Several methods, including keeping the affected area dry, avoiding using chemicals on the infected skin, keeping the area covered, using a topical ointment and paying a visit to the doctor help reduce symptoms of infected tattoos. Tattoo infections, like other topical and external infections, have the potential to spread and cause serious health effects. The severity of tattoo infections varies but, when in doubt, more rather than less aggressive treatments should be applied.
Several symptoms indicate the presence of possible tattoo infections. Redness and irritation around the tattoo area serve as in indication that an infection is present. Additionally, irritated skin becomes itchy and tender, and warmer than surrounding areas. Prolonged redness (lasting longer than a day or two after getting the tattoo) indicates a higher likelihood of an infection. Development of pus around the tattoo site also signifies infection, as does development of a fever. Keeping the area dry is important for reducing infections, as water invites the spread of bacteria. Using products with chemicals such as soaps, lotions and petroleum ointment introduces toxins and may exacerbate infections. Gauze or padding covers infected spots to seal out bacteria, while ointments create a protective barrier against intruding bacteria when applied to cleansed skin. Lastly, as infections may cause serious health problems, people with infected tattoos should see their doctors as soon as possible.