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What Is Tattoo Flu? How To Get Rid Of This Condition?

By Dr. Luna Rey

Updated On

This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Getting a tattoo is a fascinating way of self-expression. Tattoos stand as a symbol of hope, survival, and healing. When it comes to the tapestry of tattoos, it can weave incredible artistic elements. But beyond the excitement and beauty, tattoos can be a potential health concern.

Some people may feel sick after getting a new tattoo, and this phenomenon is called ‘tattoo flu’.  This article embarks on a journey to explore all the aspects of tattoo flu including its signs, treatments, and risk factors. Keep reading to find out what you need to do next time you get a tattoo to prevent an infection. 

Key takeaways:

Tattoo flu, also known as post-tattoo infection or tattoo-related illness, is a condition that can occur after getting a tattoo.
Symptoms typically include redness, swelling, warmth, and pain around the tattooed area, and also resemble flu-like signs such as fever, chills, and fatigue.
Treatment for tattoo flu usually involves proper wound care, including keeping the tattoo clean and dry, applying antibiotic ointment as prescribed, etc. Nevertheless, opting for preventive measures before getting the tattoo is recommended.

Tattoo Flu: What Exactly Is This?

If you experience a feeling of sickness after getting a new tattoo, you have tattoo flu. It is also referred to as tattoo sickness or post-tattoo infection. The symptoms may typically resemble mild flu. You will experience certain symptoms as a result of the body’s natural defense to needle punctures.

Tattoo Flu

When you get a tattoo the ink is inserted through a needle, the repeated pricking and the introduction of ink will alert the immune system to destroy the foreign invader ie, the ink.  Following the guidance and instructions of your artist can help you minimize the risk of infection. 

Symptoms Associated With Tattoo Flu

As mentioned earlier, the symptoms may mildly resemble flu. Some of the  common symptoms are:

  • Mild fever
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • nausea/vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Diarrhea/constipation

A person may experience these symptoms after hours of getting a tattoo. In some cases, people may develop the signs of tattoo flu during the session itself. If any of the symptoms get worse or you start to show signs of severe infection, seek the help of your medical health professional. 

The Chief Risk Factors Of Tattoo Flu

Some of the major risk factors associated with getting a tattoo are:


Following a good hygiene practice is necessary after getting a new ink. Inking a tattoo involves repeated needle puncturing. The process creates an open wound that is prone to bacterial or viral infections. If you get a tattoo in an unhygienic environment will also lead to the development of infection. 

🚫Allergic Reactions

The ink might trigger an allergic response in certain people. Besides the ink, the tools and materials used during the tattooing can also trigger an allergic response. A person will undergo flu-like symptoms while having an allergic reaction. 

🚫Immune Response

Your immune system is designed to attack any foreign materials. According to the University of California, Riverside, the ink used for tattooing will trigger an immune response. Additionally, the immune system may react to the trauma of getting a tattoo. 

Treatment And Prevention Tips For Tattoo Flu Condition

Dealing with tattoo flu typically necessitates thorough wound maintenance, which involves keeping the tattoo area clean and dry, applying prescribed antibiotic ointment, and covering it with a sterile bandage. Give yourself some rest if you have a post-tattoo infection. Do not engage in heavy work immediately after tattooing.

Give complete rest to your body and follow the post-care instructions of your tattoo artist as well. If you experience a high fever, you can take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It may take 1 to 2 days to see relief in the symptoms. However, if you see signs of severe infection, such as high fever, chills, diarrhea, puss oozing from the tattoo, or vomiting consult your doctor as soon as possible. 

You can mitigate the risk of experiencing tattoo sickness and other complications like allergies or chest congestion if you follow certain measures as reported by Florida Health

Choose Your Artist Wisely 

You need to select a reputable artist to get a new ink. Make sure the artist has the license and enough experience. If your artist does not follow a strict hygiene practice do not get a tattoo. Also, make sure to not have a tattoo blowout occurrence which might also lead to unwanted allergies. An unhygienic environment and unsterilized equipment can lead to a lot of health complications. 

Follow Aftercare 

Carefully follow the aftercare instructions given by your tattoo artists. Do not make any compromises with aftercare. Your tattoo is an open wound so bad post-care will lead to serious cases of infections. A good aftercare process will promote faster healing as well.

Drink Plenty of Water

Stay hydrated! Drink plenty of water before and after tattooing. Staying hydrated will help to support the healing process. Water helps to transport nutrients needed for skin repair and effective regeneration. 

Monitor Symptoms

You can get psyched about getting a new tattoo, but be cautious of signs of infections or allergic reactions. Monitoring your symptoms may limit the risk of potential health concerns. It will help to seek medical care at the right time. 

Also read: Is Microblading Safe? Understanding The Risks!

Summing Up

Tattoo flu is not a matter of serious health concern and the symptoms will often resolve on its own without any treatment. You can prevent the risk of tattoo flu by taking proper measures.

Consulting a reputed artist, and following adequate aftercare play a vital role in mitigating the chances of feeling under the weather after inking. If any symptoms persist or get worse, immediately consult your healthcare provider. 


1. How long does the tattoo flu last?

It usually lasts for a few days to a week

2. Is it normal to feel tired after a tattoo?

It’s typical to feel fatigued following a tattoo session. The experience of getting inked can drain both the body and mind for certain individuals.

3. Are tattoos bad for your immune system?

When done in a clean and professional environment, it typically doesn’t pose a significant risk to the immune system. However, the process does involve puncturing the skin, which can introduce foreign substances into the body.

4. Is tattoo flu serious?

It isn’t a recognized medical condition. However, if you see signs of severe infections, it would be better to consult a doctor.

Dr. Luna Rey

Dr. Luna Rey is a renowned dermatologist who has established herself as an authority in diagnosing and managing a diverse array of skin disorders. Her expertise encompasses both common conditions such as acne and eczema, as well as more complex dermatological issues like psoriasis and skin malignancies. Complementing her clinical practice, Dr. Rey has cultivated a profound passion for writing, which has led her to contribute numerous articles to prestigious medical journals. Her writing is characterized by its clarity, concision, and accessibility, enabling her work to resonate with a wide readership.

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