Why Do I Feel Unwell After Getting A Tattoo?

Getting a tattoo can bring with it a wide variety of emotions. You can feel excited about getting your new ink, worried about needles and more.

It can bring some anxiety and nervousness, both before you get the tattoo and when it’s all over. It will be a lot easier to deal with this as you get more and more tattoos.

Of course, there’s one thing that people don’t always talk about when it comes to getting tattoos – the flu that you can sometimes get after you get a tattoo.

When some people get tattoos, they may feel sick and like they have the flu afterwards. As it turns out, it’s pretty common to feel like that after a tattoo, though as with any other ailment not everyone may get those side effects.

Why Do I Feel Unwell After Getting A Tattoo

If you are concerned about getting these symptoms, then you need not fret. It’s ultimately happening because your body’s immune system is working as it should, since a foreign body has made its way onto your skin.

Getting a tattoo is basically like creating a large open wound on the body, so it’s only natural that the body may react that way. Your white blood cells will go into a frenzy to get you back to fighting condition.

If you want to learn more then you can keep reading on to find out everything there is to know about what happens after you get a tattoo.

The Dreaded Tattoo Flu – Is It Normal?

It’s actually incredibly common to get what’s known as the ‘tattoo flu’ after you get a tattoo. Some people will feel feverish and nauseous after the fact. It’s not usually something that you need to worry about, since it happens to most people.

It’s absolutely possible for your skin to react in a bad way to a tattoo, but the tattoo flu is by far the most common side effect that you may experience after getting your ink. It’s because the immune system is hard at work in an attempt to make repairs to your wounded skin.

This is because getting a tattoo can be quite traumatic for your skin, and you can also get pretty worked up both before and after you get one thanks to the fear of the pain.

When you’re stressed and feeling trauma, your immune system can be weaker temporarily. This means that it’s a lot harder for it to fight off viruses when you come into contact with them,

If your immune system isn’t great to begin with then you’re a lot more likely to notice the side effects of having a tattoo. Not everyone will get symptoms after every single tattoo though. Your body will eventually get used to it, meaning that the tattoo flu is much less likely in subsequent tattoo sessions.

How Do I Know If I Have The Tattoo Flu?

There are a couple of symptoms that are associated with the so-called ‘tattoo flu.’ These may mean that you feel sick after your appointment. Most people will feel symptoms like coldness, diarrhea, high fever, soreness, tiredness and sometimes some swelling in the site of the tattoo.

It’s also worth noting that since a tattoo does involve a needle going into your skin, there’s always a chance that the tattoo can become infected. It’s quite normal to get the symptoms that we have just mentioned, and for the most part they aren’t signs of an infection.

With that being said, you should monitor how you feel because feeling any worse can be a sign sometimes that there’s something deeper going on. In this case, you should speak to your doctor or to the professional that did your tattoo for further advice.

Are There Ways To Ensure You Don’t Feel It?

As with pretty much any other kind of flu it’s usually okay to have medication in order to deal with the symptoms, but it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor beforehand to ensure that it’s okay.

Otherwise there really isn’t much that you can do to stop feeling sick. If you try to relax before your appointment though and stay calm, then you may not feel the symptoms as strongly. It’s perfectly natural to feel stressed before getting a tattoo, but if you don’t want to feel as sick then it will help to feel less worried.

When you get a tattoo your immune system can slow down for a while because it is trying to battle off all sorts of other bacteria and viruses every single day. Physical trauma can also have quite the effect on your body too.

If your immune system is a little bit on the poorer side to begin with, you should try to do some things to build it up before you go for your tattoo. The solution is simple – just eat and drink a little healthier beforehand.

It’s also a good idea to ensure that you choose the right tattoo artist. Look for reviews, ensuring that they follow strict hygiene rules and that they have plenty of experience.

The right tattoo artist will also be excellent at helping you to feel a little better when you’re getting your ink. This will help you to feel less stressed and in turn, less likely to become sick.

This is all in contrast with going to an inexperienced tattoo artist. They may not clean their tools properly or they use the wrong ink, and this means you are much more likely to become infected. This can result in a whole bunch of nasty symptoms, not just related to the tattoo flu.

The best thing to do is research where you are going thoroughly before making a booking. Speak to friends and family that have also had tattoos too since they will know what the artist is like from experience.

Is It Possible To Become Sick After Getting A New Tattoo?

Unfortunately, it is indeed possible to get sick after you have finished having a new tattoo. Thankfully though, it’s usually not quite as bad as when you get the flu or when you get sick. It’ll eventually go away.

After you have a new tattoo, you are going to feel unwell for a while most likely. It’s much more likely to happen if this is your very first tattoo, or if the tattoo process lasted for a long time – roughly 2 to 3 hours.

You may also feel a little bit achy after the fact because your body will begin to feel more numb after sitting in the same place for a few hours.

Is It Possible To Become Sick After Getting A New Tattoo

This can put a lot of strain on your whole body, and this can result in the flu-like feelings that you may get, alongside tiredness.

Your discomfort can also be caused by the fact that your immune system isn’t as efficient as it usually is. You are quite likely to get tattoo flu, alongside other symptoms such as stomach ache, dizziness, nausea and headaches.

You are more likely to avoid these feelings if you eat plenty of food before you have your tattoo. After you have the tattoo you should also have a full meal.

The problem is that the feeling of sickness is likely to last for a number of days, so this is something that you are going to need to be prepared for. It may make you wonder why you got a tattoo in the first place!

Sometimes the symptoms are a little bit worse the next morning since the body is still trying to deal with the trauma of the tattoo needle breaking into your skin and the ink.

