Although it's not common for an infection to take place, it does happen. A tattoo can become infected for a variety of reasons. Before delving into this, please make certain all necessary precautions are being practiced. This means sterile instruments, gloves and that the person receiving the tattoo has clean skin that has also been swiped with a topical antiseptic in preparation. Screening your client is a necessity, not only to help them decide which art they would like to have, but more importantly asking about allergies, keloids and sensitivities for a few. With some it may be best if you do a patch test first.
If a client does become infected, often it will derive from unsterile equipment. Obviously, you never want to reuse any of your needles...period end of that story. I think that we have all at least heard about the contagions that can be spread by blood and tools that have not been properly sterilized. Hep B or C, Tetanus or HIV top this chart. Not only of vital importance to your client but to you. Discard also is important and should be done in an established container such as a Sharps holder, same with your rags/towels - anything with blood on it. State requirements may differ. Dragon Tattoo Supply sells most of your needs here. If you have an autoclave or other means to sterilize instruments, this will ultimately be a great money saver or you will be running through your equipment quickly and at a large expense.
If the tattoo is a bit itchy, it could possibly be an allergic reaction. It can be treated most often with a topical steroid. This is why screening is so important. You need to learn by asking your client some of these sensitivities beforehand. Sometimes they may have thought they were unimportant or simply forgotten until you bring it up. Reactions also need addressed, particularly if your client desires color. Red dyes and yellow dyes are at times the culprit in creating reactions. It is actually not dyes that we are using but liquid pigments that are being injected to the skin. Yellow ink really does not fare well in the sun until the skin is completely healed. Patch testing is recommended prior to tattoo application.
Other clients may react with keloids. A keloid is the skin becoming lifted or raised and often genetic. The severity varies and may need steroidal treatment from a physician. If treated prior to a tattoo, it can at times help prevent the severity of the scar. Some fair better than others and some keloids are more pronounced and larger than others.
As the tattoo artist your client has chosen, they need absolute clarity on home care. If they choose to not follow those instructions, they are subjecting themselves to what could be an avoidable problem. The necessity of keeping their tattoo covered for the amount of time you have told them and explaining the importance of doing this is obviously to be discussed. Exposing their raw skin to the elements such as sun and pollutants, is really a poor idea. Their tattoo is an open wound and should be treated the accordingly. 'Protecting them self from them self' is why you need to 'drive' home their home care.
In practice, it is easy to get into a routine. Make educating your clients part of that routine and fight not getting too comfortable and blast your way through at home instructions. Complacency as is the enemy ~
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