Anyone who is considering a tattoo should seriously consider the health risks and the long-term effects associated with tattoos. Most importantly, you should get a tattoo from a reputable facility that is licensed and inspected by the Oklahoma State Health Department. Employees at licensed establishments are trained to insure that procedures are done in a way that minimizes the transmission of communicable diseases and the risk of infection. Follow these guidelines to prevent infection while your tattoo heals:
• Always wash your hands thoroughly before touching the tattoo.
• Gently wash your tattoo with your bare hands, then pat dry and apply a thin layer of the ointment or lotion recommended by your tattoo artist three times a day for one-two weeks.
• Keep the tattoo fresh and open to the air after the bandage has been removed, but keep it protected with clothing until it heals.
• Consult with your healthcare provider if an allergic reaction and/or infection occur. Signs of a possible infection include the following: excessive soreness, tenderness, redness, drainage, swelling or pain at tattoo site.
• DO NOT re-bandage your tattoo after removing the bandage according to your tattoo artist’s instructions.
• DO NOT submerge the tattoo in water (i.e., hot tubs, lakes, bathtubs, pools) until it is healed.
• DO NOT pick scabs, or rub or scratch your tattoo while it heals, although it may be very itchy.
• AVOID excessive sun exposure or tanning beds until tattoo is completely healed. After your tattoo is healed, sun exposure can fade the tattoo, so use sunblock when it may be exposed to the sun.
• DO NOT wear tight clothing over the tattoo until it is healed.
• DO NOT use lotions or moisturizers with oils or fragrances. Make sure you are given detailed follow up instructions and follow them exactly as written. Aftercare is very important to prevent infection and promote healing.
• Packaged sterile saline (with no additives, read the label) is a gentle choice for piercing aftercare. If sterile saline is not available in your region a sea salt solution mixture can be a viable alternative. Dissolve 1∕8 to 1⁄4 teaspoon (.75 to 1.42 grams) of non-iodized (iodine free), finegrain sea salt into one cup (8 oz. / 250ml) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better; salt solution that is too strong can irritate the piercing.
CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR BODY PIERCINGS
• WASH your hands thoroughly prior to cleaning or touching your piercing for any reason.
•SALINE rinse as needed while healing. For certain piercings it may be easier to apply using clean gauze saturated with saline solution. If your piercer suggests using soap, gently lather around the piercing and rinse as needed. Avoid using harsh soaps, or soaps with dyes or fragrances.
•RINSE site as needed to remove cleaning solution residue. Moving or rotating jewelry is not necessary during cleaning or rinsing.
• DRY by gently patting with clean, disposable paper products. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria and snag on jewelry causing injury
WHAT IS NORMAL?
• Initially: some bleeding, localized swelling, tenderness, and/or bruising.
• During healing: some discoloration, itching, secretion of a whitishyellow fluid (not pus) that will form some crust on the jewelry. The tissue may tighten around the jewelry as it heals.
• Once healed: the jewelry may not move freely in the piercing; do not force it. If you fail to include cleaning your piercing as part of your daily hygiene routine, normal but smelly bodily secretions may accumulate.
• A piercing might seem healed before the healing process is complete. This is because tissue heals from the outside in, and although it feels fine, the interior remains fragile. Be patient, and keep cleaning throughout the entire initial healing period.
• Even healed piercings that you have had for years can shrink or close in minutes! This varies from person to person; if you like your piercing, keep jewelry in—do not leave the hole empty
WHAT TO DO
• Wash your hands prior to touching the piercing; leave it alone except when cleaning. During healing it is not necessary to rotate your jewelry.
• Exercise during healing is fine; listen to your body.
• Make sure your bedding is washed and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable, breathable clothing that protects your piercing while you are sleeping.
• Showers tend to be safer than taking baths, as bathtubs can harbor bacteria. If you bathe in a tub, clean it well before each use and rinse off your piercing when you get out.
TO STAY HEALTHY
• The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal.
• Get enough sleep.
• To help healing and bolster your ability to fight infection eat a nutritious diet.¹ If you don’t, consider taking nutritional supplements daily.
WHAT TO AVOID
• Avoid cleaning with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Dial® or other soaps containing triclosan,2 iodine, or any harsh products, as these can damage cells. Also avoid ointments as they prevent necessary air circulation.
• Avoid Bactine®, pierced ear care solutions, and other products containing Benzalkonium Chloride (BZK). These can be irritating and are not intended for long-term wound care.
• Avoid over-cleaning. This can delay your healing and irritate your piercing.
• Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry, and vigorous cleaning. These activities can cause the formation of unsightly and uncomfortable scar tissue, migration, prolonged healing, and other complications.
• Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others’ bodily fluids on or near your piercing during healing.
• Avoid stress and recreational drug use, including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
• Avoid submerging the piercing in unhygienic bodies of water such as lakes, pools, hot tubs, etc. Or, protect your piercing using a waterproof wound-sealant bandage (such as 3M™ Nexcare™ Clean Seals or Tegaderm). These are available at most drugstores. • Avoid all beauty and personal care products on or around the piercing including cosmetics, lotions, and sprays, etc.
• Don’t hang charms or any object from your jewelry until the piercing is fully healed.