Getting a tattoo is such an exciting thing to do; you go through so many emotions, pain and finally relief to get that perfect ink on your body. However, new tattoos can sometimes misbehave and lead to disturbing behaviors, such as leaking.
For those who get tattoos regularly, this might seem normal, but if it’s your first time getting a tattoo, things can get pretty scary.
There are many reasons why tattoo leakage occurs. In the following paragraphs, we’ll go over everything you need to know about tattoo leaks, what causes them, and how you can deal with them. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Tattoos and Leaks – Explained
Quick Info: Before we get to that, we need to make sure every reader knows that tattoos are SUPPOSED to bleed some ink, blood, and plasma in the first 24-48 hours. A new, fresh tattoo is considered an open wound, so in order for it to begin to heal, the body must eliminate excess ink, blood, and plasma.
Why do tattoos leak?
Tattoos leak for many reasons, but most often it’s because the tattoo artist has tried to get too much ink into the skin. Because the ink has nowhere to go but off the skin, the tattoo begins to leak, which can be quite messy. But this is only an overview of possible causes of leakage. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of leaks;
- Your tattoo is brand new
New brand new tattoos act like open wounds; let’s start with that. Now imagine trying to push something artificial and possibly toxic into your body, and making sure it stays there. This is what the tattoo ‘looks like’ on your body.
As a result, the immune system reacts and the body tries to expel the excess ink, so that it won’t cause any harm. This is why new tattoos leak ink, but also excess blood and plasma. These leaks last on average between 24 and 48 hours.
- Your artist tried to pack more ink
It’s well known that tattoo artists try to put more ink into the skin, so they usually go overboard on the total capacity or how much ink the skin can handle. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. A little extra ink can ensure your tattoo stays vibrant longer. Moreover, this method of applying ink can also prolong the fading of the tattoo.
But, because the body recognizes the ink as a foreign object, it will repel unnecessary excess ink. As a result, the tattoo begins to leak and the rest of the excess ink in the tattoo eventually breaks down, absorbed into the bloodstream (through your lymphatic system) and expelled from the body as waste.
- You are taking blood thinners
People who take blood thinners or blood thinners usually have tattoo leaks. This is because blood thinners prevent a blood clot from forming, which is essential for stopping bleeding of any kind. So, after getting a tattoo, the blood doesn’t clot right away, so the tattoo starts leaking not only blood but all the excess, and sometimes all the ink.
The same problem can occur in people with blood clotting disorders or immune system disorders. In such cases, the leak is larger than usual, which might spoil the tattoo a bit. However, this is not something one should worry too much about. The leak will eventually stop and your tattoo artists can repair the damaged spots on the tattoo.
- You drank alcohol before getting a tattoo
Drinking alcohol before a tattoo appointment is prohibited. Alcohol acts as a blood thinner and may promote excessive bleeding and ink/tattoo leakage on days when the tattoo is complete. However, some people still like to have a drink or two before getting inked, mainly for a bit of liquid courage.
Nevertheless, the majority of tattoo artists do not tattoo a visibly drunk person. In some states, tattooing a drunk person is also considered illegal. But, in case you managed to sneak into the tattoo studio while being tipsy, there’s the reason your tattoo is leaking.
Also read: Can you get a tattoo on blood thinners?
How long is it okay for tattoos to leak?
Now, new tattoos usually leak within 24-48 hours. Leakage should subside around the second day after tattooing when the wound begins to close and the blood begins to clot properly. After that, the tattoo begins to heal, dry out and reach its final shape.
However, sometimes tattoos start to leak in the middle of the healing process, long after the tattoo has been done. In such cases, the leak is usually related to some sort of tattoo inflammation or ink allergy, often accompanied by redness, swelling, itching, and tattoo tenderness. In such cases, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.
For people using blood thinners, the leak should subside after 48-72 hours. If not, you may be having blood thinning problems and need to see a doctor as soon as possible. When a tattoo is exposed to fluids and moisture for such a long time, you risk tattoo infection, so it’s best to get it treated as soon as possible.
How do I take care of a leaking tattoo?
Here are some tips you can use to deal with a leaky tattoo;
- clean the tattoo – Once you get home from a tattoo appointment, it is essential to leave the bandage or tattoo wrap. However, if there is excessive leakage, you can remove the bandage and wash the tattoo with warm water and antibacterial soap.
Avoid using soaps or ointments that contain perfumes, as you can cause irritation and possible inflammation. When you’re done, you can reapply a new, clean dressing or bandage overnight.
- Do not apply ointment right away – while the tattoo is leaking, you should not apply ointments. The tattoo needs to stop leaking naturally so the skin can dry out and begin to heal. This is when you can start moisturizing the tattoo with organic and fragrance-free products. Even then, you can apply only the thinnest layer of ointment, twice a day.
- Protect the tattoo while showering – fresh tattoos should not be exposed to water, which means you should not take long baths or showers. Until the tattoo begins to heal, your shower should last up to 10 minutes, during which time you will completely avoid the tattoo. Soaking the tattoo will only prolong the leak and prevent the skin from starting to seal up.
- Do not drink alcohol, before or after a tattoo – as mentioned, alcohol acts as a blood thinner. It can be hard for a leaky tattoo to stop leaking, whether it’s blood or ink leaking. You should wait until your tattoo has healed to have a drink. Otherwise, alcohol can thin your blood, promote heavier bleeding, and leave your tattoo discolored, uneven, and damaged.
- Change sheets regularly – when your tattoo leaks, it can create such a mess and destroy your sheets or clothes in a second. To keep the tattoo infection-free, it is essential to regularly replace dirty sheets with clean ones. This way you will prevent the accumulation of bacteria, germs, animal hair and other harmful particles that could enter your tattoo in the event of a leak.
To note: When tattoos leak, it can be quite difficult to sleep without the sheets sticking to your tattoo. If this happens, make sure you do NOT remove the sheets from the skin.
This can damage already treated and sensitive tattooed skin, prolong leakage and healing, and most likely lead to infection of the tattoo.
Instead, gently rinse the stuck area under lukewarm water, until the leaves fall off on their own. Be sure to wipe the skin well afterward.
Read also: How To Sleep With A New Tattoo: 8 Expert Tips
When should I see a doctor?
If your tattoo has been leaking for more than 3 or 4 days, chances are something is wrong. If the leak is accompanied by redness, tenderness, swelling, increased pain, pus, or even fever, you should seek medical attention immediately.
You could have a tattoo infection or an allergic reaction to the ink. It cannot be treated at home; you will need a proper examination and antibiotics to reduce inflammation and prevent further damage.
A brand new tattoo that leaks for a day or two is completely normal. It doesn’t sound any alarms and you shouldn’t worry. Just be sure to follow the right aftercare routine and keep your tattoo (and surroundings) clean. If the tattoo leaks for more than a few days, see a doctor and get yourself properly examined.
Read also : What is a Tattoo Ink Bag: Everything You Need to Know
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