Valentine’s Day is a popular time to get tattoos, particularly for couples. Tattoo artists say that when it comes to proclaiming feelings of love, more couples are ditching the flowers and saying it with skin these days.
For some, there is still the fear of “tattoo regret” should the relationship fail to work out, but tattoo artists have learned ways to ease that fear. Today, you can get couple tattoos that can still exist independently from one another, so you have the meaning of the two together for as long as you want it, but it’s not disastrous should the relationship run its course.
That means if you want to get a couple’s tattoo this Valentine’s Day, you can feel even more confident about doing so. We do want you to be prepared, though, for the healing process. Whatever sort of tattoo you get, it causes injury to the skin, which means it’s going to take time for it to recover.
Below, we have tips to help you speed up the healing and reduce any side effects of getting a tattoo.
How to Choose a Good Tattoo Shop
First, be sure you go to an experienced, reputable tattoo artist who is licensed in your state. If you don’t see a license, ask to see it. Then make sure the shop is clean and hygienic. There should be no blood splatter, dirty work surfaces, or other messy areas. If the area looks dirty or unkempt, go to another shop.
The artist should use all new needles, so check to be sure they are in sealed containers before they are set up for use on you. The shop should have a sterilization machine used to clean equipment as well, and the tattoo artist should wear new gloves for each client. Ink dispensers should all be disinfected or discarded and replaced between customers.
Though getting a tattoo from a reputable shop can be completely safe, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers. Health risks may include skin infections, allergic reactions (to the ink), and blood-borne diseases. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate tattoo inks, which means they may contain impurities that can be toxic.
Ask your tattoo artist where he or she gets her ink. It’s best if it comes from a large manufacturer that has been in business for a long time. Inks made with nonmetallic, organic pigments are considered even safer. Your tattoo artist should place the ink in a single-use cup and then dispose of that cup when finished. Ink should never be returned to another bottle after use.
Choose an area of healthy, unbroken skin for the tattoo. The area should be free of moles, scars, cuts, or other skin issues. Anytime you pierce the skin, you run the risk of infection, so you want to start with a clean slate.
How to Encourage Normal Tattoo Healing
After you get the tattoo, the skin will form scabs and start to heal. You want to keep the area clean, so use plain soap and water and a gentle touch—don’t scrub too hard, and pat, don’t rub, the area dry. It’s best to avoid soaking baths, however, and stick to short showers so you don’t over-wet the area.
Avoid moisturizers with petrolatum—they’re not only drying over the long-term, but they can fade some inks. Our Body Repair Lotion is a great option, by the way, for soothing the area and helping to encourage healing.
Protect your skin from the sun—UV rays can cause damage, distort your tattoo, and in some people, cause an allergic reaction with the ink. Always cover the area with a clean bandage any time you go out in the sun until the tattoo has completely healed. Stay out of tanning beds and away from sunlamps, too. Once the area has healed, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
During normal healing, you’re likely to notice some itching. It’s important to resist scratching, as that can cause more irritation and lead to infection. It can also remove the scabs too early, which can result in scarring and may interfere with the ink placement, ruining the artwork.
Apply anti-itch ointments or creams whenever needed, or use ice packs if the itching gets intense. It should subside within 1-2 weeks.
After Getting a Tattoo, Watch Out for These Issues
In most cases, your skin will heal just fine, but in some cases, there may be complications.
This is the most common complication and can occur if the needles were not sterile, or of bacteria gets into the wound in some other way. Look for redness that spreads and gets worse with time, red streaks in the skin, red bumps that are itchy and painful, and pain that gets worse. If you notice these symptoms, see your doctor right away.
Some people are sensitive to tattoo inks and may suffer an allergic reaction when exposed to them. This doesn’t always happen right away—it might be weeks or months later that you develop this allergy. The American Academy of Dermatology states that red ink seems to cause the most allergic reactions—in some cases because they may contain toxic metals.
Look for a skin rash, itching, redness, blisters, crusting or flaking, raised scaly skin, and clear fluid coming from the tattoo. If the symptoms are mild, they will probably go away on their own, but if it doesn’t get better in a few days, see your doctor.
Signs of a severe reaction include trouble breathing, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, and severe swelling. In these circumstances, don’t wait—get emergency medical assistance immediately.
If you have psoriasis in your family, getting a tattoo may trigger a psoriasis flare, or cause it to appear for the first time. Usually, if it’s going to show up, it does so within the first 3-20 days of getting the tattoo.
Look for red, scaly patches on the skin that are itchy and painful. If you see these, check with a dermatologist for treatment.
If you have eczema, a tattoo may trigger a flare-up, so you may want to speak to your doctor before getting one. It may also help to ask your tattoo artist about using inks for sensitive skin. If you go ahead and get the tattoo and a flare-up occurs, avoid using products that contain fragrances or alcohol, as they can make eczema worse. Use our Body Repair Lotion instead.
Safety First with Any Tattoo!
As long as you take precautions and watch your skin carefully, you and your partner should be able to enjoy getting tattoos on Valentine’s Day. Plan ahead, get the right products to take care of your skin, then sit back and…relax if you can!
Have you gotten a tattoo on Valentine’s Day?
AAD. “Tattoos: 7 Unexpected Skin Reactions and What to Do About Them.” American Academy of Dermatology. Accessed December 19, 2019. https://www.aad.org/skin-care-basics/tattoo-skin-reactions.