Caring for a Stick and Poke Tattoo

Taking care of your handmade tattoo is a necessary step to ensure a good result without any complications

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Most minor swelling and inflammation (redness) from a hand poke tattoo can be treated at home. Try the following:

* Stop any bleeding. Minimal bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure to the wound. It is normal for the tattoo site to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours and clear, yellow, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.

* Apply a cold pack to help reduce the swelling, bruising, or itching. Never apply ice directly to the skin. This can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric between the cold pack and the skin.

* Take an antihistamine, such as a non-drowsy one like loratadine (Claritin) or one that might make you sleepy like diphenhydramine (Benadryl), to help treat hives and relieve itching. Be sure to read and follow any warning on the label. Do not use strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals, which can make itching worse.

* Protect your tattoo with a bandage if it might become dirty or irritated.

- Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to a non-stick bandage, such as Telfa.

- Apply the non-stick bandage with the petroleum jelly on it to the tattoo site. The petroleum jelly will prevent the irritated skin from sticking to the bandage. Putting the petroleum jelly on the bandage first will be less painful.

- Apply a clean bandage once a day. If the bandage sticks, soak the tattoo area in warm water for a few minutes or take the bandage off under running water in the shower.

- Leave the bandage off with the skin open to air whenever you can.

Symptoms to watch for during home treatment

Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:

- Signs of an infection develop: Infection can develop after an injury or wound to the skin or the mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth or nose. Symptoms of infection may include:

· Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or around the area.

· Red streaks leading from the area.

· Pus draining from the area.

· A fever.

- An allergic reaction develops: Allergic reactions to tattoo dye are rare. The various colors in a tattoo are made from different materials. For example, the red color comes from mercury, the green from chromium, the yellow from cadmium, and the blue from cobalt. Allergic reactions to red dyes occur more often than allergic reactions to other colors.

Allergies are an overreaction of the immune system. An allergic reaction can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. Allergic reactions do not always occur the first time you are exposed to the dye. For example, if you have had 3 or 4 tattoos without any problems, you could have an allergic reaction to the dye the next time you have a tattoo. Each time you have a tattoo, you must watch for signs of an allergy and get help based on the severity of your reaction.

An allergic reaction can be local and produce swelling, itching, or hives in the area of contact with the allergen. Local reactions can usually be handled at home and are not life-threatening. Hives can be minor, or they can be the first sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Sometimes a local allergic reaction can be the start of a more serious whole-body reaction to the allergen. More serious reactions can include swelling of the throat, wheezing, or problems breathing. Blood vessels can be involved and cause a circulatory collapse (anaphylaxis).

- Your symptoms are not improving after 2 weeks of home treatment.

- Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.