling. If the swelling does not go away...go to your doctor!! Any type of smell is not normal. If you smell any type of odor coming from your tattoo...Go to your doctor!! Pain is normal, pain means don't mess with that area. Pain is also a natural defense mechanism. If the pain is too intense for you or lasts too long...Go to your doctor!! And last but certainly not least, if you think something is wrong have it looked at. Your tattoo artist or your doctor can tell you if something is not right. Always listen to your instincts, they have saved the human race for thousands of years and are usually right one. Always, always, always listen to your instincts!!! You know when something is not right.

Sorry for the lecture. Take care of your art.

DAn on March 01, 2012:

sometimes can be a cheap ink that cause swelling and tattoo to be red shore or tattoo to deep in skin

Samantha on February 27, 2012:

I had gotten a new tattoo only four days ago the area is still a little tender to the touch but my main concern is one area that had been done with a different needed that didn't work properly when the tattooist was doing the colouring it looks like is had gone in a little deep into the skin then what it was supposed to have been its around this area that its red and sore. There is no swelling but I would like to know if it should still heal properly even when I clean daily.

steve on September 16, 2011:

had tattoo last week it did not bleed at all know its all inflamed and puss coming out know any ideas people

grimzyy on August 31, 2011:

ok so i got my tattoo last friday and im a lil worried. its peeling nd theirs two spots were it hurts a lil its a big tattoo on my forarm but theirs no uzzing or blisters or fever

any sggestions? what do you think it is?

Jessica on August 23, 2011:

I got a tattoo 3 days ago on my ankle it is not swollen but it burns, and it hurts when I walk on that leg. Is that normal?

Quinn on July 27, 2011:

I got my tattoo about 5 days ago and it has been healing well, however there is one tiny spot that is slightly red, but not hot or painful. Is this an infection?

yari on July 21, 2011:

Well recently maybe 3 days ago my grandfather got a tattoo on his arm the first of a p was peeling and bleeding and a art was turning green I don't know if its serious but I'm worried his son did it for him but he cleans the tip machine with soap and water stupid please help with advice oh and he's planning to do my fiancé will he catch an infection too. Help he does it Monday.

shannon nettrouer on July 21, 2011:

I got a tattoo on my foot with a butterfly and stars around it..My foot is swollen long will that last? there is no pain at all just that normal?

maggie on July 07, 2011:

hey i just got a tattoo its not finished yet on my lower back a skull wings .... and i got like red spots all over my back what should i do it hurts so bad

Kerry on July 04, 2011:

Just had tattoo done whilst on holiday ended up in hospital as soon as i got back to the UK, so just a litte warning for people!

Katherine on May 31, 2011:

The K scap came off last night & it's like a scarring of initial K as u can see the pink flesh. My tattoo artist told me to continue with lotion till it heal. Can the same area be retouch or will it be scar?

Heather on May 31, 2011:

Well i got ma tattoo a week ago and it was all fine i didn't know if getting in a pool was ok either way i got in da pool it faded away and im getting red itchy spots around it is dat normaland should i get it shaded in soon or let it heal completely because part of the heart on ma ankle hasn't really pealed???

Please tell me what to do thanks

Claire on May 31, 2011:

Hi i got a tattoo Saturday on my finger {breast cancer ribbon}I know it would be sore but it as popped at first with a pink discharge now it is a yellow/green colour? It is dry on top,tender to touch yet keeps popping. Is this normal? Or is it a common thing to happen because of the area I've had it done? But the real question I have is , do you think it would of oozed the colour out in which case i would have to get re-done?? This is not my first tattoo. Any advise would be most grateful thanks

Katherine on May 31, 2011:

I got my tattoo done 3 weeks ago on my ankle-2 paw prints & a K. Initial week it swelled, tender, red n itch. The scab on the paws (black ink) came off 1 weeks ago but the K (red ink) forms a very thick scab that seem struck. A little peel off n it revealed the pink flesh. What should I do? I get conflicting views... To keep applying cream to keep it most so the scab will come off eventually & not to apply cos it will form a thicker scab instead.

samantha on May 19, 2011:

I just got my third tattoo and inch above my ankle bone a week ago. The day after I got it I had a table fall on my leg in that exact spot soo it looked a little bruised. I have been taking care of it just like I did my other tattoos. Its been itching a lot which I know is usually associated with healing but around some of the thicker parts its still a little red. Do yyou think its just cause its soo deep or could I have an infection?

