It’s finally summer and a young man’s fancy turns to… tattoos! Americans spend over $1.6 billion annually on skin art, and over 40 percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 26 and 40 can boast of at least one tattoo.
That’s a lot of ink!
But before you celebrate your graduation/first child/marriage/divorce/retirement/latest patent/having had way too much to drink with a brand new tattoo, there are a few tips to keep that experience that 17 percent of people regret having, a healthy one.
Beware the sun. Your newly-inked skin will be very sensitive to the sun before it has healed, and even afterwards, to a lesser extent. Ultraviolet light can react with tattoo ink on your skin to create a sunburn-like reaction – especially if your tat contains large amounts of red or yellow ink.
Check with your doctors about your meds. You raise your risk of infection with a tattoo if you are on certain immunosuppressive drugs, such as those used to treat lupus, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and some varieties of cancer. Blood thinners and tattoos don’t always play nicely together, either, for the obvious reasons.
Don’t drink and ink. As alcohol impacts your ability to heal, thins your blood and can even make you bleed more, so do your best to show up sober for your appointment at the tattoo parlor. You’ll also be less likely to get the elegant, discreet “rose-and-skull” pattern for your bicep that you intended and avoid the full “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” on your chest if you haven’t had too much to drink. (The code of ethics to which the great majority of tattoo artists adhere will normally prevent them from inking intoxicated persons, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.)
Avoid getting tattooed near a mole. Changes to the symmetry, border, color, size, shape or texture a mole on your skin may be a sign that it is morphing into melanoma or another form of skin cancer. A tattoo near or around a mole may make it difficult for your doctor to detect the deadly disease – one that is eminently curable if caught early on.
Protect against infection. Use a mild soap when cleaning the area of a new tattoo, and don’t scrub with a loofah or coarse washcloth. The small skin tears that may result can eave you open to infection. Avoid using anti-bacterial lotions such as Neosporin, Triple Antibiotic and CURAD as they can inflame the tattooed area. Consider treating yourself to a soap specifically designed for tattooed skin.