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  • Brindley Brooks

Tattoos and Hidradenitis Suppurativa

Tattoos are a great way to express yourself and you can absolutely still get tattoos with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.

It is not recommended that you get a tattoo where you previously had or currently have Hidradenitis Suppurativa as it can aggravate the area and trigger flares. You also never know when Hidradenitis Suppurativa is going to return since it waxes and wanes (comes and goes). There are no guarantees that you will not develop HS where you got your tattoo. HS is a follicular occlusion and any trauma to the skin can cause skin and tissue damage, which may trigger flares at any time.

Are tattoos safe? The inks are regulated by the FDA, but the actual practice of tattooing is regulated by individual local jurisdictions. This means there is no standardized certification for the artists doing the tattooing or an overall supervision of the "health and safety" of tattoo shops. It’s best to visit a shop that has good reviews and recommendations from others who have been tattooed there before.

Are there risks? The equipment used includes needles that puncture the top layer of the skin to inject ink in the dermis, the deep layer of the skin. If tools (needles and/or gun) are unsterilized, and/or the ink has been contaminated, this can lead to infection, especially during the healing process.

The ingredients in the ink also can cause an allergic reaction for some people. Ask if the inks contain mercury or nickel as these are the most common allergens.

The ingredients in tattoo ink can vary depending on the color, but they often contain metals and other organic compounds in a liquid base like purified water. Infections can also result from ink that was contaminated with bacteria or mold or using non-sterile water to dilute the pigments.

How do I get the best result? Always treat a tattoo as you would any other medical procedure.

  • Make sure the tattoo shop is clean as your doctor or dermatologist’s office

  • Ask to see the tools the artist will be using; the needles should be repackaged and sterilized, no exceptions

  • The ink should be new in small containers for single-use

  • The artist should always wear gloves

  • Make sure their work area is clean and free of any contamination

I just got a tattoo, now what? Your tattoo artist should have given you detailed instructions on how to care for your tattoo. Pay attention to any reactions after getting a tattoo, especially if you develop a fever. You may get a rash or redness in the area of your tattoo. Aggressive infections may also cause a rash and redness, high fever, chills, and sweats. If you experience any of these symptoms please seek medical attention immediately.

You may develop scar tissue after getting a tattoo, or even granulomas, which are small knots or bumps that may form around material (the ink) that the body perceives as foreign. If you are prone to keloids, you may develop the same kind of reaction to the tattoo.

Research regarding Hidradenitis Suppurativa and tattoos can be found here.

If you have an Hidradenitis Suppurativa inspired tattoo and want to share it with others, please do so here!

If you're looking for inspiration for an Hidradenitis Suppurativa tattoo check here.

Please Note: There is no guarantee that you will not develop hidradenitis in the area you choose for your tattoo and Hidradenitis Suppurativa is a follicular occlusion disease.

Content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website.

Written by Denise Panter-Fixsen

Edited by Brindley Kons


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