Will on May 16, 2011:

Hey guys and girls, just got my first tattoo 2 days ago, the whole tattoo seems to be fine apart from 1 area of shadin, it's gone from the black and grey that it was to a gree soft gooey area, just wonderin if anyone can shed some light on this. would be really helpful

Amy on April 19, 2011:

Seriously need help, got tattoo 5 days ago its really swollen blistered and oozing sticky goo, its not remotely scabby its wet all the time. My foots so sore and tender. Help!

Amber Michelle Bernal on April 10, 2011:

I got my tattoo yesterday what do i do to it while i sleep

wendy on March 29, 2011:

Help had my 3rd tat done last August one on my wrist and one on my ankle, having loads of trouble now, all healed up great but about 3 months later both tats started to swell and scab over they look like bubbles under the skin very sore and itchy went to the dermatologist, who was no help at all just said I should have them lasered which is a big no no, not sure what to do now, the place i had them done is clean and other tatt was no problem the only thing i can think of is i am on steroids for PMR could this have caused this and how can i fix this...

Dan on March 24, 2011:

I have a tattoo but had a touch up on it and on the bottom below the T-shirt mark I have a few humps under the skin where I have had the touch up do you think it may have been the sun or do you think it infected ??????

Valkyrie on March 05, 2011:

Thanks for the info, really helpful and to the point.

kas on February 23, 2011:

Ok so I got my tattoo 4 days ago on my back near my neck and in the middle on my spine. I have noticed when I shower I still can't put soap on it without it burning to the point where I want to cry. Also its beens really red around the tattoo and I noticed that its burning severely. Wat should I do?

tattoobill on February 18, 2011:

for the guy who said green shadow: that's a blowout, not an infection, get a new tattoo artist lmao

sue on February 04, 2011:

i have just been reading the post and wondered if anyone still felt pain in the foot after a year?

again its the red part of my tattoo that feels very sore the two red stars are swollen but the others are healed and look good , im not sure the doctor would be able to do anything about it .

Flo on January 19, 2011:

I got a tattoo on my leg about 2 years ago. The tattooist gave me a tubed antibiotic to apply daily. I did all that and still got an infection. Went to see a dermatologist who I believed injected the tattoo area with a painkiller but after a day the pain returned. I went to see a different dermatologist who after some visits and treatments decided to remove the tattoo in a very unorthodox way. He literally scraped it and left holes. The agony was unbelievable. I chose to visit another dermatologist who was appalled at what his colleague had done but successfully treated the wound. What I have now cannot be called a tattoo but an imitation (the ink is here and there including scarring). However, I'd like to have the same area re-tattooed mainly to cover the scarring. Do you think this is wise?

vikki1988 on January 06, 2011:

I got a tattoo bout 5 days ago, my first 1 i had it done on the left outside calf bout an inch above the ankle, i had to go to hospital, as my foot and leg blew up like a ballon i was in absoloute agony, i have to go bk to get my blood checked as i had suspected sceptacemia, i still might be admitted to hospital again,(arrgghh) but the hospital are treating it as a chemical burn, as the red colouring in my tattoo has literally burnt my skin bk to flesh, they don't understand how this could happen, as wen i went bk to tattooist, he has all the lagitamate equipment and using high profile scream ink,he has been checked and cleared, has any1 else had a simlar reaction to me..i just dont understand how this could happen!!!!!

kara on January 05, 2011:

