Tattoos are art and expression; they can bring a message of life, take us to a remarkable moment, remind us of special people… But the real question is: Can I get a tattoo if I have psoriasis? If you have psoriasis and are thinking about getting a tattoo, it is important to understand the risks involved with this procedure.
A tattoo is possible, but it may not be the right choice for everyone who has psoriasis.
The main risk of getting a tattoo for people with psoriasis is the appearance of psoriatic lesions caused by trauma. Any trauma that occurs to the skin, such as a cut, an insect bite, or sunburn, can cause psoriasis lesions.
Body tattoos are increasingly popular, with significant annual growth. One of the advantages of this increase is the improvement of techniques and products used in their design.
Needles become more ergonomic, machines more efficient, and even paints become less toxic to the skin. We can observe this in the popularity of the use of vegan paints.
In the past, tattoos were often related to pathologies such as HIV, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, and C. E., but there are always some associated risks.
Nowadays, when done in official and credible stores, with good hygienic conditions and proper material, side effects are rare.
But nevertheless, you should ignore the possible consequences that might happen.
Why Tattoos Can Trigger Psoriasis?
The tattoo traumatizes the skin. When the pigment (a foreign element to the skin) is introduced repeatedly into the dermis using needles, it can trigger a series of inflammatory responses, some more acute than others.
For that, we need to consider the type of skin, the body area, healing problems caused by diabetes or a simple tendency to form keloids, or even the appearance or worsening of some systemic pathology such as Psoriasis.
Let’s look more particularly at Psoriasis triggers. Many people want to hide their stains caused by psoriasis. It is important to clarify that tattoos cannot cover the skin’s scaly patches caused by the disease.
If you have psoriasis, have never heard of the Koëbner phenomenon, and want to get a tattoo, it is important to know that when you cause trauma to the skin, further psoriasis lesions can be triggered.
What Is the Koëbner Phenomenon?
The Koebner phenomenon occurs in about 25% of people with psoriasis who suffer from skin trauma. Lesions usually appear 10 to 20 days after the trauma.
When you do the tattoo, and the skin is traumatized, skin lesions identical to those already existing elsewhere in the body appear; the appearance of these lesions usually occurs shortly after the trauma; however, there are several cases in which the lesions are only triggered a few years after the tattoo.
And since tattoos always cause skin trauma, people with psoriasis can develop lesions in and around the tattoo. Regardless of psoriasis, tattoos increase the risk of infection and contamination (which can include HIV, hepatitis B or C, and tetanus).
Also, an allergic reaction to used ink can occur, which contributes to activating the immune system and causing a series of inflammatory reactions, making psoriasis lesions worse.
Unfortunately, doctors are still unable to predict who will have this type of reaction. But if your psoriasis has been triggered by skin trauma in the past, you should think twice before getting a tattoo. The Koebner phenomenon may be a problem if you have active psoriasis, the recommendation is to avoid getting a tattoo during this phase.
Therefore, it is best to evaluate tattooing risks and benefits with great care for those with the disease. A consultation with your dermatologist and a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of tattooing with psoriasis are essential.
What Are the Risks of Getting a Tattoo?
If you decide to get a tattoo, even if you have a psoriasis condition, know some information beforehand to reduce the risks!
Caution and pondering is always suggested.
- Psoriasis stains can be treated medically and ultimately covered with clothing or makeup (biological or anti-allergic makeup is advised).
- Tattooing is an increasingly banalized and safe procedure for the skin, but you should not rule out the particular aspects that make the skin more or less sensitive to trauma, thus more or less suitable for tattoos.
- People with pigment allergies, Psoriasis, Vitiligo, Diabetes should think long before getting a tattoo. People with other pathologies, such as epileptics or hemophiliacs, should think about it as well.
Talk to your dermatologist, no one better than him will know how to analyze your case.
Do I Need to See a Doctor Before a Tattoo if I Have Psoriasis?
It is imperative to talk to your doctor about the tattoo’s risks, your specific type of psoriasis, and the treatment you are using.
Follow with him the severity of your psoriasis and the response you are having with the proposed treatments.
- For this, you can use tools such as DLQI (Dermatology Life Quality Index) and, with your doctor, PASI (Psoriasis Area Severity Index).
- If you can reach a middle term that works for you and your doctor, then go ahead and start investigating the type of tattoo you want and some safe stores that you can do it.
- Look for tattooists and reliable studios: obey sanitary regulations, possess quality material, disposable (needles and gloves), and sterilized in an autoclave. Check if the studio is clean and uses adequate hygienic processes.
