Homemade Tattoos: The Risks and How to Do Them Safely

If you want to create a homemade tattoo, it’s important you understand the risks. Read on to find out more about how to create stick and poke tattoos safely.

‘Let a dog be a dog’ stick and poke tattoo by Sooah Tattoos. source

Homemade tattoos are becoming extremely popular and it’s no surprise! Aside from being fun and personable, they cost considerably less than professionally done ink in a studio. Despite all the benefits, it’s important that you don’t take the risks lightly when inking at home with your friends. Before you get started, you should understand basic safety precautions and aftercare so that you achieve the best results possible.

The Risks of Homemade Tattoos

Tattoos created at home are just as permanent as those you would get in a professional shop. They’re also created using the same technique, with a needle and ink, so the risks are identical. Let’s take a closer look:

Understanding Bloodborne Pathogens

Bloodborne pathogens, or BBPs, are viruses that are passed from one person to the next via the blood or other bodily fluids. You may have heard of some of the most common ones such as HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. The risk of contracting a virus such as those listed above are high when tattooing as the needle punctures create an open wound, exposing both parties involved to potentially infected blood. Some of these viruses often involve uncomfortable, life-limiting, and life-threatening side effects that cannot be cured.

Hand poked lightning bolt by Mountluna Tattoo. source

Avoiding Infections

Tattoos are open wounds, whether they are created with a machine or using the stick and poke method. With this in mind, infections are possible and can be extremely serious if not addressed quickly. These infections happen when germs enter the wound and can lead to redness, swelling, pain, and in more severe cases, fever, and nausea.

The Potential Skin Problems

Aside from infections and bloodborne pathogens, there is a chance you may have an allergic reaction to the ink, especially if you use the wrong type. Granuloma, a specific form of inflammation can appear around the ink of your tattoo, affecting its visual appeal.

Sticked paper stick and poke tattoo by Sehr Gutes Tattoo. source

Tattoo Blowout

Tattoo blowout is when you go too deep into the skin with the needle. As the name suggests, this leads the ink to blowout under the skin, leaving you with blurry lines that don’t look good. If you don’t have experience creating DIY tattoos, it’s important you practice on fake skin before creating designs on yourself or your friends. If you go too deep, the tattoo will not only look bad, but it may lead to keloids, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue that makes the tattoo look raised.

How to Create Safe Homemade Tattoos

Now that you know about the potential risks of homemade stick and poke tattoos, it’s important that you understand how to minimize them. Here’s a list of the precautions you should take when tattooing at home:

Stick and poke T-Rex tattoo by Makoto Handpokes. source

Opt for Professional Tattoo Equipment

You may think it doesn’t matter which equipment you use as long as you sterilize it but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Using a sewing needle instead of a professional tattoo needle doesn’t only increase your risk of infection but also doesn’t provide the same results as the tip of the needle is not created equally. You also want to use professional tattoo ink or India ink to create your designs as these are non-toxic and sterilized. The use of non-professional equipment is a sure-fire way of getting an infection and a tattoo that simply doesn’t look good!

Use the Correct Protective Gear

Regardless of who you are tattooing, you should always wear the correct protective gear to minimize the spread of viruses and bacteria. The first step is to thoroughly wipe down your work area and clean your hands all the way up to your elbows. Next, you’ll want to put down a protective surface and wear some latex or nitrile gloves. It’s important to note that from this moment onwards, every single time you touch something new, you’re increasing the risk of spreading germs.

To minimize the risk, get everything ready in one go. Once you have completed the steps above, secure your tongue depressor to your protective work surface using your tattoo balm and then secure your ink cup to your tongue depressor. Pour your ink into the pot and take your tattoo needle out of its packaging. Before you start your stick and poke tattoo, make sure to shave any hairs using a new razor and use an alcohol wipe to clean the skin.

Lil stick n poke doodlebob by Makoto Handpokes. source

Take Aftercare Seriously

Last but not least, the outcome of your homemade tattoo will largely depend on how well you look after it. Here are some tattoo aftercare tips you should follow:

  • Keep the tattoo clean using chemical-free soap.
  • Don’t submerge your new ink in water. Light splashes from the shower are fine.
  • Pat your tattoo dry, never rub or scrub it.
  • Apply a light layer of chemical-free moisturizer to your new ink 2 or 3 times a day.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure for at least 2 weeks.
  • Don’t wear clothes that will stick to your new tattoo.
  • Give your tattoo 2 to 3 weeks to heal entirely.
  • Don’t pick scabs and avoid itching your new tattoo, regardless of how tempting it may be!

If you want to create your own homemade tattoos, there are a number of professional kits now available to choose from that include all the necessary equipment to create professional-looking designs. To find out more about our tattoo kits, visit our online store today!