Tattoo Flu: Symptoms and 10 Tips to Avoid It

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Getting a tattoo is a big deal because it’s something that will be with you for life. There are many things to consider, like where to get it, who to do it, and how much it will hurt.

If you’ve never gotten one before, you might be nervous about the pain and choosing a design that you’ll be happy with forever.

Something you might not know is that getting a tattoo can actually make you feel sick.

This is sometimes called “tattoo flu,” and it’s important to know what it is and how to deal with it.

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What is Tattoo Flu?

Tattoo flu is a term used to describe the temporary sickness and fatigue that some people may experience after getting a tattoo. It’s caused by the trauma to the body from the tattooing process, which triggers the immune system response and can weaken the overall immune system.

Getting a tattoo can be tough on your body since it’s essentially a traumatic experience. When you get a tattoo, your skin becomes an open wound that your body needs to heal. Your white blood cells have to work hard to remove any excess ink.

How getting a tattoo affects your body

When you get a tattoo, it can have the following effects on your body:

  • Your body may experience a burst of adrenaline, which is part of the “fight or flight” response. This is triggered by the lymphatic system, a part of your immune system that helps you fight off infections.
  • The repeated pain from the tattooing process can cause stress and tension, which, when coupled with adrenaline, can kick your immune system into high gear.
  • However, because your immune system is working hard to heal your tattoo, it may become weaker overall.

Tattoo Flu: Symptoms

Tattoo flu can make you feel generally unwell, but according a study published in the Journal Contact Dermatitis there are some specific symptoms you should be aware of, including:

  • Running a fever.
  • Feeling chilly or having the chills.
  • Feeling tired, fatigued, or generally unwell.
  • Experiencing soreness, not just in the tattooed area.
  • Feeling weak.
  • Experiencing swelling around the tattoo.
  • In some cases, having problems with your digestive system, such as diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.

How Long Does Tattoo Flu Last?

Usually, tattoo flu only lasts for a day or two. If it lasts for longer, you should consider getting medical attention. You can treat the symptoms of tattoo flu with common medications used to treat cold or flu, or just wait for it to go away on its own.

How Do I Know It’s Not an Infection?

If your symptoms disappear within two days, it’s probably not an infection. But if your symptoms get worse, don’t improve, or stick around, you may have an infection or be allergic to the ink.

Some signs of a more severe infection include:

  • Your tattoo continues to ooze and bleed more than 24 hours after getting it.
  • You develop a rash, redness, soreness, or bumps in the tattooed area.
  • Your tattoo stays wet and doesn’t dry out.
  • You experience increasing pain in the tattooed area.

If you notice the swelling and drainage getting worse, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

How Do I Avoid Tattoo Flu? – 10 Simple Tips

Here are 10 tips to help you avoid getting tattoo flu:

1# Rest well

Get plenty of rest before your appointment.

2# Eat properly

Eat nutritious food in the days leading up to your appointment, as vitamins and minerals are important for your body to recover.

3# Consider multivitamin use

Consider taking a multivitamin for a few days before your appointment.

4# Stay hydrated

Stay hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after your tattoo session. This is always a good idea, but especially important for avoiding tattoo flu.

5# Eat often

Make sure to eat a meal before your appointment and have a snack during the tattooing process.

6# Avoid alcohol and/or any substances

Avoid getting a tattoo while under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs, legal or illegal. They can make you bleed more and increase the likelihood of feeling sick during and after the session.

7# Inform your artist about your medication

Let your tattoo artist know if you’re taking any medications.

8# If you feel under the weather, wait

Don’t get a tattoo if you’re already feeling sick, as this can make the symptoms of tattoo flu much worse.

9# Be extra careful with a weak immune system

If you have a weakened immune system, talk to your doctor before getting a tattoo.

10# Follow your artist’s advice

Follow all aftercare instructions that your tattoo artist gives you. You can learn more about proper aftercare techniques for your tattoo to avoid getting tattoo flu. For more details, check our professional tattoo aftercare instructions based on science.

Read also: Best Tattoo Bandages For Tattoo Protection

Will Tattoo Flu Keep Happening?

Tattoo flu is usually the worst when you get your first tattoo. If you get it again after getting more tattoos, it should be less severe.

Bottom Line

The bottom line about tattoo flu is that it’s a natural immune response to getting a tattoo. There are some simple things you should do to prepare for a tattoo, like eating, drinking water, and getting enough rest. Proper aftercare is also important to ensure that your tattoo heals properly. It’s important not to drink alcohol before getting a tattoo.

If you do get tattoo flu, it should only last a couple of days. Keep an eye out for symptoms of infection, just in case.

Don’t let the fear of tattoo flu keep you from getting a tattoo. Although it might be uncomfortable for a few days, it’s worth it if you’re excited about making a permanent change to your body. Remember that the flu and COVID-19 are much bigger threats to your health than tattoo flu.


Is it normal to get a fever after getting a tattoo?

It’s not normal to get a fever after getting a tattoo, but it can happen in rare cases. A fever is usually a sign of an infection, which can be caused by improper aftercare, unsterilized equipment, or an allergic reaction to the ink. If you do develop a fever after getting a tattoo, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

What can happen if you get a tattoo while sick?

Getting a tattoo while sick can lead to complications and delay healing. When you’re sick, your immune system is weakened, making it harder to fight off infections. This increases the risk of infection at the tattoo site, which can cause more serious problems. Additionally, some medications taken while sick can affect how your body reacts to the tattoo ink and impact the healing process. It’s best to wait until you’re fully recovered before getting a tattoo to reduce the risk of complications and ensure proper healing.

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