I just recently got a tattoo about a week ago. I have been noticing it's getting very itchy and now there are red dots around the top part of it. I have been putting a&d oinment on it plus lotion but the dots are still there. Im scared it is infected. Anyone have possible help?

maria 12356 on January 03, 2011:

I got my 4th tattoo last Wednesday on my wrist,it ewas swollen and red for a couple days ,the swelling and redness went away but when my tattooed peeled,there were sores on my tattoo,,is my tattoo infected????

selftitle on October 25, 2010:

i just got a tat a week ago and it healed OK but one part of the tat which has heavy shading still hurts. I'm getting a white liquid coming out nothing crazy but is that normal and that spot is the only spot that hurts.

justin on October 14, 2010:

i just got a tat 3 nights ago and now been cleaning it and moisturizing it and now its red around it an kinda burns when i moisturize it. is it infected?

Shawty22 on October 07, 2010:

Hi I just got my tatty Saturday and it's been 6 days now I was told to use bio oil and well I think my skin reacting to it my tatty I have little white pimple things all on my arm and it's hella ichy and I have a big cross soo theirs a lot of ink was done on my arm now should I worry or is this normal

Juicylucy on October 06, 2010:

I have 9 tattoo's now and I have just had one done on my foot. Despite what I read beforehand about the foot being super painful, I was very surprised that it wasn't that bad!! This being said I'm finding that it isn't healing as quickly as my other tattoo's but the foot isn't an area of the body that can be rested too easily especially when you have to work! Mine is still red in places and a tiny bit tender but it was only done 5 days ago! My advice to anyone with a new tattoo is keep it clean, keep it dry, use a good lightweight aftercare lotion on it ( I find Tattoo Goo Brilliant) and try not to rub, itch or pick the tattoo. If you lose colour it is only more painful to get it redone due to being scar tissue!!

Yena Williams from California on September 21, 2010:

See, this is why I am deathly afraid of tattoos! This and the feeling of such "permanent" doom!

Great hub!

lmv on September 20, 2010:

just got my 3nd tattoo 2 weeks ago now i got some kind of infection

ashley on September 16, 2010:

i got some kanji covered up with a flower design on my right calf two days ago. he did the outline and color in 2hrs w/no breaks. this has been my 13th tattoo or so. my lower calf is way swollen and so is my foot but the tattoo looks completely normal. im freaking out. is this normal as this has never happened w/any other tattoo!

MiAnGeL on September 03, 2010:

hey whitney05

yes i just got my 1st tattoo day before yesterday and its a shooting star on my shoulder one of my satr's hurts its red and its pusing clear liquid is it infected i been put A&D ointment on it but yesterday this little girl i know want to see it so i showed her and she touch it so is it infected it hurt like crazy please help me

RamandaPanda on August 18, 2010:

Hey guys :)

I got my fourth tattoo five days ago and I have been treating it the same as my last tattoos that have healed beautifully. For the most part, the tattoo is healing as expected and just getting to the flaky stage. There has been some scabbing on hard lines and hard black, but this has been normal for my tattoos in the past. The only issue I am having with this piece is that there is one spot in the tattoo that is still a bit painful and when I was washing the tattoo, a tiny bit of the scav flaked of, only to reveal a sticky but clear fluid. I haven't seen this in any of my previous tattoos. Again, i'm using the treatment methods that have worked for me... The only difference is that I work in the restaurant business now... And I make sure to keep my tat clean there. I really hope it isn't infected... And if it is, what can I do and what are the potential damages to the tattoo? It's an extremely awesome piece and I really don't want it to go wrong.

