Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? Timeline and more


Many people mistakenly believe that having a tattoo means you can’t donate blood.

The truth is that most people with tattoos can donate blood, as long as they don’t have certain diseases.

Sometimes a person may need to wait up to 12 months after getting a tattoo before donating blood. This is to ensure that they have not developed any illness as a result of the tattoo.

In this article, learn about the rules of blood donation and the waiting time after a tattoo.

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If necessary, a person may have to wait 12 months after getting a tattoo to donate blood.

Most people with tattoos can donate blood, as long as they don’t have risk factors prohibiting or limiting blood donation.

People who get tattooed in states with regulated facilities that do not reuse ink can donate blood immediately.

However, if a person gets a tattoo in a state that does not allow tattoo facilities, they must wait 12 months to ensure that they have not developed a contagious disease as a result of the tattoo procedure.

The following states do not license their tattoo facilities:

  • District of Colombia
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

People who get tattooed in prison, those who apply their own tattoos, and people who get tattooed in regulated states but by unregulated artists or facilities should also wait before donating blood.

The American Red Cross requires a 12-month waiting period after receiving a tattoo at an unregulated facility before a person can donate blood. This is due to the risk of hepatitis.

Hepatitis is a type of inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are highly contagious and potentially fatal, especially for people with serious health conditions.

A person can contract these forms of hepatitis after coming into contact with blood that contains them. This can happen during or following a blood donation.

It can take up to 6 months for a person to develop symptoms of hepatitis after exposure.

This 12-month waiting period is longer than the incubation period for hepatitis, so it ensures that someone with the disease does not donate blood and inadvertently transmit the virus to someone else. another.

People who get tattooed in regulated and licensed facilities don’t have to wait to donate blood.

Restrictions on who can donate blood and when are in place to help protect recipients from potentially dangerous diseases.

People who need blood transfusions may already be very ill and contracting a contagious disease could kill them.

The regulations also protect blood donors. Some people, such as those with anemia, may experience unwanted symptoms when donating blood.

Some restrictions on donating blood in the United States include:

  • infections. People with symptoms of infection should seek treatment before donating blood.
  • Bleeding disorder. People with certain bleeding disorders may not be able to donate blood safely.
  • Blood transfusion. People who have received a blood transfusion must wait a year before donating blood.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. People with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or a similar condition cannot donate blood.
  • Men who have sex with men. Men who have sex with men, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, must wait 12 months after their last sex before donating blood. The American Red Cross is campaigning for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reduce this time frame to 3 months.
  • Ebola virus. People who have already had Ebola cannot donate blood.
  • Hepatitis. People who have or have ever had hepatitis B or C cannot donate blood. People who live or have sex with someone who has hepatitis should wait 12 months before donating.
  • HIV. People living with HIV or AIDS, and those who have already tested positive for HIV, should not donate blood. People at high risk for HIV should discuss their risk with the health historian at the blood donation center to determine whether or not they can donate blood.
  • Intravenous (IV) drug use. People who have used recreational intravenous drugs in the past cannot donate blood.
  • To travel. People who have traveled to countries where certain diseases are prevalent may also have to wait to donate blood. For example, following a trip to a country with a high risk of malaria, a person must wait 12 months before donating blood.
  • Organ and tissue transplants. Organ recipients must wait a year before donating blood.
  • Piercings. It is safe to donate blood after getting a piercing, as long as the needles were sterile and the piercing did not involve a piercing gun. If the piercer used a gun or the instruments were not sterile, wait 12 months.
  • Sexually transmitted infections. People with gonorrhea or syphilis must wait 12 months after treatment to donate blood. Chlamydia, herpes, human papilloma virus and genital warts do not prohibit donation.
  • Sickle cell disease. People with sickle cell disease cannot donate blood, but those with sickle cell trait can.
  • Tuberculosis. People with active TB should not donate blood until the infection has cleared.
  • Zika virus. A person must wait 120 days after symptoms of Zika disappear to donate blood.

Blood donation can save many lives. Even young, healthy people may need blood after bleeding from sudden falls, childbirth, or traffic accidents.

In the United States, a person needs blood every 3 seconds, requiring approximately 32,000 pints of blood per day. An estimated 4.5 million people in the United States would die each year without a blood transfusion, so hospitals need a steady supply.

However, less than 38% of the US population meets the eligibility criteria to donate blood at any given time. Don’t rely on anyone else, as most people can’t donate.

Donating blood saves lives. Even with a recent tattoo, many people can still donate blood.

Some states have different regulations and may require a person to wait 12 months before donating.

Check with the local American Red Cross for information on upcoming blood drives.


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