Home Tattoo Can I Get a Tattoo If I Have Herpes: 6 Precautions & 6 Risks

Can I Get a Tattoo If I Have Herpes: 6 Precautions & 6 Risks

There are 6 risks and 6 precautions to getting a tattoo if you have herpes
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The herpes virus is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can have negative consequences if you decide to get a tattoo while infected with the herpes simplex virus. The sores contain the virus, which can spread if they are in contact with an infected tattoo needle. Herpes can cause severe and long-lasting problems, so getting a tattoo is not worth the risk.

No, people should avoid getting tattoos when they are experiencing herpes outbreaks or HSV-2. Herpes is highly contagious during this time, and tattooing can irritate the skin and delay healing. Make sure the outbreak has wholly healed before getting a tattoo.

In this blog post, we will discuss whether I can get a tattoo if I have herpes, consider all factors before getting a tattoo, and the risks of tattooing with herpes.

Can I Get a Tattoo If I Have Herpes: 6 Potential Risks

The 6 precautions to take if you have herpes before getting a tattoo
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If you have herpes, you may wonder if it is safe to get a tattoo. While many people with herpes get tattoos with no adverse effects, there are some risks that you should know if you decide to get inked. Here are some dangers of herpes to get a tattoo:

  • Increased Risk of Infection: If you are suffering from a herpes outbreak at the time of your tattoo, you are more susceptible to infection. The herpes virus weakens your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight off bacteria or other pathogens that may enter your system during tattooing.
  • Spread of Herpes: If your outbreak is not contained, the herpes virus can spread to other areas of your body or even to other people through contact with your open sores. HSV-2 spreads through sexual contact, leading to genital herpes. Often asymptomatic or mild, it may cause painful blisters or ulcers that recur. Medications ease symptoms but don't cure the infection.
  • Delayed Healing: The herpes virus may also slow down the healing process of your tattoo, which could lead to scarring or other complications.
  • Allergic Reaction: Some people with herpes may also be more prone to allergic reactions to the tattoo ink or other elements of the tattooing process.
  • Misdiagnosis: If you have herpes outbreaks in locations other than your usual genital or oral regions, it can be misdiagnosed as other skin conditions. This misdiagnosis can be dangerous, especially if your tattoo artist is not aware of your herpes status.
  • Transmission to Tattoo Artists: There’s a risk that the herpes virus could be transmitted to the tattoo artist. This is especially true if open sores or blisters are present during tattooing.

Remember, If you have chlamydia, it is advisable to delay getting a tattoo until after you have finished treatment and tested negative for the infection. This precaution helps reduce the chances of spreading the disease.

Tattoos and Herpes: 6 Precautions

The 6 risks of tattooing with herpes

Herpes raises significant concerns you need to weigh before deciding. While herpes is a common and manageable viral infection, it can affect your skin and immune system, making tattoos riskier than for people without herpes. To help you make an informed choice, let's explore some factors you should consider before getting a tattoo with herpes.

Consult with a Healthcare Professional

To make an informed decision about getting a tattoo, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. A medical professional can provide detailed information about the risks and precautions you must take while sick. This may include advice on:

  • The best time to get a tattoo.
  • Complications.
  • Medications you might need to take.

Choose a Reputable Tattoo Studio

Not all tattoo studios follow hygiene standards. Therefore, choosing a reputable studio that adheres to strict cleanliness protocols is essential. Look for studios that:

  • Use new, sterile needles for each client.
  • Clean and disinfect their equipment regularly.
  • Have trained and certified artists.
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Inform the Tattoo Artist

It’s essential to inform the tattoo artist about your condition. This allows them to take extra precautions to prevent any complications. They might need to:

  • Avoid tattooing areas where you usually have outbreaks.
  • Use specific types of ink or equipment.
  • Follow a different aftercare routine.

Avoid Tattooing During Outbreaks

Getting a tattoo during a herpes outbreak can increase the risk of complications. It’s best to wait until the outbreak has completely healed before getting a tattoo. Remember to:

  • Monitor your symptoms closely.
  • Postpone your appointment if you have an outbreak.
  • Follow your healthcare professional’s advice.

Follow Proper Aftercare

Proper aftercare is crucial to prevent infections and ensure your tattoo heals properly. Make sure to:

  • Keep the tattooed area clean and dry.
  • Avoid scratching or picking at the tattoo.
  • Follow the aftercare instructions provided by the tattoo artist.
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Tattoo Location

The location of your tattoo is another essential factor to consider. It’s ‌advised to avoid areas where you usually have herpes outbreaks.

  • Avoid Outbreak Areas: Herpes sores can interfere with the tattoo's healing process.
  • Consider Visibility: The location of the tattoo should also be chosen based on how visible you want it to be.

Note: Refrain from stretching or pulling the tattooed skin to prevent spreading effects on your tattoo. These actions can cause the ink to spread beyond the tattoo lines, resulting in a blowout effect. Additionally, such actions may prolong the healing process and elevate the risk of infection, particularly if you touch the tattoo prematurely.


If you have herpes, the answer to whether you can get a tattoo ultimately depends on the individual case. While getting a tattoo is not impossible, taking all necessary measures to minimize risks and avoid complications is crucial.

Consulting with a tattoo artist and medical professionals beforehand can help determine if getting inked is safe for you. Remember, safety is vital, and self-care practices should always come first. Be informed, make educated decisions, and enjoy your tattooing experience.

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Matt Callard
I am a passionate traveler, as if traveling were my full-time job. I like to change my surroundings and environment, like changing desktop wallpaper. Nature increases the concentration in my writing, which helps brainstorming flow in my blood. I have a cat named Kitana. She is the most desperate about traveling, more than any other cat. How do I know? If I miss any tour in any week, she literally destroys my clothing with her wolverine nails.

I and my cat also participate in extreme activities like surfing, biking, hill tracking, paragliding, boating, etc. She was always there in my accidents, injuries, and stitches. She always sits on my lap when it hurts me most. The funniest part is that she has experienced all my tattoos. She sleeps on my blanket when I go through any painful experience.

My hobbies and lifestyle added many pain and injuries to my life. That is why I have a lot of experience in dealing with different levels of pain and burn. It influenced me to become a pain expert and share primary suggestions to handle any unwanted situations that hurt.


  • Can I Get A Tattoo 3 Weeks After Surgery?

    Waiting at least six weeks before and after surgery is recommended for getting a tattoo for proper healing without interfering with the body's recovery. Getting a tattoo three weeks after surgery may hinder healing and stress the circulatory system, so waiting longer for optimal results is advisable. Prioritizing healing and avoiding complications involves following the six-week timeframe before getting a new tattoo post-surgery.

  • Does Herpes Affect Tattoos?

    Among the viral pathogens that can cause tattoo lesions are herpes simplex virus (HSV), human papillomavirus (HPV), molluscum contagiosum, rubella, and vaccinia.

  • Are Tattoos Removable If You Have Herpes?

    Yes, people with a history of cold sores (oral herpes simplex infection) can undergo tattoo removal. Before the procedure, they should take prophylactic anti-herpes medication, like acyclovir, to prevent a herpes outbreak. This precaution helps ensure a safe and successful tattoo removal process.

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