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Symptoms Of An Infected Tattoo

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Any time you have any type of surgery, or do anything that involves cutting or pricking the skin, you risk getting an infection. An infection can cause serious problems for you, ranging from destroying your new tattoo to even death, and is not something to be taken lightly. People with hepatitis or AIDS should not get tattoos because they are at an elevated risk of infection and are more likely to suffer the most serious side effects. You should see a doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Extreme redness or irritation. Of course there is going to be some redness and irritation from getting your tattoo done, but it should decrease within hours to days. If the redness or irritation starts to increase suddenly, you may have an infection.
  • Pain. The same thing holds true for pain. Your pain should decrease in increments after having your tattoo, and if it starts to get worse instead, you should check with your doctor.
  • Fever. This is one of the surest signs of an infection; even if your temperature is just slightly elevated you should check with your doctor.
  • Swelling. It is normal to have a little swelling immediately after your tattoo, but again, if it gets worse instead of better you should seek medical attention right away.
  • An unusual odor can also be a sign of infection.
  • Any type of discharge or pus coming from your tattoo is also a bad sign.
  • Red streaks or sores that develop on or around your tattoo could indicate a simple infection, or something more serious like blood poisoning or a staph infection, and you should proceed to the emergency room ASAP.

Since an infected tattoo could potentially kill you, you should not take any symptoms you have lightly. Even if you just have a "funny feeling" about it, you should check with your doctor to be on the safe side. You also want to make sure you are taking the proper precautions to prevent an infection in the first place. Your tattoo may take days or weeks to heal depending on its size, the care you take, and any personal hereditary or health issues you may have. You need to keep the area clean and protected until it is properly healed. Using an antibiotic ointment can help keep bacteria out, but you don't want to wear it 24/7 because it won't let oxygen in either.

Infected Tattoos

Redness around the tattoo can be a sign of an infected tattoo.

Redness around the tattoo can be a sign of an infected tattoo.

An arm tattoo with a staph infection. This tattoo infection can be serious and should be looked at by a doctor.

An arm tattoo with a staph infection. This tattoo infection can be serious and should be looked at by a doctor.

How to Know if a Tattoo Is Infected


Sabu on January 05, 2016:

I have got new tattoo 4 weeks ago. but i have got redness and itchng around tattoo since the first day but no pain . I visited tattoo artist and he recommended to visit doctor . I am worring about it .

heather on March 06, 2015:

Hello my boyfriend had a cover up and its scabbing but he has some yellow spots on his arm do you know what it could be? He went to a tattoo shop and got it done. Please let me know

littlegibbo on March 04, 2015:

hello guys I had a tattoo done on me left leg and since I had it done im struggling to walk its very inflamed and sore I cant touch it its red and I dunno what else to do part from my bepathan cream and ice cubes

missy on March 02, 2015:

So I got my 6th tattoo 3 days ago its on my forarm and its slightly red and it still burns I don't remember this with any of my other tattoos should I be consered

Angela Dalton on May 29, 2013:

Always make sure that you keep the area moisturised and do not let the area get dry and irritated. Use creams such as nappy rash cream or burn creams, savlon is not the way forward as it can cause the ink to be drawn out of the skin and not giving you the best result. Bepanthen is the best cream to use, it sooths itching and irritation. It also keeps the skin moisturised. Best thing to apply and it is gentle because it is used on babies. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR TATTOOS. Do not get careless.

Angela Dalton


MsBrightSide. on October 17, 2012:

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I just a tattoo 2.5 weeks ago.. Its mostly all healed but there is one area which looks like its a wound. I have had trouble healing it. It wouldn't dry out with any ointment etc on it. So I was told to leave it. There is redness and raised hard skin around it. Not all around it perfectly but its raised, hard and red. Doesn't hurt though. That area of ink looks deep though, that's the only way I can describe it. Like its dug in my skin and not on my skin, if you know what I mean. It looks aweful too. I think I may have to go to the doctor but I don't know. Its not oozing or hurting so hmm.

abondormon on September 09, 2012:

I don't have any recent tattoos and never had one get infected. But I've received my Rx meds straight to my front door from for over 2 years now! They're simply the best. Highly Recommend :)

Natalie on August 15, 2012:

I got a tattoo on the back of ankle about a month ago I had gone to virginia with my family and got into a pool only a week after getting it (stupid move) when I went back to the hotel room it

Had a blister type scab over it I pealed it off (i didn't have mich of a choice or it couldve been worse) I cleaned it and put a lot of A&D on it and well now it healed but theres still this small light red spot on one of my letters should I worry even though I had none of the "symptoms"

JEAN on July 29, 2012:

received a tattoo 2 weeks ago. my problem is my leg is swollen from the knee down, I have fluid retention which is normal the problem is its a liitle red around the tatoo and very itchy, no sores or anything, could it be infected?

jessica on June 17, 2012:

I have seven tattoos but just got my seventh one 4 days ago, and I'm having symptoms like never before. It is on my forearm. Very big. And on two parts are very very sore. Leaking ink, red around it and where the ink leaked out it is now yellow scabs where at first it was holes. I'm really scared and I know how to take care of tattoos very well. Yesterday my arm was very hot. and when I touch it, or put the cream/vasoline on it, it is very painful. I had it covered up at work but I have been handling with cardboard boxes and money. So I'm really worried. Does this sound like an infection?

dontknow on May 31, 2012:

I got a tattoo on my right calf the before yesterday its still red and I can't really walk on my leg now.I keep getting cramps under the tattoo..... Any ideas?

BIG DADDY on May 31, 2012:

I got a piece done on my arm farely big all is healing ok.My concern is that the skin is crackin and there is puss and some blood coming out, some pain when i carry something heavy with that arm.Its only red and blue/teal like someone else siad where the skin is crackin and infection is a big concern and other major conerns as well.