Feeling Sick After Getting a Tattoo? – Here’s Why!

Getting a tattoo may seem all fun and exciting, but for your body, the very process of getting tattooed and healing is pretty stressful. That is why a lot of people experience different, health-related things, and tattoo side effects once their tattoos are done.

Some feel ill, others feel nauseous, and others are just in a lot of pain for the first few days. It is safe to say that getting tattooed is a pretty unpleasant experience, especially if you have low pain tolerance and are prone to getting sick.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re going through the unpleasant stage of tattoo healing right now. So, to make this as straightforward as possible (and save you from reading nausea), we’ll dive into the reasons you’re feeling sick after a tattoo. Let’s get started!

After-Tattoo Sickness or Tattoo Flu: 6 Things You Must Know

1. What Does The Body Go Through During and After a Tattoo?

Before we get into the reasons you’re feeling sick after a tattoo, we first must understand all the things the body goes through in such a process. That will offer some insight into your body reacting by making you feel sick, nauseous, and overall, pretty bad.

Now, during a tattooing process, your body is getting poked thousands of times. After all, the newly-created tattoo is also a newly-created open wound your body starts to prioritize for quick and proper healing. You’re purposefully wounding your body, so the body needs to respond to the wound or the damage.

As a result, white blood cells are ‘sent to the crime scene’ to fix what can be fixed. For example, these cells transport the excess ink particles and dispose of them through the bloodstream; this is the work of your lymphatic system.

But, what exactly is happening in your body during and after a tattoo?

  • Thanks to the fast work of your white blood cells, your adrenaline increases, which can increase your heart rate. This alone can make you feel dizzy and weak since your body is in a ‘fight or flight’ mode; it is being attacked by a tattoo needle thousands of times, so the reaction is pretty normal.
  • Your body becomes stressed and tense as a response to the repeated pain. Alongside the increased adrenaline, the stress and tension in the body create a concoction of reactions that directly affect your immune system.
  • As your immune system gets involved in the situation, it also becomes weaker. This means, your body is weak, the immune response impaired and as a result, you’re prone to sickness after a tattoo more than you’d usually be.

Because of this, it is essential to take care of your body before and after a tattoo. What we mean by this is; drink plenty of water, eat healthy, nutritional food, get some physical activity and consider vitamin supplements if you think your vitamin intake is insufficient. All of this will help your immune system stay at the top of its game, especially during the tattoo aftermath and the healing process.

2. Symptoms Of a Tattoo Flu

Getting sick after a tattoo is also known as having a ‘tattoo flu’. But, how do you know you’re not dealing with an ink allergic reaction or a tattoo infection? What are the symptoms of tattoo flu?

Well, just like the regular sickness of flu, the tattoo flu manifests through the following symptoms;

  • Fever
  • Cold chills
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Soreness
  • Feeling weak
  • In some cases, stomach issues and diarrhea
  • Tattoo swelling
  • Nausea and possible vomiting

3. Should I Be Worried About Having a Tattoo Flu?

In the majority of cases, the sickness, nausea, and flu symptoms disappear in a day or two after getting a tattoo. In that time your body recuperates and focuses on healing ‘the wound’ rather than damaging the immune system further.

However, if any of the symptoms persist for more than a day or two, make sure to seek medical help. You may be experiencing a tattoo infection, which needs proper examination and treatment. Otherwise, make sure to take some flu medication, generally available over-the-counter. Also, make sure to take plenty of water and eat nourishing meals, high in protein, minerals, and vitamins.

4. Reasons Why You Feel Sick After a Tattoo

There are plenty of reasons you might feel sick, ill, or nauseous after a tattoo. Here are some of the main causes of such unpleasant occurrences;

  • Your immune system is weak 

As we explained earlier, tattooing directly affects your immune system. Because of the adrenaline increase, high and repeated pain, and overall stress, the body doesn’t really know how to react. As a result, the immune system becomes weak, making your body prone to sickness and flu much easier, since it can’t really fight against bacteria and viruses.

  • You’re already dealing with sickness 

If you come to a tattoo appointment already sick, chances are that after a tattoo you’ll become even sicker. It is strongly advised to avoid getting a tattoo while being sick because the immune system becomes too impaired to deal with a new tattoo. As a result, your tattoo might get easily infected, since the body can’t fight off infections in such a state.

  • You’ve had alcohol before a tattoo 

First of all, getting drunk before a tattoo appointment is irresponsible and rude towards the tattoo artist. At the rare chance that you got a tattoo while being intoxicated, chances are you’ll feel terrible after the process is done. You’ll feel nauseous, weak, dehydrated, and of course, sick. It is important, in such a case, to eat well and drink plenty of water to help your body recuperate.

  • You haven’t had food or water before getting a tattoo

In order to deal with all the trauma of tattooing, your body needs energy. And where does the energy come from? Well, from food and water. It is essential to get a proper meal and have a glass of water before getting a tattoo. Otherwise, your hunger and thirst will indicate to your body there’s no source of energy. And, in turn, you might start feeling nauseous and sick after the tattoo is done.

5. How To Prevent After Tattoo Sickness?

Not everyone gets a tattoo flu, truth to be told. But, some people can experience sickness and nausea, especially if they’re getting their first tattoo. So, to prevent the tattoo flu from occurring here’s what you should do;

  • Several days before the tattoo appointment, load up on foods rich in vitamins and minerals. This will help boost your immune system and have it ready for what’s coming. However, do not overdo your vitamin intake (especially if you’re taking vitamin supplements) to avoid hypervitaminosis.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated, before, during, and after the tattoo. The recommended water intake for an adult person is 8 glasses of water and more. So, make sure to drink at least 8 glasses of water, and bring a water bottle to the appointment, just in case you need to sip on something and beat thirst.
  • Eat a hearty, nutritious meal before going to a tattoo appointment. Your body will need the energy to deal with the pain, skin damage, and other effects of tattooing.
  • Do not drink or abuse any substances before going to a tattoo session. Chances are you’ll be refused a tattoo, and even if you somehow pass as sober, you’ll feel incredibly sick, nauseous, dehydrated, and irritable during and after the session. Alcohol will also thin out your blood, so there’ll be increased tattoo bleeding as well.
  • Bring a snack to eat during the tattoo session. It will keep your sugar levels normal and keep you energized throughout the tattooing pain and discomfort.

6. When Should I Start Worrying?

Tattoo flu, if it occurs, shouldn’t last more than a day or two. However, if it doesn’t improve or if the symptoms keep getting worse, make sure to seek medical help right away. You might be having a tattoo infection or other health complications. That might be a reason for concern.

However, if the symptoms do subside, keep on feeding your body with minerals, vitamins, and proteins to maintain a good immune system response. Furthermore, don’t forget to follow the aftercare guidelines provided by your tattoo artist. They’re essential for proper tattoo healing.

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