Reactions to cleaning and aftercare products

ALLERGIC REACTIONS TO CLEANING AND AFTERCARE PRODUCTS

The majority of people whether it is their first tattoo or one of many experience no problems during the healing process. However some people may have an allergic reactions to products used during and after the tattooing process.

Having a reaction affects the way the tattoo looks when it is healing and can be uncomfortable. For most people they will be able to treat the problem at home.

Healing can take longer but the skin will settle and most people will find that their tattoo is unharmed. There may be some touch ups needed but this can occur also for people who have had a problem free healing process.

ALLERGIC REACTIONS
With the increase in the number of people getting tattooed and the increase in sensitivity to products and ingredients there is a small risk that you may be allergic to the cleaning agents used, soaps, latex gloves, the aftercare product and the tattoo ink.

There are two main types of reaction:

Irritant Contact Dermatitis or Allergic Contact Dermatitis.

IRRITANT CONTACT DERMATITIS
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs when the body becomes irritated by the off ending agent damaging the skin. Common causes: soaps, detergents, chemical based or added fragrance products. This can be products used to clean the skin or some types of aftercare/skin care products.  The skin is often more painful than itchy. It can develop a red scaling rash. The area can be tight and red. Pimples can appear. The time taken for the reaction to occur can vary from within a few minutes to over days if the exposure is to a weaker irritant over time i.e. soap.

OTHER POSSIBLE CAUSES of allergic reaction:
Latex Gloves, Medical Tape, Laundry Detergent used to wash your clothes.

ALLERGIC CONTACT DERMATITIS
Allergic Contact Dermatitis happens when a person is allergic to a specific ingredient or ingredients in a product. The scale of the reaction can be from mild irritation to a more serious reaction. The affected area can become red, itchy, and sore, blisters may form. There can be small/large pimples or hives around the area. Allergic reactions can show immediately but can also occur 24-48 hours after contact. The blistered skin can become infected.

TREATMENT
• Stop using any product you are applying to your skin.
• Avoid using any soap or cleanser.
• An over the counter painkiller and anti-histamine tablets can help ease the irritated skin.
• Use ice cubes wrapped in a cotton cover to ease swelling and redness (do not apply ice cubes direct onto the skin)
• A very light application of olive oil for a couple of days can help keep the tattooed skin softened without causing more problems.
• As redness subsides start using an aftercare product which contains skin soothing agents.
• Do not squeeze or pick any blisters. If irritation is prolonged or worsens your doctor will advise best treatment.

ALLERGIC REACTION TO TATTOO INKS
Allergic Reaction to Tattoo Inks – Not overly common but can happen. If you were allergic to the tattoo ink then that area would never fully heal. Certain hues of red blue and greens seem to be the most common colours for allergies and black ink the least.

If after six weeks you are still having problems you may have to consider that you have had a reaction to the ink pigment. If this is the case your doctor will refer you to a dermatologist and they will advise what treatment you will need.

It is also possible not to have any problems then as long as a year later find the tattoo ink starts to blister and come away from your skin. If this happens inform the artist who did your work. You could also register the information on tattoo forum sites. Your doctor will refer you to a dermatologist.

ALLERGIC REACTIONS can vary from a mild irritation to a severe reaction. Having not had a reaction before to a particular product or cleaning agent does not mean that you will never develop an allergy to that product.

 DERMATOLOGY TESTING
 If you think your skin may be more sensitive than normal consider doing a mini-patch test before you use a new product. Apply a small amount of product behind your ear or on your inner wrist and wait 24 hours to see if a reaction occurs.

Bear in mind that broken skin may still produce a result different to your patch test so when you apply your chosen product to newly tattooed skin apply a small amount over the first hour, and if all goes well apply more.

 Check products that state they have dermatology tested.

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