While tattoos are becoming more and more common, they are still a bold and daring act most of the time. Between the existing stigma, the pain you need to go through, and the permanence of a tattoo, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Once you’ve made your decision to get a tattoo, though, it becomes quite exciting. You’ve got your appointment booked – perhaps months in advance – and you can’t wait to show it off after. But, what if something comes up – what if you get sick? 

Can you get a tattoo if you’re sick? Unfortunately, no. Getting a tattoo when you’re sick is not just a bad idea – it is dangerous. Not only is it extremely ill-advised, but most tattoo artists will refuse to tattoo you if you’re sick, anyway. 

Whether you’ve got a full-blown flu virus or a simple cold, the risks of getting a tattoo while even the slightest bit sick are many. Even when a tattoo is done professionally and in a clean environment, it is still the equivalent to an open wound on your body. It needs to heal like one, without interference. 

The Dangers of Getting a Tattoo While Sick 

If somehow, you were to get in and have a tattoo done while you’re sick, you’re not only compromising your tattoo, but you’re putting yourself and your health in danger. Sometimes an illness is easy to hide, meaning you might be able to keep it off the radar of your artist. Or, maybe your artist is one who doesn’t care – in this case, you probably shouldn’t be getting a tattoo from them even when healthy. 

Regardless, sneaking an illness under the radar just to avoid having to wait is not a success. Getting a tattoo is risky enough, but being sick makes everything so much worse: 

Healing Time

If your body is already compromised when you get your tattoo, it’s going to take several times longer to heal from both things. You will be trying to heal from your sickness, and now you need to heal an open wound. 

Your sickness will stick around longer if your body suddenly has to start focusing on something else as well. This means more time off school or work, more time cooped up at home, more time feeling miserable. 

It also means your tattoo will heal much slower. The soreness, sensitivity, and itchiness will last longer. Trying to deal with this and be sick is going to make for an absolutely treacherous few weeks. 


Infection is one of the greatest and most serious risks when getting a tattoo. There are many things that exist to lower these risks: 

  • Mandatory health and safety standards for shops and artists. 
  • Professional equipment. 
  • High-quality ink. 
  • Regular cleaning and care while healing. 

Just because you have all of these things, though, doesn’t mean you are entirely protected from infection. There is always a risk, no matter what you do. 

If you do get an infection, it can become quite serious and cause a lot of long-term problems. So why, then, would you do something to significantly increase the risk of your tattoo becoming infected? The logical answer would be that you wouldn’t. 

Getting a tattoo while sick will do exactly that though – put you at an even greater risk of infection due to an already compromised immune system and weak mind and body. 

Lower Pain Tolerance

Tattoos are always going to be painful. Some more so than others, but you can’t avoid it completely. Some people have a naturally higher pain tolerance than others, and the way you deal with pain can affect not only your tattoo experience but the tattoo itself. 

If you are wiggling, squirming, and moving around, your artist is going to have a tough time making your tattoo the best it can be – regardless of how skilled they are. No one can pull a straight line on a moving target. 

If your body is already compromised and focused on an illness, you will be distracted and weak. This means that your capacity to tolerate the pain of being repeatedly stabbed by a tiny, sharp needle, is going to be shot. 

Because it is a painful experience, you must be at your best to handle it properly. 

The Danger to Other People if You’re Sick 

When you’re sick, you can’t only be thinking of yourself. Schools and workplaces alike will always tell you to stay home if you’re sick, for your own benefit as well as those around you. In a workplace for example, if you go in and get everyone sick, the entire company is going to suffer for a while until everyone gets better. 

If you stay home though, yours is the only time they will be losing. 

The same concept applies to a tattoo shop, with some added health risks. 

For starters, you will be putting your tattoo artist at risk if you go in sick. Especially for a longer tattoo, you will be sitting in close quarters with them for an extended period of time. If you’re contagious, the likelihood of you getting them sick is high. This messes with their schedule and ability to work. 

You likely won’t be their favorite person if they figure out it was you that got them sick. Aside from getting them sick, the whole thing will have a ripple effect. Your artist will have to take time off work, which will cause many missed appointments. 

The artist will then either have to take the financial loss or reschedule all the appointments during their own free time. This is a huge inconvenience to many, many people. 

Lots of other clients will be forced to now wait for their tattoo, and possibly have to rearrange their own schedule to accommodate the makeup appointment. Getting your tattoo while sick not only endangers the artist but it’s extremely unfair to everyone involved. 

You also need to think about the health of other customers. There will most likely be many people getting tattooed at the same time. While a good shop will be spacious and comfortable, everyone is still in the same building. 

There is a good risk of you getting other customers sick as well. Not only is it a drag for them to be sick because of you, but they are also going to be healing a fresh tattoo. If you get them sick, you open them up to the same risks you’re taking for yourself, except it’s your fault and not theirs. 

It’s one thing to put yourself at risk, but please don’t endanger others just because you lack some patience. You can always reschedule, but you can’t take back your spreading of an illness.

How Long Should You Wait After Recovering Before Getting the Tattoo? 

If you’ve had to cancel a tattoo appointment because you’re sick – good job, you did the right thing. But, you’re probably anxious to reschedule and finally get the tattoo you’ve been so excited for. 

Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be longer than you’d like before you’re in the clear. Just because you’re feeling better, doesn’t mean your immune system is recovered and back to full strength. 

A good test is to see if you can walk a mile going at a normal, moderate pace. If this gets you winded and out of breath, you still need to wait a little longer. You might be able to return to work if you’re feeling better and no longer contagious, but tattoos are a different story. 

If your immune system isn’t fully restored, you’ll still be placing yourself in a dangerous situation by trying to get a tattoo too soon after being sick. 

It’s not fun to play the waiting game, but the best thing to do is wait 1-2 weeks after recovering to go ahead and reschedule. It may seem excessive but when it comes to the health of yourself and those around you – it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Can You Get a Tattoo While Injured? 

If you can’t get a tattoo while you’re sick, it should go without saying that you shouldn’t get a tattoo while you’re injured. A tattoo itself is the same as an open wound as far as your body and its healing mechanisms are concerned. 

When you injure yourself – be it a broken bone or open wound – you rest and take care of it until it’s healed. Getting another injury while healing this one will only prolong and exacerbate the process. If something happens by accident, well, that’s life. It happens and you’ll just have to be more careful. 

But, tattoos aren’t an accident, and it’s something you can avoid doing until your current injury is healed. 

While being tattooed with an existing injury is different from illness as you’re the only one being put at risk – it’s still a terrible idea for all the same personal reasons. 

Let your body heal completely before adding another open wound for it to heal.