Drew on August 18, 2010:

Yeah so I #%@%ed up and got a piece done by an inexperienced tattooist while I was in afghanistan, needless to say, it is infected quite badly - i've been trying to keep it clean but after scrubbing it and pouring peroxide on it, it continues to ooze this yellowish discharge. I've started taking antibiotics (doxycycline) to see if it will help.... I probably should have gone to the base hospital but I didn't. Poor arm, and shame on me for being incompetent.

symtom77 on August 16, 2010:

As for the swelling you may have an ink allergy. I know that any ink with red pigment in it causes me to swell and have pain till it heals properly. I usually start taking benedryl before and after any tat I get that has red in it. It helps some but not completely. Hope that's helpful.

symtom77 on August 16, 2010:

@Emmz6 sound like your artist may have got to close to the bone and caused the line to blow out. It's a common mistake on areas with little flesh like the wrist, foot, fingers. I know I'm guilty of it. The green-grey shadow may fade some but won't go away. If it bothers you think about some shading around the area.

uh oh on August 10, 2010:

hi i got my tats two days ago on the insides of my arms, there is no pain but they are intensly hot all the time, is this a sign of infection?

tiff33 on July 30, 2010:

I got my first tattoo two days ago on my foot, very painfull. I can bearly walk on my leg. Is this a normal reaction due to the site?

K808 on July 28, 2010:

I got a tattoo done from my shoulder to my elbow, on the outside of my arm. It was fine afterwards, and two days later it became red and swollen and my arm is swollen to my wrist. It doesn't hurt at all and I have antibiotics from the doctor. I hear that having lots of ink on one place can cause the swelling and redness, but its it normal for it to swollen that far down my arm?

Jimmy Z. on July 10, 2010:

I was tattooed by an artist two weeks ago on the inner section of my forearm, and developed scar tissue within the tattoo. Being that I dispised the scarred tattoo, I contacted another artist to place a cover-up over the scarred tattoo. The artist had trouble setting the ink in; going over the scarred tattoo three to four times before finishing. It's been three days and forearm is swollen and painful when arm is hanging next to the side of my body. The tattoo is also oozing blood and ink. It's also oozing a yellow/clearish substance in areas the artist used gray. Is my tattoo infected? Or, is this the result of working over a scarred tattoo?

Helen on June 12, 2010:

I just got my second tattoo which is a cluster of starfish. One is not healing well at all. In fact, it has burned with intense pain for over a week. I couldn't even move that area without wanting to scream. The pain is better but now it has a very large blue scab on it that hasn't gotten better in 3 days. Today I noticed a crack in it and it looks like gooey red in the crack. I didn't know what else to do so I put a little neosporin just in the crack. Should I see a doctor? My other 2 starfish are healing just fine...

Tracey on June 10, 2010:

I got a resent tattoo redone and part of it was a cover up of my ex-husbands name. the first time i got this tattoo the hearts were colored in red and they got infected and never was red after it healed. when i went this past saturday (6-5-10) they colored it back in with red. Now it is super sore and a little red around the hearts again and only the red hearts have scabs over them. I was just wondering if they could be infected?

Lotus on June 06, 2010:

It's also on my shoulder. I dunno if that makes a difference or not but I don't think that's a particularly sensitive area for most people... and it's only part of the tattoo

Lotus on June 06, 2010:

I just got a tattoo a few days ago and there's just one part that's sort of red... and since the rest of the tattoo started peeling I was told that was the point to use lotion, but when I put it on the part that seemed red stung a little... at first I thought it was the ink because it's a part that's more in shadow and it's not swollen or oozing but I'm not so sure now... I'm thinking I might see a doctor tomorrow and ask but do you think it's infected?

kerrip8070 on June 02, 2010:

I got my tattoo above my left breast on Saturday (today is Wednesday). I'm a little surprised that it is sluffing so much. The last one on my back healed with no problems and very little sluffing. I'm washing it about every 8 hours with mild soap and using fragrance-free mild lotion. It still hurts terribly and there seems to be a CRATER at the bottom. The tat is only about 2 1/2 inches tall and all black. Any ideas??

conner91 on June 02, 2010:

i got a tattoo 2 days ago and its really red around the shading, there are also a couple of small green scabs on it....any advice?

