Can You Get a Tattoo If You Have Psoriasis?

What you need to know about possible risks

Having psoriasis does not mean someone cannot get a tattoo. Getting a tattoo with psoriasis is possible, but it may not be the best option for everyone with this inflammatory skin condition.

What Is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition that accelerates the growth of new skin cells. It causes skin to build up and develop itchy and painful scales and patches.

Psoriasis can come and go, and the main goal of treatment is to keep skin cells from growing too fast. There is no cure for the condition, but symptoms can be managed with treatment and lifestyle measures, including not smoking, making healthy diet choices, and keeping skin clean and moisturized.

There are different types of psoriasis and the location of scales and patches determines the type of psoriasis. For example, nail psoriasis affects the fingernails and toenails, whereas plaque psoriasis, the most common type of psoriasis, affects the skin anywhere on the body.

Safety

People with psoriasis wonder if getting a tattoo is a safe option for them. Getting a tattoo involves using a needle to inject ink into the skin. This process means skin trauma and for people with skin conditions, their skin may not heal as quickly as it would for someone else. Moreover, trauma to the skin is a psoriasis trigger, which means it can cause a person’s symptoms to flare up and become worse.

Trauma to the skin can also cause a condition called Koebner phenomenon. This condition affects up to 25 percent of people with psoriasis after a traumatic injury or tattoo. 

In the case of psoriasis, Koebner phenomenon causes new plaques to develop in skin areas that were not previously affected. New skin plaques will develop after the skin injury. The Koebner phenomenon can also affect people without psoriasis by triggering the disease.  

Further Risks

Anyone with psoriasis considering a tattoo should talk to their doctor or dermatologist about the risks associated with getting a tattoo and how it pertains to their symptoms and current treatment plan. 

Someone with psoriasis considering a tattoo has to be certain that the location of the tattoo is not prone to a skin breakout. Skin spots with plaques will not allow for tattoos to be placed. Further, these spots are at higher risk for allergic reaction and infections.

Tattoos themselves may also carry the risk for allergic reactions and infections. 

One report in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology finds that people with psoriasis have a higher chance of being hospitalized for infections. The risk of infection in people with psoriasis further is increased if they take immunosuppressant drugs to treat their condition. These drugs weaken the immune system and make it harder to fight off bacteria that cause infections.  

A review of studies in the journal Dermatology and Therapy reports that red ink used when tattooing can cause allergic reactions. This risk applies to everyone and not just people with psoriasis.

Considerations

Some tattoo shops will not be willing to place a tattoo on someone who has an inflammatory skin condition, regardless of whether their disease is active or not. Further, some state laws prohibit tattoo parlors from tattooing people with skin conditions.

It is also a good idea to check state laws about the proper sanitation requirements for tattoo parlors. This includes information about protective gear and clothing to avoid contact and exchange of bodily fluids, use of fresh and sterilized equipment, and for following specific protocols during and after tattooing. 

It is also a good idea to confirm that a tattoo artist is licensed. He or she must be aware of local, state, and regulatory and safety guidelines required to be followed by all tattoo parlors and professionals.

Taking Care of a Tattoo

A tattoo takes at least a couple weeks to heal. It will scab, and the scab will eventually fall off. The area may also itch and should not be scratched, as this will prolong the healing process.

The tattoo artist will give instructions on caring for a tattoo, which will include keeping the tattoo covered for at least a day, washing and drying the affected area without scrubbing, not soaking in water, and applying moisturizer. Any redness and burning should be reported to a doctor.

A Word From Verywell

There is not enough evidence on whether getting a tattoo worsens psoriasis. Further, there has been little evidence about adverse effects when tattooing with psoriasis. It is always a good idea, however, to check with a doctor or dermatologist about individual risks, including the heightened risk for infection and allergic reactions. 

Everyone—especially those with psoriasis—should also do their research about tattoo parlors to make sure artists are licensed and practicing safely. People with psoriasis should avoid getting a tattoo in areas with skin plaques and broken skin.

There is no way of knowing whether a person’s psoriasis symptoms will worsen if they get a tattoo. Therefore, if someone with psoriasis plans on going forward with getting a tattoo, they should educate themselves on the risks. In the end, the choice is up to each individual to decide whether a tattoo is for them.

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