Problems with tattoos

  • Bacterial infections and problems with healing in fresh tattoos. The infections can spread, become deep and cause abscesses. You can get blood poisoning with high fever, also called sepsis or septicaemia. The condition is life threatening and acute treatment in hospital is needed.
  • Allergies in red tattoos and shades of red with chronic itching and swelling that affects your quality of life. This is like getting a skin disorder that is as severe as other chronic itching skin disorders. Corticoid cream does not work. Best treatment is removal of the pigment by surgery. Laser removal can boost the allergy and make it worse.
  • Small tender nodules in black tattoos that are not an allergy. Seen in particular when too much pigment is pricked into the skin. Sun makes it worse. Nodules in black tattoos can be manifestation of the disease sarcoidosis, which can affect different organs including the lung. A black tattoo can trigger the development of sarcoidosis. Consult a Doctor.
  • Episodes of stinging nettle-like swelling in the tattoo lasting from a few days to weeks.
  • Abnormal skin growth where the skin bulges and becomes extremely scaly, coarse and hard.
  • Abnormal scar formation, possibly as a so-called hypertrophic scar or keloid depending on individual predisposition.
  • Seepage of pigment into the surrounding skin called “pigment fan” with unwanted coloration and migration of pigment into the lymphatic system, exceptionally with chronic swelling of the skin and the subcutaneous layer (lymphedema). The pigment follows the lymph and is often found in the lymph nodes far from the tattoo. You cannot see it and will not know it is there. It is normal that lymph nodes are tattooed invisibly along with the skin. Ink ingredients go into your body.
  • Sensitivity to light with stinging, itching, pain and swelling in the sun.
  • Chronic pain without any visible change in the tattoo, can be severe and invalidating, a “pain syndrome”.
  • Transfer of infectious liver diseases (hepatitis B and C) and HIV occurs rarely today with tattoos because tattooists nowadays normally wear gloves. Other virus infections can cause problem. Warts can spread and become sown into a tattoo. A cosmetic tattoo can trigger facial herpes.