jjmerc on May 28, 2010:

I just got a tattoo 5 days ago n it is very red and was very swollen its on top of my foot n my whole foot n ankle were swollen. well now it is still very red n sore but it looks like the tattoo has sunk below the skin line. i have6 othe tattoos this has never happen b4 same guy same parlor every time. that day i got 2 other cover ups on back of neck n lower back both of those r great. but this foot is freaking me out....any advise

honeyvoiced1 on May 28, 2010:

Thanx Whitney I appreciate the info. Takes a load off for sure.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 28, 2010:

Sometimes ankle/calf tattoos can be more painful, to include the recovery. Just keep a close eye on it. I have known people who got an ankle/calf tattoo and have had trouble walking for a week afterward. You really need to keep it moisturized. If it continues, definitely go to another artist to have someone else look at it.

honeyvoiced1 on May 27, 2010:

Hi all, Got another tat just over a week ago. This 1 is on my outside lower claf about an inch above the ankle bone. Now my ankle and foot are very very swollen, there is significant pain when none of my others hurt like this. I have a full circle ankle tat on the other leg and had zero swelling. It's currently peeling like a sunburn, yet none of my others scabbed or peeled. Same shop, same artist. What do you think is up? Anyone?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 25, 2010:

Soreness will vary on location and person. I have never had any oozing from a healthy, healing tattoo. Oozing is sometimes associated with healing, but it depends. Redness is the irritation, each person is different as for how long it stays red and tender.

Chelsea on May 24, 2010:

I just got my first tattoo 6 days ago. It's on my inner leg about 2 inches above my ankle. Today it is very tender, almost feels like it's burning. It's a little red around it, and is still oozing the clear fluid that it has been since day one (I think they said it was white blood cells?) The colored parts look like they have little tiny red dots in them.

Is this an infection? Should it be this tender and sore after 6 days? It's just a little butterfly.

tink on May 23, 2010:

i just got my fifthteen tatttoo and this one had a lil rash around it but its gone now and now it has 2 bumps which the one green stuff came out when i squeezed it and now i have another one that is on the tattoo and green stuff can out when i squeezed it wat do u think is wrong?? is it infected?? i got it almost a month ago it will be a month on the first

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 13, 2010:

It's possible that the artist dug too deep at that area, causing the irritation. It definitely sounds infected. You'll want to keep the tattoo clean. Apply a light coat of A&D. And, keep the tattoo as dry as possible.

If the tattoo doesn't heal up or show any sign of improvement, you'll probably have to see a doctor.

Amber on May 12, 2010:

I got my 5th tattoo six days ago. It is fairly large most of my forearm. All black. It is actually a peacock feather. The past three days if it gets wet it oozes a little. Lightly creamy. Very red directly around the "eye" of the feather but the artist did go over that spot 3 or 4 times to make sure the ink took. I have been letting it dry heal the past two days and taking aspirin to take down any swelling. It is very warm and all websites say that points to infection. Besides going to a DR. what can I do?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 12, 2010:

Not all tattoo artists are good. It could have been that the artist pressed too hard when tattooing.

DravenRedXIII on May 12, 2010:

I got my 11th tattoo this past Friday at a tattoo convention and ever since then my left hand has been swollen since. I was told that my whole arm and hand was swollen really bad Sunday and I could tell my hand was, as far as I can tell the tattoo has some red irritation surrounding it but it is really hot when I touch it. This is the 1st time it's ever happened before and I've gone to 3 tattoo con's before this one.

sophie on May 11, 2010:

Thanks for your advice, probably shouldn't have gone for something so big for my first tattoo. I'll keep an eye on it, it's also quite hot to the touch sometimes but not all the time. I'm probably just worrying over nothing, I'll keep an eye on it and then see a doctor if it does not improve by the weekend. Thanks again

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 11, 2010:

