Fatal infection raises issue of tattoo safety

A man who died from an infection after swimming with a new tattoo is a reminder of how to be safe.

A tattoo artist for a decade, Randy Llamas has seen it all.

"We see a lot of people that get infections," Llamas said. "I think it's more the people that don't keep it clean, going into the beach, the pool."

He says he sees a lot of people not following directions

"The biggest thing is to keep it clean. the cleaner you keep the tattoo, the faster it will heal."

Tattoo safety has gotten more attention recently after reports of a man who went swimming with a new tattoo and died after contracting  flesh-eating bacteria.

Tattoo salons tell you how to take care of the area afterward, but following their advice is up to you. According to the fine print in the paperwork you sign, you're the one responsible for infections.

"If you don't take care of it yourself, if you don't maintain it, if you don't apply ointment and something happens to it, that falls on you."

You also have to share what health issues you have, like hepatitis, HIV or other diseases that can put you at a higher risk of infection.

"Before coming in to get a tattoo shop and getting a tattoo," Llamas advises, "speak to your doctor first.  See what complications you're going to have healing."

So, what risks come along with a tattoo? There's a possibility of getting an allergic reaction, rash or skin problem like keloids. 

Llamas says the best thing you can do is "keep it clean, lubricated, moisturized, after four days. The rule of thumb is two weeks. but if it's not healed i would say don't go into the water."

Also, do your homework about where you're going. You have every right to ask to see your tattoo artist's license.

"Every tattoo artists in this shop has to have license out and available for person to see," Llamas says.

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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