In a time where tattoos are rising in popularity amongst people of all ages it is vital to educate those who are planning on getting “inked,” and especially those who have already had tattoo work, on the proper care of their skin. There are several main points of care that everyone should know:
- Sunscreen: The harmful ultraviolet rays from sun or tanning bed exposures can damage the pigment within tattoos, and will also increase the risk for developing skin cancer.
- Visit a Dermatologist: a routine skin screening for skin cancers is essential, a skin cancer can be difficult to spot within a tattoo, and for this reason tattoos must be carefully examined at least once per year. For this same reason it is best to have a tattoo placed in an area without moles.
- Seek dermatologic care if you develop a rash in the area of the tattoo: very rarely there can be the complication of an allergic reaction to a tattoo pigment. There are also many skin diseases can present within a tattoo as well, for example psoriasis or sarcoidosis can flare in tattooed. If you have a history of a chronic skin condition, first consult with your dermatologist before deciding to get a tattoo.
- If you have a history of poor healing and hypertrophic or keloid scarring, getting a tattoo may induce a keloid and you may want to reconsider having a tattoo placed. The scarring can be very difficult to treat and laser tattoo removal will not reverse the scar.
- Using water based creams and sunscreens can help to preserve the integrity of the pigment in a tattoo. Sun exposure and tanning will age the appearance of a tattoo and cause the pigment to fade. Keeping the skin moisturized will greatly help with the health and appearance of the tattoo.
- Using petrolatum based emollients can actually cause pigment to become dull and washed out over time. Avoid UV exposure without applying sunscreen, minimum SPF 30, with a broad spectrum UVA and UVB blocking product.