Tattoo Infection Treatment: How to Identify and Treat an Infected Tattoo?

Infected tattoo

Tattoos are an excellent way to express your creativity in the form of body art. People get themselves tattooed of things they are genuinely passionate about. Unfortunately, there are risks associated with tattoos such as an infected tattoo.

Tatto infection is the result of introducing foreign materials into our body. An infected tattoo is uncommon, but certainly possible through the risk of an unsanitary environment, needle, or spread of other bacteria.

This article discusses the ways to identify and treat an infected tattoo.

Possible Causes of Infected Tattoo

Tattoos have become popular over the recent years, and are also more acceptable and common in the workplace.

With this increase in popularity comes an increased risk of tattoo infection as more and more people are getting inked.

If taken care of tattoos, are relatively safe. The most popular causes of an infected tattoo come from an unsanitary environment, equipment, or poor aftercare. Tattoo infections come in many forms including the following:

1. Unsanitary Equipment

Getting inked with contaminated equipment may transfer blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

2. Ineffective Cleaning

Once you get tattooed, it is essential to get your skin cleaned thoroughly to avoid infected tattoo.

3. Poor Aftercare

Poor aftercare can lead to infected tattoo due to bacterial infections.

4. Contaminated Ink

Ink contaminated with bacteria can cause severe skin infections and infected tattoo.

5. Picking Tattooed Skin

Picking your tattooed skin can cause bleeding, irritation, and infection.

6. Others Touching Your Tattoo

Others who touch your tattoo may pass on bacteria to your tattooed skin and lead to infected tattoo.

7. Scratching Your Tattoo

Scratching your tattoo can also cause a tattoo infection. Tattooed skin is most likely to be itchy, but it is best to avoid scratching or picking at all costs until your tattoo is healed.

How to Identify an Infected Tattoo? 7 Signs and Symptoms of Tattoo Infection

Tattoos are a painful experience, and the last thing you want is it is to become infected. While a tattoo infection can be common, it is important to identify an infected tattoo and minimize the health risks associated with it.

Below are seven signs and symptoms of a tattoo infection:

1. Pain

Painful or tender to touch skin is a common sign of an infected tattoo. Getting a tattoo is painful, but the pain shouldn’t last long.

Excessive pain, tenderness, swelling, or searing pain after 7-10 days is a likely sign of an infection.

2. Rash

A rash is a common symptom of an infected tattoo and comes in a variety of different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. When foreign objects are inserted into your body, it may have an unusual reaction to such things.

A rash is certainly a part of it. A rash can be red and smooth or appear more bumpy and rough. It usually indicates a minor irritation to the skin. Be aware that it can also be a sign of infection if the area is getting worse or the rash is growing larger.

3. Blistering

Your tattoo should not show any signs of blistering if it were done properly. Any blistering that you experience around the tattooed area should be viewed as a potential risk of infection.

Blistering is usually the result of some sort of burn. Seek attention from a professional as soon as possible.

4. Fever or Fatigue

As with other symptoms of infection, fever and fatigue should not be taken lightly. Infections cause the body to work harder to fight off disease and bacteria.

Your core body temperature could increase, and you could experience abnormal levels of fatigue. If you are experiencing a fever after your tattoo and feel an abnormal sense of tiredness, increased breathing, or faster heart rate consult the doctor immediately.

5. Excess Redness

Tattoos often appear red and inflamed for a few days. However, this condition should subside in few days, and if it doesn’t, it could be a sign of an infected tattoo. This redness usually occurs in deep color surrounding the area of the tattoo.

6. Itching

Everyone who has a tattoo may experience excessive itching. Dry skin and persistent itching tend to work together for new tattoos. This is often a result of improper moisturizer and care.

An infection is more likely if you experience persistent itching along with another symptom on this list. Be sure to soothe the area of your tattoo with a quality tattoo lotion to keep the skin healthy and hydrated.

7. Discharge

Discharge is a more serious sign that your tattoo infection requires medical attention. The skin from an infected tattoo will swell and blister causing a pus-like substance to ooze from the area.

It is important to distinguish between pimples or boils that discharge pus. Pimples are common in skin irritation, but if they worsen with a discharge of fluid that is foul smelling, it is best to seek medical attention.

