Can you get a tattoo during pregnancy? Security and risks


Tattoos are becoming increasingly popular and some people wonder if they are safe during pregnancy.

A tattoo involves injecting ink into the body, and any time a person introduces a foreign substance into the body, there is a health risk.

Ink colorants often contain metal-based chemicals, and some contain microcontaminants, which can cause adverse reactions.

In addition, tattooing involves breaking the skin. This can sometimes cause an infection.

Before deciding to get a tattoo during pregnancy, it is important to understand the risks and the precautions to take. Keep reading to learn more.

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A person should always ensure that a tattoo artist is a registered practitioner.

There has been little specific research on the safety of getting a tattoo during pregnancy, but taking certain steps can help reduce the risks.

It can help:

  • Make sure the tattoo artist is a licensed practitioner.
  • Inform the tattoo artist of the pregnancy.
  • Evaluate the cleanliness of the premises.
  • Make sure the tattoo artist uses only new or sterilized equipment, including gloves and needles, for each procedure.
  • Ask what the inks contain and if they have been recalled for safety reasons. the Food and drug administration (FDA) also provides this type of information.
  • Ensure all inks are sterile and unopened, possibly collected in single-use cups and discarded after use.
  • Ask the tattoo artist for their contact information, in case any problems arise after the procedure.

A reputable studio and experienced tattoo artist will be happy to address any concerns regarding safety, cleanliness, and other aspects of the procedure.

The main concern with tattooing during pregnancy is the risk of infection.

However, other issues, such as a reaction to the ink, can cause pain and discomfort. Some women choose not to risk increasing their discomfort during pregnancy.

Bacterial infection

According to a 2016 study, 0.5 to 6.0% of people develop an infection following a tattoo.

Although this rate is relatively low, any infection during pregnancy – and any medication to resolve it – can potentially affect the fetus.

Following safety and hygiene guidelines can help reduce the risk of infection. However, this will not help in all cases, for example, if a person reacts to microcontaminants in inks.

It is important to remember that a fresh tattoo is an open wound and therefore susceptible to infection. A person with a weakened immune system may have a higher risk.

A aggressive infection may cause:

  • chills or sweats
  • fever
  • tremor

Around the tattoo, there can be:

  • increased swelling and redness
  • yellow crust
  • evacuation of pus
  • worsening pain

Anyone who has symptoms of infection, especially fever or chills, should get medical attention right away. Not receiving treatment can lead to a more serious problem.

A bacterial infection caused by a tattoo can worsen and turn into cellulitis, which can be painful. The infection can then enter the bloodstream, progressing to bacteremia and eventually sepsis, which can be life-threatening.

In rare cases, an infection caused by a tattoo can develop into necrotizing fasciitis, which is severe and results in soft tissue death.

If any of these complications develop, a person requires treatment with antibiotics. Overall, doctors still don’t know if antibiotics can be used safely during pregnancy.

There is also little research available on the safety of tattoo dyes in pregnant women. These dyes can trigger negative reactions.

Overall, experts aren’t sure exactly how the inks affect people, especially over the long term, and they’re unsure of the effects on fetuses and babies.

Viral infection

If the tattoo artist does not follow strict hygiene procedures, there may be a risk of more serious infections, such as hepatitis or HIV. A pregnant woman can pass either condition on to the baby.

Learn more about tattoos and the risk of infection.

Skin reactions

The dye components can cause an inflammatory reaction, especially in the tattoo area. Different dyes contain different minerals, which give the dyes their color. Depending on the dye, the body’s reaction may vary.

Having a skin reaction during pregnancy can increase discomfort. Corticosteroids can help relieve symptoms of some reactions, but these drugs can not be safe during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

Here are examples of minerals in dyes:

  • Red: mercury sulphide
  • Blue: cobalt aluminate
  • Green: chromic oxide or lead chromate

Because a tattoo is permanent, the reaction can last a long time.

Study participants reported the following adverse events or reactions related to tattoos:

  • swelling
  • scaling
  • itch
  • papules
  • acne
  • healing
  • bleeding

Colored tattoos seem more likely to trigger reactions than black tattoos.

Additionally, the tattooed area may be more sensitive to sunlight than the rest of the skin, and exposure to sunlight can lead to stinging, itching, pain, swelling, and redness. The risk of this reaction appears to vary by ink color and is likely a result of the dye ingredients.

Ink Safety

According to the FDA, some tattoo inks contain pigments used in automotive paint and printer cartridges. The FDA notes that it has “not approved any pigment for injection into the skin for cosmetic purposes.”

They also caution that even a product sealed or marked “sterile” may not be safe.

Anyone wanting a tattoo should consider:

Permanence: A tattoo is a permanent modification of the body. Removal is an option, but experts are always not sure about the effects of ink dispersing in the body.

Shape and location: The body changes shape during pregnancy and stretch marks may remain on the hips, thighs and abdomen. These can affect the appearance of a tattoo.

Epidural during labor: An epidural can ease pain during childbirth, and it’s unclear whether having a tattoo on your lower back poses a risk during this procedure. Experts have expressed concern, but researchers advise anyone who needs an epidural to get one.

Underlying conditions: Anyone with a condition that affects their immune system or ability to heal, such as HIV or diabetes, should consult a doctor before getting a tattoo. These people may have a higher risk of infection.

Here, learn more about living with a weakened immune system.

And the henna?

In some cultures, people apply henna tattoos on their stomachs during the last trimester. Henna is a natural dye that stains the skin for up to 4 weeks.

However, black henna contains para-phenylenediamine, which can damage the skin. It can also cause a severe reaction, with blistering and possibly scarring.

Henna tattoos can be safe during pregnancy, but henna doesn’t have to be black.

The risks of getting a tattoo while breastfeeding are unclear. However, problems can arise if the nursing mother has to use antibiotics.

In addition, in very delicate cases, it is possible to transmit hepatitis or HIV to a breastfed infant, if the nipples crack or bleed.

Some health care providers have expressed concerns about pigments or infections passing through the milk to the infant.

Consequently, according to a publicationthe medical opinion “seems in favor of not having a tattoo redone while breastfeeding”.

There isn’t enough evidence to say whether it’s a good idea to get a tattoo while pregnant.

People can take precautions to minimize the risk of complications, but there are no guarantees against infections and other problems.

Speak with a doctor before getting a tattoo while pregnant. Waiting until the baby is born and breastfeeding is over can ensure that any complications from a tattoo will not affect the child.


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