All About Tattoo Infections

Missouri has regulated tattoo artists and tattoo parlors since 1998. Before then, getting a tattoo was risky. Some diseases, like hepatitis, syphilis, and HIV, can be transmitted through a tattoo needle. Since sterile procedures were not required before regulation, infections were common.

Since 1998, the state has required licensed tattoo artists and parlors to adhere to the state’s standards of practice. If they violate these standards, the state can issue an order to correct the violations. For serious or repeated violations and noncompliance, the state can take disciplinary action.

The result of these regulations has been to make tattoos much safer. However, infections still can happen. In many situations, you can trace these infections to negligence by the artist, parlor, or equipment manufacturer.

Here is some information about tattoo infections and who may bear liability for them.

How Tattoos Work

Your skin has three layers. The top layer, called the epidermis, protects your body from microorganisms entering and causing an infection. The epidermis also holds the pigment that gives your skin its color.

The middle layer, called the dermis, makes up 90% of the skin’s thickness. It contains the blood vessels that feed your skin. It also contains all of the nerves that help you to sense:

  • Pain
  • Texture
  • Pressure
  • Temperature

The bottom layer, called the hypodermis, contains fatty tissue. It insulates your body and supports the blood vessels and nerves that run to the dermis.

Tattoo artists create a tattoo by using a needle that deposits ink molecules into the dermis. There, the ink gets encapsulated by macrophages. These special white blood cells capture and destroy bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.

When ink molecules are enveloped in macrophages, they produce a permanent skin design because the macrophages cannot destroy them. 

Tattoo Infections

Since tattoo needles pierce the epidermis, they breach the body’s normal defenses against bacteria. This can lead to infection in two ways:

  • Tattoo equipment carries bacteria into the skin
  • Bacteria enter the skin through the tiny holes made by the tattoo equipment

Not every infection happens at the tattoo parlor. While dirty equipment can cause an infection, you can also get an infection through improper aftercare.

Symptoms of Tattoo Infections

Infections happen when bacteria get into the body. The bacteria release chemicals that make you ill. The body fights the infection by rushing white blood cells to the infection site and raising your body temperature to destroy the bacteria.

Some common symptoms of tattoo infections include:

  • Pain
  • Fever, including the area around the tattoo
  • Chills
  • Swelling
  • Skin redness, rashes, or bumps
  • Pus or other discharge

If you suspect a tattoo infection, you should seek medical attention. Infection can damage the skin and underlying tissue.

Depending on the severity of the infection, it may cause sepsis. Sepsis happens when an untreated infection triggers a massive immune response from the body. Sepsis can cause septic shock and death.

Treating Tattoo Infections

If caught early, treatment usually includes antibiotics. Doctors may prescribe topical antibiotics to apply directly to the skin. They may also prescribe antibiotic pills or injections.

Sepsis may require hospitalization. Doctors will keep you hydrated and work to prevent septic shock. They will administer powerful antibiotics to fight the infection.

Liability for Tattoo Infections

When you experience personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, you can seek compensation. When you have a tattoo infection, you may not know the source of the infection.

You may need to hire a lawyer to investigate prior complaints against the tattoo artist and parlor. You may also need to think through the tattoo artist’s procedures to identify anything that might have caused the infection. For example, recall whether the tattoo artist wore gloves and cleaned the equipment or not.

Finally, you may need to look into the equipment and supplies the tattoo artist used. Ink and tattoo needles occasionally get recalled because of dangers to customers. If your tattoo artist used defective equipment or supplies, you might have a claim against the manufacturer.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

For more information, please contact Bradley Law Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

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