You may want some body art for self-expression, to memorialize a special someone who died, or for a number of other reasons. Getting a tattoo is a big decision since it is permanent and expensive. If you want to get one safely, avoid problems, and keep it vibrant, keep reading for some useful tips.
Choosing a Tattoo Artist
The use of improper tattoo techniques and habits can pose serious health risks to you, so you will want to avoid tattoo artists who have not been trained adequately. Amateur artists may unintentionally spread serious diseases to their customers, and these can include:
Non-tuberculous Mycobacterial (NTM) skin infections,
Hepatitis B or C,
- And many more communicable diseases.
Also, an amateur may use the wrong needles (or cheap dull ones) for various parts of the tattoo which could result in tearing of the flesh.
A expertly applied tattoo will cost, but it is worth it. A properly trained tattoo artist will:
Have completed an apprenticeship with another experienced tattoo artist, while working in a shop.
Have taken an intensive class on aseptic techniques and received certification from an approved training organization. (Local health departments usually have requirements in this regard.)
Use a medical grade autoclave device to sterilize equipment.
Use disposable gloves.
Rarely dilute inks and only use sterile water when doing so.
Use only professional tattooing ink from good sources.
Keep the area being tattooed clean and not do anything to introduce infection into it.
Will rarely, if ever, tattoo someone in a home environment because of the risk of disease transmission.
If you have a skin condition such as eczema, psoriasis, or the tendency to develop keloids, you will want to consult with a dermatologist before being inked. Ink should never be applied on a mole.
Keeping the Tattoo Vibrant
A lot of tattoo artists will recommend you apply vitamin D ointment on the tattoo several times a day until it heals. Avoid putting anything with a petroleum base on it including antibacterial gels/creams, if at all possible, because these will reduce a tattoo's clarity and vibrancy.
After your tattoo has healed, you will want to apply sunscreen to your skin and tattoo twenty minutes before spending a lot of time outside since ultraviolet light can cause some inks to fade. The best sunscreen will provide protection from both UVA and UVB rays, have a SPF of 30 or higher, and be water resistant.
Dealing with Problems
If you develop a minor problem with a tattoo, you can contact the tattoo artist for suggestions. Sometimes people have reactions to UV light on tattooed skin, so you may need to cover your tattoo upon going out, and you will also need to avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.
You should be aware that there is some growing concern about tattoo ink because the newer ones contain materials that were never meant to be used on human skin. Plastic based pigments and other possibly toxic substances are being used because they are more permanent and colorfast.
At present, the FDA chooses not to regulate the composition of the inks, but will investigate only if a complaint has been made. Also, not only do you need to be concerned about the chemicals in them, but the fact that inks can also be contaminated with bacteria, and cause infections.
If you experience any moderate to severe skin reactions or skin changes, you will need to see a dermatologist right away, even if it has been some time since you have had the tattoo. A doctor can determine if you have a skin disease or are developing a cancerous condition, and treat it appropriately.
If you want to remove a tattoo safely, a dermatologist can also help you with that. There are laser treatments available that break the ink into smaller particles which will be eliminated by your body. It may be that the tattoo can be removed completely or faded enough to be much less noticeable.
To be (and stay) satisfied with your tattoo: choose a properly trained tattoo artist, protect it with a water based ointment or one that contains vitamin A, use sunscreen after it has healed, and avoid tanning beds. See a dermatologist or a place like Advanced Urgent Care if you experience problems.