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

Signs of infections can develop after a hand poked tattoo on the skin or the mucous membranes, such as the inside of the mouth or nose. Symptoms of a infection in the area of contact with the allergen may include:

  • Swelling, bruising or itching
  • Hives
  • Red streaks leading from the area
  • Pus draining from the area
  • Fever
  • An allergic reaction develops

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 tattoo ink. For example, if you have had 3 or 4 hand poked tattoos without any problems, you could have an allergic reaction to the dye the next time you have a stick’n’poke tattoo. Each time you poke your skin, you must watch for signs of an allergy and get help based on the severity of your reaction.

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).

Local reactions can be handled at home and are not life-threatening. Try the following:

Stop swelling, bruising or itching

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.

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.

Aquarius Zodiac sign by Kokosmaedchen source

Treat hives

Hives can be minor, or they can be the first sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). 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.

Prevent dirt and irritation

The best option here is to use a sheet of protective tattoo film, and change it every 24 hours.

If you don’t have a protective tattoo film sheet you can also protect your hand poked tattoo with a bandage. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, or a vegan alternative, to a non-stick bandage.

Apply the 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.

Fine line flower bouquet by Juan Serrano. source

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink are rare. Tattoo ink colors are made from different materials, here a few examples:

  • Green from chromium
  • Yellow from cadmium
  • Blue from cobalt.
  • Red color comes from mercury, the Allergic reactions to red dyes occur more often than allergic reactions to other colors.
Red ink heart by Ann Pokes. source

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

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or around the area
  • Signs of an infection develop.
  • An allergic reaction develops.
  • Your symptoms are not improving after 2 weeks of home treatment.
  • Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.