Also Read: Eczema on the Face: Common Causes & Natural Treatments for Facial Eczema

How to Heal an Infected Tattoo?

An infected tattoo can become a serious infection if not treated as soon as symptoms occur. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms of a tattoo infection and know how to heal it. With home remedies and solutions widely available treating your tattoo can be cheap and effective.

Firstly you should clean and air the tattoo. This is step very important. Cleaning the tattoo will prevent the infection from spreading further to your body. Then once clean, exposure to air will provide necessary oxygen to the tattoo which should speed up the healing process of the area.

Below is a list of ways to heal an infected tattoo.

1. Cold Pack or Cold Compress

Cold packs are the best way to reduce inflammation, soothe pain, reduce swelling and itching or irritation of the affected area. A cold pack is a good tattoo infection treatment, in addition, to aid the care of the tattoo before the infection.

Steps to Use a Cold Pack to Heal an Infected Tattoo:

You have many options including; frozen vegetables, a bag of ice, ice pack, or more.

  • Select the cold pack of choice that will be easy to hold on your skin
  • Wrap it in a paper towel to avoid irritation and apply to the infected area for 10-15 minutes at a time.
  • After 10-15 minutes, let the area rest for 30-60 minutes before reapplying.
  • Repeat this process two to three times a day to speed up the healing process and ease the pain of the infection.

2. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has long been a popular natural remedy for healing skin infections and other skin disorders.

For an infected tattoo, the antibacterial properties of coconut oil are powerful in fighting off infection of the area. Coconut oil helps repair damaged skin and destroy bacteria. It moisturizes and protects your skin from further damage.

How to Apply Coconut Oil?

  • Apply a small amount of raw coconut oil to the infected tattoo or area. This should help ease the pain and limit itching.
  • You can use it as often as you like to limit the symptoms of a potential tattoo infection. Use until all symptoms have gone including redness, swelling, discharge, and others.

3. Honey

Honey happens to be another excellent natural remedy for treating an infected tattoo. As you would with coconut oil, honey can be applied directly to the affected area. It can help you boost the healing process and limit negative symptoms of the infection.

How to Use Honey?

Honey can be applied similarly to coconut oil and other natural oils to heal your infected tattoo.

  • Start by applying a thin layer of honey to the infected area.
  • Cover with gauze or a paper towel to dress the wound.
  • Repeat this process until signs of the tattoo infection are gone
  • Be sure to clean and disinfect the area well after each application.

4. Calendula Cream

Calendula cream is a topical ointment that you can use to treat the infection around your tattoo. The wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in calendula extracts provide essential healing properties to ease your recovery.

Calendula cream is the best way to use the extract to heal your tattoo.

How to Use Calendula Cream?

  • Apply the cream directly to the infected area two to three times a day.
  • Read package directions on the quantity to be applied.
  • Repeat as needed until symptoms subside.

How to Prevent Tattoo Infection?

It is not always easy to prevent tattoo infection because of the factors that are involved. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent tattoo infection.

Proper care of the damaged skin after getting a tattoo is one of the best ways to prevent infection. Treat your tattoo as you would treat a wound on your arm or something similar. It requires cleaning, fresh air, moisture, and time to heal without infection.

Follow the instructions given by your tattoo artist for your tattoo to prevent infection. Many will recommend similar procedures to ensuring your tattoo heals properly.

  • Cover skin for an hour or two after getting a tattoo
  • Allow the area of your tattoo to get fresh air as that will expedite the healing process
  • Water will still affect the area, so avoid swimming in pools or the ocean for at least two to three months after the tattoo
  • Avoid using alcohol products to clean the skin which can cause unnecessary irritation
  • Wash your hands before touching the tattoo or changing the dressing
  • Wash, pat dry, and moisturize your skin three to four times a day

If you are ever uncertain on the appearance of your tattoo, take a picture and send it to your artist or stop by his salon for a further consultation.


Hunter, D., “Tattoo Infections – How To Spot & Treat An Infected Tattoo Authority Tattoo web site;, last accessed Aug 24, 2017

Jewell, T., “Tattoo Infection: Tips for Identification and TreatmentHealthline web site;, last accessed Aug  24, 2017

Sharing is caring! Your love and support motivates us!

Welcome! 👋
I hope you find what you're looking for

Stay informed with our latest articles delivered to your inbox!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info