Just sounds like a new tattoo to me. Sometimes feet can be sensitive. I have known a few people who have gotten ankle tattoos and experienced redness, swelling, and soreness for weeks. Just keep an eye on it.

sophie on May 11, 2010:

I got my first tattoo 4 days ago, it is swollen and red and hurts quite a lot. It's across my whole foot so I expected some swelling but I do not know if it is infected. It isn't leaking anything but the redness is still there and the swelling has only gone down slightly. Do you think it sounds infected ro shall I wait a while and see if it improves?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 15, 2010:

Sometimes it can take time for the body to adjust if there is a reaction with something. The doctor will be able to further diagnose the problem, but it does sound like some sort of reaction.

aaron smith on April 15, 2010:

I have had my first tattoo done two weeks ago about three days after i started coming out in a rash with small yellow heads on everyone i have spoken to says they have never saw anything like it i went back to the tattoo shop and they said it was just the cream i was using but'im not sure as it hasn't cleared yet and i haven't used the cream for over a week. i have made an appointment to see my doctor this week should i be worried !!!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 15, 2010:

I've heard fingers can remain a little sore and red longer than some other areas. A&D isn't a treatment or cure. It's a vitamin lotion or ointment to aid healing. If you're expecting immediately healing from a&d it's not going to work that way. It's a product to help supply vitamins to the healing area and to keep it moisturized.

ms vane on April 14, 2010:

omg i got my 3rd tattoo exactly a week ago & its a diamond on my finger..but at the tip of it its still red & swollen its dtill kinda sore too? idk if its infected or not ive been usin a&d how long til i kno its wrkng?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 14, 2010:

If it's scarring, you can try the techniques on the link I've added below.

Depending on your body and how it heals, scarring can vary. Trauma can affect a tattoo long after the initial tattoo. I'm not sure if scarring is the case here, but in a way it sounds like it.

Carol on April 14, 2010:

I had my eye brows tattoo over 3 years ago. This past month they developed scar tissue (one more so than the other). No redness but a little tenderness. The tattoo has raised so I don't know if it is swollen or just scar tissue. Is it common that this would happen so long after the procedure? Would you recommend a remedy?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 12, 2010:

I am not really sure, as swelling and redness can be normal. I'm not sure about the lump. Definitely let us know what the doctor says.

Liznalisa on April 10, 2010:

I got my 2nd tattoo 6 days ago its a moon on my wrist. Im quite worried about it because it is a bit swollen and red but very sore and its feels like there is a "lump" under the tattoo beneath the skin I had no after affects from my 1st tattoo but I got this one in a different shop. I am going to the doctor on Tues, Is there I can do to help it in the mean-time?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 03, 2010:

Since you just got the tattoo, it's normal to be sore and a little red. Clean it in the shower and keep it moisturized.

amanda on April 02, 2010:

i just got a new has been 6 years since my last one...i went to a shop...very clean,...sterile..but its on my wrist ..its a really red ans sore.....but its hasn't even been 2 days ...i should prob give it some time and see if gets better..tell me what u think..thanks

Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 30, 2010:

Could it be the ink? It is hard to tell with the description of a green shadow. If it's not swollen, pussy, red, or have any of the other signs listed above, it's not swollen. It could just be your skin and how it healed.

Emmz6 on March 30, 2010:

Hey, I got my 3rd tattoo about 5months ago, it's a music note on my wrist with a lot of colour and detail, but all around it there's like a green shadow under my skin... It definitely doesn't look normal but not sore or swollen. Any one know eat I should do?

qual7868 from Canada on May 08, 2009:

Great hub thanks for the share...I have some tattoo hubs but never got into how to treat infection.

Travis Pyle from Vineland, New Jersey on April 23, 2009:

Ive never had a tattoo but I want one. maybe of a dragon or a vampire i dont know

richboy32 on April 14, 2009:

Hello Whitney05;

I want to thank you so very much for your information about Tattoo Infection I think we should be more awear of the risk of getting tattoos