On a daily basis, clients ask us; “I’m feeling a bit under the weather… Is it still okay for me to get tattooed?”. The simple answer is no, we would prefer if you didn’t get tattooed while you were sick. Unfortunately however, the reasoning behind this may not be as straight-forward as you would think. What if you’re starting to get better? What if you’re not contagious? At what point is it okay for you to get tattooed? Hopefully after reading this you will be able to not only make a decision that’s healthy for you, but also one that’s healthy for your tattoo artist.
Quick disclaimer, we do not claim to be healthcare professionals and you should always consult your general practitioner when you start to feel ill. This is just some general advise because we want to ensure that you’re feeling your best the day of your tattoo.
Let’s start off with the obvious, being sick feels really sh*tty. Do you really want to be subjected to more pain and discomfort when you’re already feeling so under the weather? Regardless of if it’s just a cold or a more serious infection, wouldn’t it be better to stay home and cuddle up in bed with a nice cup of tea? If you’ve been planning this day for a long time and have put down a significant amount of money, we understand that it might be difficult to put your health first, but ignoring your body may be doing you more harm than good.
Even when you’re 100% healthy, getting a tattoo (regardless of how small), can make your body feel pretty rough. It’s exhausting! It may not look like it, but a tattoo is essentially a big open wound, and open wounds require the power of your immune system to heal. When you’re fighting off a cold or other sickness, your immune system is already busy and working at it’s full potential (and you need it to be, don’t forget, people used to die of the common cold). Imagine your sickness is the enemy and all the little white blood cells in your immune system are your frontline defence. This little army is very good at fighting a single enemy, however, the more enemies that appear (i.e., your new tattoo), the more thinly spread and ineffective the “soldiers” become. This can lead to improper healing of your tattoo (and possible infection) and worsening or lengthening of your sickness. It’s better to let your immune system fight off one enemy at a time rather than purposely inviting more hardship for your body to cope with.
What if you decide to tough it out and get the tattoo anyway? Well it’s very likely that your tattoo will heal poorly, scar or even possibly get infected. We know you didn’t pay all that money to have your tattoo look s**t when it heals so it’s in your best interest to wait.
Now, what if you’re starting to feel better, or you haven’t quite gotten “really sick” yet? Just because you’re feeling better, doesn’t mean you are no longer contagious: especially if you have had the cold/flu recently. Let’s take a second to think about your tattoo artist and everyone else that works at their shop. Most tattoo artists (regardless of if they work in a shop or independently) are self-employed and very, very busy, meaning that if they catch whatever you have, they could be out of work (any money) for a long time. Don’t forget that they’re sticking their faces right up in people’s bloody business every day, the last thing they want to do is get anyone sick or compromise a tattoo. Thankfully for you, you would be hard pressed to find any tattoo artist that would get angry at you for cancelling due to illness, they would much rather work a little harder to reschedule you in when you’re feeling better, rather than dealing with several cancellations should they fall ill.
How do you know when you’re ready to get your tattoo? As we already mentioned, infections can hang around days or even weeks after you stop exhibiting the classic “symptoms”. Your immune system can sometimes get a “hangover” after being exhausted by all your lack of sleep, improper nourishment, coughing, vomiting, etc., it deals with when you’re sick and it may take a while for it to start working at full capacity again. Just as a general reminder (for even when you’re not sick) make sure you’re getting enough rest, eating well and taking your vitamins. Not only will this make your future tattoos heal better, it will make you feel better all around! If you feel up to it, try and get yourself moving. If you can walk a couple km without feeling winded and go about your day as normal you’re probably good to go - again, make sure you talk to your doctor about it… you may need antibiotics or other medication to get you back to 100%. All this being said, it’s probably best to give yourself two or three weeks to get back to being yourself - your body and your tattoo artist will thank you.
Fox & Moon Tattoo