Tattoos express a wide variety of interests and tastes. They are used to express a person’s beliefs, desires, and opinions. For many people, getting a tattoo is much more than choosing to apply permanent ink to their bodies.

However, getting a tattoo has risks. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers that getting a tattoo can result in allergies, scarring, infections, bumps, and MRI complications. 

One of the most serious risks of getting a tattoo is the potential for infections. Some infections could result in life-threatening conditions. If the tattoo infection resulted from negligence or wrongdoing by another party, it could result in a personal injury claim against the responsible party.

Causes of Tattoo Infections

Three of the most common types of tattoo infections are Streptococcus, Nontuberculous Mycobacteria, and Staphylococcus. However, numerous viral and bacterial infections could develop because of a tattoo.

Several situations can lead to tattoo infections. Common sources of infections from tattoos include, but are not limited to:

  • Using unsterilized tools
  • Reusing razors, needles, or other equipment
  • Failing to practice good hygiene, such as using clean gloves, washing hands, using sterilized water, etc.
  • Using expired tattoo ink
  • Failing to sanitize the skin before beginning the tattoo
  • Using contaminated ink
  • Failing to maintain sterilized and clean premises
  • Using a DIY tattoo kit
  • Improper aftercare, including cleansing, wraps, ointments, etc.

Individuals need to follow all aftercare instructions to reduce the risk of a tattoo infection. If there are any signs of infection, immediate medical treatment may be necessary to prevent a life-threatening condition.

Symptoms and Signs Your Tattoo Could Be Infected 

Signs to watch for that could indicate you have a tattoo infection include:

  • Rash or red lesions around the tattooed area
  • Fever
  • Red bumpy skin
  • Swelling of the tattooed area or around the tattooed area
  • Abscesses or blisters
  • Pus coming from the tattooed area
  • Foul odor
  • Sores forming around the tattooed area
  • Vomiting, nausea, or diarrhea
  • Pains and aches in the joints, muscles, or bones

Signs of infection indicate that you need immediate medical attention. Some infections, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), can be difficult to treat. 

If left untreated, infections from tattoos could enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis. Sepsis could result in various organs shutting down. In some cases, sepsis can result in permanent impairments or death.

Other conditions could develop because of a tattoo infection. Depending on the type of bacteria, a person could develop viral hepatitis, cellulitis, HIV, impetigo, syphilis, herpes, or viral warts. It is never wise to ignore or delay medical treatment if you notice any signs or symptoms of infection.

Many infections caused by tattoos can be successfully treated with antibiotics if the person seeks prompt medical treatment. However, even a minor infection could result in pain, emotional distress, medical bills, and income loss. You might be entitled to compensation for these types of damages. Depending on the cause of the infection, you may have a negligence claim against the tattoo artist, the tattoo parlor, or a manufacturer. 

The key to recovering compensation for a tattoo infection is a thorough investigation into how the infection developed. A personal injury lawyer reviews the facts of the case to determine who is responsible for the infection.

For example, if the tattoo artist used dirty needs or did not clean the skin, he could be responsible for your injury. The tattoo parlor could be liable for failing to verify an employee’s experience and credentials or failing to monitor the premises and employees adequately. Manufacturers might be liable under product liability laws if the ink was contaminated or tattooing equipment was defective. 

Releases and Waivers for Tattoos

The tattoo artist and establishment usually require that clients sign a waiver and release before receiving a tattoo. The document states that you assume the risks of receiving a tattoo and release the artist and the establishment from any and all liability for damages or harm.

There is an inherent risk of having ink injected into your skin. Therefore, you do assume some of the risks if something goes wrong. However, these releases may not be valid when the person breaks the law or violates the health code. They also do not generally cover instances involving gross negligence or intentional wrongdoing.

You should have been given a copy of the release you signed. If so, you can take the release and other documents to a personal injury lawyer for review. A lawyer can tell you whether you have a claim for negligence or wrongdoing for a tattoo infection.

If the tattoo artist or another party was negligent, you could receive compensation for your damages. Damages would include permanent impairments caused by the infection. You could also receive compensation for your financial losses and other damages.