Safe Tattoo Practice With Psoriasis
Consider the fact that psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. This means that the plaques on your skin are caused because your body perceives itself to be foreign and is attacking itself.
Any time you introduce something that is foreign to your body, you risk infection; if your body is in a current “attack” phase, it may be unable to fight the infection.
Knowing that Koebner phenomenon can happen to one in four people with psoriasis, you also must assess whether you want to take the risk of worsening your psoriasis. If the risk is worth it to you, there are steps you should consider when selecting a tattoo parlor.
Following these guidelines will minimize your risk of infection, although they will not reduce your risk of the Koebner phenomenon:
- Call the tattoo parlors before making any appointments. Better yet, visit the tattoo parlors. Ask about the cleanliness of their tattoo parlor, their cleaning procedures of needles (for example, do they sterilize needles or have single-use needles) and any other questions you may have. Visiting the parlor is especially helpful because you can visually inspect for cleanliness.
- Ensure that the tattoo artist is registered or has some certification. Registration/licensing/certification varies state to state and country to country, but you would want to ensure that the tattoo parlor is up-to-date on their licensures.
- Ensure that the dyes used for tattooing are meant for tattooing. Untested dyes, even if other people have not had issues, may cause a reaction in someone with psoriasis.
- Even if you want a tattoo, it is imperative that you discuss it with your healthcare provider. They will discuss the pros and cons based on your particular history, especially if you have other health conditions.
Not All Tattoo Shops Are the Same
Once you have decided you would like to get a tattoo, you should do your research before going in for a tattoo. After all, not all tattoo shops are the same and not all follow guidelines established by OSHA and state law.
If you decide you want to go a specific tattoo parlor, make sure you verify the following about the tattoo parlor:
- If it is reputable
- The shop and artists are properly licensed
- The shop is clean
- Artists wear gloves during tattooing
- Artists understand proper sterilization of all tools
- Ink cups are only used for the one person getting the tattoo and thrown out afterward
- Fresh needles are used each time
You should verify this information for every parlor you are considering until you find one that meets your expectations and gives you little or no stress about getting a tattoo.
Remember, getting a tattoo is a deeply personal decision. It is a statement of expression, but it is also an expression that you will wear for the rest of your life. Weigh the pros and cons before making your appointment.
After Getting a Tattoo
Chances are you will receive an instruction sheet after getting your tattoo that will explain how to care for your tattoo until it is healed. You should ask all your questions before leaving the shop and call them if you think of anything later.
Your tattoo site will be itchy and swollen, which is generally normal. Tattoos typically take at least two weeks to heal.
The tattoo will scab, and the scab will eventually fall off. It is important not to scratch the tattoo site, as this may slow down the healing and increase your risk for infection.
If you notice redness and excessive swelling, you should call your doctor right away, as these might be signs of an infection. Any new psoriasis plaques at or near the tattoo site should also be reported to your doctor immediately, as these may be related to the Koebner phenomenon.
The Bottom Line
There is not enough research to confirm getting a tattooing worsens your psoriasis. Moreover, there has been little evidence that adverse harm occurs when people with psoriasis get tattoos.
Of course, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor about any increased risks that apply to you, including your heightened risk for infection and any medications that would cause you to get an adverse reaction.
Do your research before visiting a tattoo parlor and getting tattooed. Avoid getting tattoos in areas with skin lesions and broken skin.
If you are looking for some tattoo inspiration and ideas, visit the National Psoriasis Foundation’s tattoo gallery.