Signs of an infected tattoo include swelling and inflammation on the site, but because a tattoo punctures the skin, some swelling and inflammation is common, according to WebMD. Signs such as fever, severe pain, discharge and a foul odor are causes for concern regarding infection.
Inflammation is normal following a tattoo, but if swelling and inflammation lasts several days, is painful to the touch or has radiating heat from the site, it may be indicative of an infection, states WebMD. All new tattoos also have small amounts of discharge. Normal discharge is clear, and may contain tiny spots of blood. Bleeding should stop after a day or so, however, and discharge should always be clear. If discharge is yellow or green and has a foul smell, the tattoo may be infected. If there is an excessive amount of bloody discharge at any point after receiving the tattoo, medical attention should be sought.
Ways to prevent infection include choosing a reputable tattoo artist or parlor and caring for the tattoo in
the days after receiving it, according to WebMD. Antibiotic ointment should be applied to the tattoo site several times per day, and the tattoo should be exposed to clean air in between dressings to promote faster healing.