The date of your tattoo appointment is rapidly approaching. You’ve been eagerly awaiting this, having already gone through your consultation, worked out the custom design with your artist, and scheduled up your appointment weeks in advance.
The day is creeping up on you and you couldn’t be more excited…
Suddenly, you’re not feeling so hot.
As the appointment quickly approaches, you realize you’re coming down with a cold.
Can you get tattooed with a cold? Will it affect the tattoo? What exactly are the protocols here?
Well, if you’ve been wondering, here’s the skinny on getting inked with a cold.
Immune System Woes
When you are sick, your body takes all of its defenses and essentially goes off to war with the virus. One of the biggest suggestions to getting over an illness is usually to rest, right? This is because resting allows your body to concentrate on what it is doing—fighting your cold.
Now, think about what happens when you get a tattoo. Your body essentially undergoes a form of trauma, as large groups of needles repeatedly penetrate your skin and leave a foreign agent behind—the tattoo ink. Your body responds to the tattoo as it would to any low-grade injury and tries to repair itself and recuperate from the stress it underwent.
If your body is busy trying to combat your cold and you go and add a fresh tattoo, you’re going to confuse your immune system. Which should it battle? What takes priority? Your body won’t be able to distinguish the difference between your illness and your new ink, so what ends up happening is the immune system is then stretched thin—trying to brawl with both your cold and your new ink. This can put a delay in your recovery from the cold, as well as place a delay on the healing time for your new tattoo.
…and what happens when the healing process is delayed or weakened?
You open yourself up for a higher risk of infection.
Pain Tolerance and Focus
In addition to weakening or confusing your immune system, getting a new tattoo while suffering from a cold can be extremely uncomfortable. Your body is preoccupied fighting the invading germs residing in your body, which will lower your pain tolerance substantially. Tattoos are already an uncomfortable process, so lowering your ability to withstand pain is going to make things exceptionally difficult for both you and your tattoo artist. It could even jeopardize the ability to finish the design or session in one sitting, which costs you time and money.
Pain tolerance isn’t the only thing affected by a getting a tattoo while sick. Your ability to focus and sit still is also compromised. Finding that you’re fidgety during the process isn’t just an upset to you, but is actually a horrible experience for your artist. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to create straight lines on a fidgety client??
Don’t Be Selfish
Of course, the last thing to consider when hemming and hawing about getting tattooed while sick is the other people involved. While you’re hacking and sniffing all over the tattoo studio’s sterile environment, you’re putting others at risk of contracting your cold. In addition to possibly infecting any counter staff or other clients that may be in the shop, you’re going to be in close contact with your tattoo artist for an extended period of time. This exposes them to your germs and increases the likelihood that they’ll catch your cold. Tattoo artists don’t get sick days—so if they’re out of work, they’re not going to get paid for that day. Not to mention, if they are highly sought after and have a waiting list, it can back up their appointments and cause all sorts of delays for numerous people.
No matter how eager you are to get your ink, if you find yourself coming down with a cold, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to call and reschedule. Be honest, tell your artist why you’re rescheduling. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.