This can vary though based on the tattoo that you are going to be having and where it is positioned on your body. You don’t need to let the tattoo flu prevent you from getting more tattoos as thankfully your body will start to get used to the experience, and it’s unlikely you’ll feel it to the same degree again.

My New Tattoo Feels Warm – What’s Up With That?

Now you have your new tattoo all set up on your skin, but you’re noticing that it feels a little bit warm. It can be a little weird feeling the tattoo heating up on your arm, and it may be a little worrying.

Thankfully though it is benign. It happens because the tattoo machine causes trauma on your arm because of the sheer amount of needles involved.

When the process of putting the tattoo on your skin is all over, the tattoo begins the healing process but it may look a little inflamed for a while. It is a good sign that the tattoo is beginning to heal though, and that your skin is getting used to the ink on it.

The warmness of the new tattoo usually sticks around on your arm for one to two days. If it does stick around for longer than that though then it can be a little concerning since it may indicate an infection on your skin.

Skin infections can happen fairly frequently after getting tattoos and it’s usually because the machine hasn’t been maintained correctly or the ink used isn’t very good. If you suspect that you have an infection then it’s important that you speak to your skin doctor and tattoo artist as soon as possible.

The Signs and Symptoms of Delayed Shock

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of delayed shock. This is usually when you feel the sickness and you are unwell significantly later after you have had your tattoo.

Sometimes this might occur for a couple of hours, or sometimes even a number of days after you have had the tattoo. It may begin when you are having the tattoo or after your tattoo artist has finished putting it on your skin.

Sometimes delayed shock doesn’t happen right after the tattoo is done. It may happen a day later. If you are experiencing delayed shock then you may feel weak, numb, you may wish you had never had the tattoo and you may feel lethargic.

Your body goes through a lot after you get your tattoo, and your body can also go stiff during the tattooing process. Thanks to this, you can end up feeling a lot of pain which usually happens with delayed shock.

It’s pretty standard to get symptoms like this after you get a tattoo, though if you are concerned about symptoms lasting for more than a couple of hours or even days after your appointment, you may need to consider that you have delayed shock and need further help.

Things To Think About Before You Go For Your Tattoo

Getting a tattoo should be fun! In order to make the whole thing much more enjoyable and to reduce your chances of getting the tattoo flu or shock, then there are a couple of things that you can do.

Stay Away From Alcohol

You may be tempted to have alcohol before or after your appointment, but you should try not to do so. You should especially avoid having any alcohol in the 24 hours before you get your tattoo.

If you are drunk or there’s too much alcohol in your system when you have your appointment, you are more likely to experience a lot of bleeding and it can thin your blood too.

You may end up feeling nauseous and this will cause problems for the tattoo artist. They may not be able to totally finish doing the tattoo on the same day.

Stay Away From Aspirin

It’s pretty standard practice to take aspirin a couple of hours before getting a tattoo. A lot of people think that it’s going to make it easier to deal with the pain of having the tattoo applied to the skin.

Of course, the problem is that this can actually result in feeling even more pain because the aspirin will thin out your blood. As such, it’s best to stay away from the aspirin when you are about to get a tattoo.

Other Things To Note

There are also a few other things that are worth keeping in mind before and after you have your tattoo. For starters, you should try to get plenty of sleep the night before you get the tattoo.

This may not seem all that important, but we promise you that it is! In fact, getting sleep will help with your immune system, allowing it to fight against the tattoo flu much more efficiently.

In addition to that, you should try to ensure that you are keeping your skin away from the sun and you need to avoid getting a sunburn in the few days following the tattoo. This will help you to avoid hurting your tattoo site even more when you are recovering.

Things To Think About Before You Go For Your Tattoo

On the same subject, you will want to ensure that you are doing everything you can to look after your skin before you have the tattoo.

Spend the week before your tattoo giving your skin plenty of love so it’s extra resilient to the side effects of getting a tattoo. You can also help yourself further by ensuring that you have done research on different tattoo artists before you go.

You will want to make sure that you get a tattoo artist with a good reputation that has the experience you need to ensure you’re getting the best results.

Finally, if you are getting a tattoo for the very first time, you are going to need to stay away from having overly lengthy tattoo sessions.

Your body won’t be able to handle getting a tattoo for long periods of time right at the beginning. It’s important that you get a few tattoos before you go for a longer one so you can become more resilient.


It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your symptoms after you get a tattoo. The last thing you need is for them to get any worse. Keep an eye on them, and get some help from your doctor or your tattoo artist to get further help.

It can be really frightening to get a tattoo for the very first time since you don’t know what to expect. If you manage things properly though, you can limit the negative side effects so you can just enjoy the fun parts of having a tattoo.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Tattoos Shorten Your Lifespan?

You may be worried that getting tattoos will shorten your lifespan. Thankfully, this is not something that you need to worry about. There have been a number of different studies conducted that have demonstrated that tattoos do not shorten your lifespan.

Of course, you may get bad side effects from reckless behavior after getting a tattoo, so it’s important to keep that in mind so you minimize the risks.

Do You Ever Regret Getting A Tattoo?

For the most part, people don’t tend to regret their tattoos, especially if they have been planning to get it for a really long time. A lot of people put a lot of thought into getting a tattoo.

Of course, with that being said, some people do feel regret after getting a tattoo, especially if they made the decision when getting inebriated.

The chances are good that you will be happy with your tattoo though, so long as you think hard about the decision. It’s a permanent choice, after all!

Does Getting A Tattoo Strengthen Your Immune System?

It certainly can! Recent research has suggested that you can get a better immune system if you get a couple of tattoos. If you need an incentive to get more ink, let this be it!

Megan Ivy