Contraindications to Getting a Tattoo

By | January 13, 2014

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Most of the time, getting a tattoo should be a safe and exciting experience. There are times to hold off on the tattoo urge, however. An individual considering a tattoo has many things to think about. What image or words will stand the test of time? On what area of the body should the tattoo be applied? But there are other important things to factor into the equation.

Choosing a Tattoo Artist and Shop

One of the most important things about getting a tattoo is to choose a clean shop that follows sanitary and health guidelines and has properly trained artists. Someone getting a tattoo should always be comfortable with the shop and the person who will be applying the tattoo. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution and look for a different shop or artist if uncomfortable.

Health Issues to Consider Before a Tattoo

Bill McNulty, owner and operator of Eternal Grafix in Newton, New Jersey, has some tips on times to avoid being tattooed. McNulty, who has over eleven years experience as a tattoo artist and piercer, has the following suggestions.

“Anyone who has an open sore or lesion should wait until it heals before getting work done. Pregnant women should also avoid tattoos until after delivery, and those who take blood thinners should never be tattooed while taking these medications. Anyone who is sick should wait until they feel better before getting a tattoo, and diabetics may heal slower, and so should ask their doctor if it’s okay before getting tattooed.”

There are good reasons for these suggestions. Blood thinning medications can cause excessive bleeding while being tattooed, and a person who is sick may heal slower, as the body is trying to recover from both an illness and the tattoo, as well as possibly putting the tattoo artist at risk of contracting the illness from the close contact with someone who is ill.

Pregnant women tend to have decreased immune systems, which can make the risk for infection greater from a tattoo, according to There is also a chance of fainting during a tattoo, and anything that may cause a pregnant woman to fall or injure herself should be avoided when possible.

A person under the influence of alcohol should never get a tattoo, as alcohol, in addition to impairing judgement on something very permanent, may also cause excessive bleeding during a tattoo. Reputable artists will not work on anyone who appears to be under the influence anyway.

For most people, getting a tattoo in a hygienic environment by a trained professional should not pose a great health risk. However, certain medications and health conditions can impact the safety of tattoos, such as illness, pregnancy and those who are under the influence. When in doubt, consult a doctor beforehand about any medical concerns, and to avoid infection afterwards, follow tattoo artist instructions for keeping tattoo clean during healing.

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