Tattooing has been a part of human culture for over 5,000 years. Unfortunately, many bacteria that cause infections, such as Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and E. coli, have been around even longer and probably infected many early tattoo recipients.

In the 21st century, tattoo artists and studios follow strict health codes. Until recently, tattoo regulations were handled by local county health boards. But in 2019, Georgia passed a law that set state standards for tattoo artists and their studios. One of the primary goals of these standards is to ensure the safety of tattoos.

Here is an overview of the causes and consequences of tattoo infections.

Tattoo Process

Your skin has three layers. The outer layer, called the epidermis, provides a shield that protects your body from microorganisms and toxins. It also prevents water loss.

The middle layer, called the dermis, provides structure and elasticity to your skin. It supports the blood vessels and nerves that keep your skin alive and healthy. It also supports the hair follicles and sweat glands that help your skin regulate body temperature.

The lower layer, called the hypodermis, contains the fat layer that insulates your body. It also includes the connective tissue that holds your skin to your body.

When you get a tattoo, needles deposit small drops of ink into the dermis. There, the immune system sends immune cells called macrophages to battle and destroy the invading ink particles.

But the ink particles are too big for the macrophages to break down or remove. So instead, the macrophages surround the ink particles to contain them. As macrophages die, the body sends new macrophages to replace them. By surrounding the ink particles across generations, the macrophages hold the ink in place and make the tattoo permanent.

How Tattoo Infections Happen

Tattoos create thousands or even millions of tiny open wounds. Any time your epidermis gets breached, microorganisms can enter your body and cause an infection.

Tattoo artists try to minimize the risk of infections in many ways, including:

  • Disinfecting the skin before tattooing
  • Wearing gloves and masks while working
  • Using sterile or disposable tools
  • Applying ink from a clean source
  • Dressing the tattoo after application
  • Instructing you on how to keep the tattoo clean until it heals

If a tattoo artist takes shortcuts by skipping any of these steps, you face a significantly increased risk of infection.

Consequences of Bacterial Infections

An infection involves both the toxic effects of the bacteria and the body’s response to them. As the bacteria invade the body, they multiply in a warm and moist environment. They compete for resources by releasing toxins that kill your body’s cells and make you sick.

The body triggers an immune response to deal with the invaders. The wounded area swells. Swelling constricts the blood vessels and traps the bacteria in the wound. It also traps the immune cells sent to battle the bacteria so they can fight the infection.

You also experience a fever. The fever could be localized to the wound or affect your entire body. Bacteria cannot handle higher temperatures. This explains why cooking food kills bacteria. It also explains why an increase in body temperature can kill bacteria in a wound.

Between the toxic effects of the bacteria and the swelling and fever triggered by your body to fight them, you can become very sick. You could even develop sepsis, a potentially fatal condition.

Liability for Tattoo Infections

Tattoo infections are not common. But they are a reasonable risk that comes from getting a tattoo. In other words, a tattoo artist can do everything right, and you might still develop a tattoo infection. When this happens, no one bears liability for your infection.

But if your tattoo artist and studio failed to exercise reasonable care while applying your tattoo, you may have a personal injury claim. If you and your injury lawyer can prove negligence, you can get compensation for the resulting medical bills, pain, mental anguish, and disfigurement.

Contact a personal injury lawyer for help if you’ve experienced a tattoo infection. Hawk Law Group offers free consultations to discuss your claim. 

For more information, please contact the personal injury lawyers at Hawk Law Group at our nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve throughout the Central Savannah River Area and it’s surrounding areas:

Hawk Law Group – Augusta, GA
338 Telfair St, Augusta, GA 30901, United States
(706) 722-3500

Hawk Law Group – Evans, GA
4384 River Watch Pkwy, Evans, GA 30809, United States
(706) 863-6500

Hawk Law Group – Thomson, GA
146 Railroad St A, Thomson, GA 30824, United States
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Hawk Law Group – Waynesboro, GA
827 Liberty St, Waynesboro, GA 30830, United States
(706) 437-9122

Hawk Law Group – Aiken County, SC
156 Laurens St NW, Aiken, SC 29801, United States
(803) 226-9089

We also serve in Edgefield County, SC.