You can check the licensing of the parlor before you get your Psoriasis tattoos done. This way, you will know that you are putting your safety first and that your tattoo parlor has the necessary equipment to perform the tattoo without risks.
Make sure that the artist working in the parlor has his own equipment and a sterile method of cleaning the tattoo site.
- Check the material before use: Observe if the inks are used from new individual jars and not from a multipurpose bottle.
- Many body parts where psoriasis is common, such as the scalp, elbows, and knees, are not suitable places for tattoos.
The most common problem that people face after their tattoos are dry skin, so you should also make sure that your tattoos are not overdone because this will lead to skin irritation.
You must keep in mind that the tattoo is a statement on the body, something you don’t want to hide. If you desire to cover up the marks of psoriasis, clothes and makeup are better, and they are non-permanent options, which is handy when your psoriasis is gone.
Take care of the skin after tattooing and follow the precaution instructions for the tattoo’s precise healing.
What Care Do You Need to Have After You Get the Tattoo Done?
- Clean regularly and choose your washing soap well.
After performing a tattoo, it is recommended to wash it with soap that has a neutral pH. As for the frequency, this depends a lot on the skin type; the important thing is that the tattooed zone stays clean.
- Hydrate with Vaseline or Coconut Oil
It is essential the use of moisturizers or scaring depending on the tattoo and skin. Please keep it clean with a waterproof film dressing that can protect against impacts, dirt, or other external aggressions.
This dressing should remain up to 4 days on the skin, ensuring a protection or anti-bacterial barrier.
- Respect healing time
An average tattoo heals in 15 days, depending on person to person. But in reality, it is only after 30 days that we can say that it is totally healed.
Our cells renew every 30 days in the case of skin without pathologies. The worst mistake of all is not to respect the healing time and go to the beach or pool.
It would be best if you have a real sense of the risk you are taking. Your tattoo is an open wound. Anything can infect it.
It’s only 15 days that dictate the final result of a tattoo for the rest of your life.
- Stay away from the sun
During the first 15 days, do not expose your skin to the sun or solarium. Direct sunlight should be avoided since it can cause burns with ease since the skin is much more sensitive.
- Avoid long hot baths and pools
Long hot baths should be avoided during the healing process; do a warm shower instead. Constant softening of the skin can lead to loss of color. Swimming pools, sea or lakes, are not recommended during this period because there is a greater propensity for tattooed skin infection.
- Don’t go to the gym (for real!)
Avoid perspiration, because sweat, bacteria, and dirt can cause inflammation, and should avoid physical activities during the healing process.
- Wear wide clothes
Avoid wearing too tight clothes that can irritate newly tattooed skin, tight clothes won’t allow the skin to breathe properly, and friction can cause bleeding and infection.
- Scratching is strictly prohibited
Itching is something that can happen. Itching is the lack of hydration. If the tattooed area is not moisturized, the urge to scratch will appear.
Unfortunately, bad technique on the part of the tattooist, such as bad pigment introduction, can cause some discomfort/pruritus.
At worst, if you have low immunity at that time, you may also suffer some increased discomfort.
- Moisturize and protect from the sun forever
Fortunately, tattoo paints have evolved a lot, and today a good tattoo artist uses good paints. In the past, tattoos tended to turn green, blue, among other colors, instead of black, as time went by.
Nowadays, this does not happen, because there are paints that keep the pigment intact. However, it is essential to count on your collaboration.
It is undoubtedly teamwork between you and the tattooer. If you have an incredible tattoo, but you don’t follow the safety recommendations, the result will not be the desired one.
Hydration and protection from the sun are still two of the essential care to be taken into consideration so that the result in the medium and long term is the best possible.
If, even after these precautions, any unwanted reaction appears after the tattoo, seek your dermatologist immediately. He will be able to help you with the best way to manage your psoriasis!
Healthline. Are Tattoos Safe for People with Psoriasis? https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/tattoos#1 Last update October 2017. Revicki DA, Willian MK, Menter et al. Relationship between clinical response to therapy and health-related quality of life outcomes in patients with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Dermatology. 2008;216(3):260-70. Orzan OA, Popa LG, Vexler ES et al. Tattoo-induced psoriasis. J Med Life. 2014; 7(Spec Iss 2): 65–68. WebMD. What is the Koebner Phenomenon? https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/koebner-phenomenon#1 Last update October 2017. EMEA – CHMP. Guideline on Clinical Investigation of Medicinal Products Indicated for the Treatment of Psoriasis. http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2009/09/WC500003329.pdf Last update October 2017.