Psoriasis, Scars & Tattoos
A few important things before we begin:
1. At no point has any of my information come from a Dermatologist, Doctor, or any other healthcare professional. Everything written in this post is based on my own experience and are my own opinions.
2. I am not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned within this post and am not receiving any form of payment from them.
3. I do not condone people under the age of 18 getting tattoos - yes, I did, but that was my own choice. I feel it is important to wait, especially if you don't know what you want or are doing it to "fit in"...it's not worth it, trust me.
4. This post is something I am passionate about and want to write about, I am not suggesting that you should or should not get tattoos. If you are simply not interested or do not agree with me writing about this topic then please stop reading now!
5. TW - There will be parts in this which focus on scars, self-harm and images of fresh tattoos/scarring. If any of this may affect you in any way, then please do not continue reading.
6. I'm not sharing full photos of my newest tattoo because I will be writing a separate blog about it in a few days.
Tattoos. We either love them or hate them, or sometimes just don't really have an opinion. but despite how you may feel about them, tattoos have made a huge come back in our society and are very popular amongst all generations. We decide to get them for a variety of reasons, be it for fun, on a drunk holiday which is later filled with regret, as a tradition, or
as a keepsake. I personally started getting tattoos as a way of collecting memories. It's sounds cliché, but I see my body as a canvas and feel the need to decorate myself with happy, and meaningful memories. I'm also quite addicted to the sensation and enjoy being in that chair and hearing that buzzing noise of the tattoo gun. It's a sensation and pain you can't really explain until you've had one done yourself.
When I was younger I had a whole list of tattoos I wanted.
Band names, band logos, random gothic images, none of which I have ended up getting. I got my first tattoo when I was 17 (yes, underage, I know) and I thought it was the most amazing thing ever – It’s now covered with a completely different design. I've since had a lot more tattoos done, but these days it's become harder and harder for me to get them. Why? Because of my Psoriasis.
I see the same question pop up time and time again...should I get a tattoo if I have Psoriasis? Well, that really is entirely up to you, but from someone with severe Psoriasis here is some personal advice if you do choose to put ink to skin when living with P.
You know your body best...but the tattooist is a professional and can decide not to work on you.
If you have had a tattoo before then I am sure you'll recognise the consent form you fill in before any work can start. if you haven't had one before here's an example.
(Example taken from releaseforms.org)
All forms vary but they must be filled in to ensure yours and the artist's safety, as well as keeping everything legally kosher.
When I had a new tattoo done last year, in a tattoo studio I'd not been to before, there was a question asking if I had any skin conditions (e.g Psoriasis) to which I answered 'yes' – it's not really something I could hide anyway, but if your Psoriasis isn't so obvious or in a different place to where you're having a tattoo then don't lie about it, BE HONEST!
Once I sat in the chair and the tattooist saw my arms, he asked, "I noticed you said you have Psoriasis and from seeing your skin are you sure this okay for me to do?" As I've had tattoos before when my skin has been bad, I knew that the result could be bad, but at the same time, I didn’t want to deprive myself, so I was happy to continue.
Take my word for it...IF YOU'RE HAVING A FLARE, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, DO NOT HAVE A TATTOO UNLESS YOU'RE PREPARED TO WORK HARD TO LOOK AFTER IT!
After care! After Care! After Care!
After care for tattoos is crucial and your tattooist will not stress this enough, mainly because they don't want to see their beautiful work become a mess. When you have Psoriasis and your skin gets damaged the flares are worse, because, Psoriasis happens when the cells produce too quickly, and when your body realises it's damaged, it works even harder. Because of this your tattoo will fade faster, which no one wants as it's best to keep it looking fresh and lovely for as long as possible.
Pre-Psoriasis, I would use nappy rash cream on my new tattoos (something many artists were using), however since my diagnosis I have realised how much more effort I need to put in to looking after new ink. These days I use products by a company called Tattoo Goo.
I got their aftercare kit for around £15 on Amazon, which is pretty damn good considering how long it lasts.
These are the 4 products you get. Though they be little, they are fierce - to paraphrase Shakespeare. Here's a closer look at each one.
Active Ingredient: Chloroxylenol 0.5%
Use: Helps eliminate germs on skin
3 to 4 times daily for tattoos. 1 to 2 times daily for piercings.
Squeeze in to palm of hand (be gentle, it comes out very quickly)
Work up lather in hands
Gently rub lather on tattoo or piercing
Cold water rinse, pat, then air dry.
I LOVE this product as I am VERY aware of how much dirt you pick up on your skin throughout the day, and as I like to keep my new tattoos very clean I will use this before applying the salve or lotion. I use it when I shower, then each time before I go to reapply new lotion. Love the very hygienic smell of it and it's always been great on my super sensitive skin.
ULTRA moisturising formula with Healix Gold +Panthenol.
95% natural olive oil formula. Enhances colour of new and old tattoos. Dermatologist tested. Not tested on animals.
For new tattoos: apply a thin layer to tattoo 3 to 4 a day. Do not over apply.
For older tattoos: apply a thin layer as needed on a frequent basis to rejuvenate colour.
Seriously. Smells great, feels great. Super soothing on new tattoos and does not irritate my skin at all. In fact, because of it's size, it's a handy little moisturiser to carry round.
Active Ingredient: Homosalate 10.0%, Octinoxate 5.0%, Avobenzone 3.0%
Purpose (for all): Sunscreen
Uses: Helps prevent sunburn whilst reviving tattoos.
Directions: Apply liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply 40 minutes after swimming or sweating, immediately after towel drying and at least every 2 hours.
** This one is only really needed if you are out a lot in the sun, but even then you should not subject your new tattoo to too much direct sunlight and chlorine. If unsure, ask a tattooist for more advice **
I haven't used this one as much yet, only when I have been out in the sun for a long amount of time, but even then I try to keep my tattoo as covered as possible.
And....finally. MY FAVOURITE!!!
Fruity, Aloe Vera goodness in a tin. Smells heavenly, its ridiculously soothing and has done nothing but wonders for my new tattoos.
Apply thin layer over tattoo 3 or 4 times per day. Do not over apply. Do not share with others to avoid cross-contamination.
If you haven't experienced a new tattoo before, than you will not have experienced 'the itch'. There is a part in the healing process where your ink will itch, and itch, and itch, and you know what you really should not do? Scratch it!! When mine get to this point, I slap the area (Which when they're in the crease of your arm, makes you look a bit suspect), but wonderful inventions such a this salve help to reduce the itching SO much!!
I use this salve until my tattoo is pretty much healed, and then move on to the lotion to keep it looking fresh and prevent it from drying out too much. I know many people like to use Lush's Dream Cream at this point, which also works wonders and can really bring out the colour of a new tattoo. Just be sure to check every and all ingredients and if you can, test them on your skin before use. Different products will effect everyone in different ways. don't assume because it's wonderful for one person that it will be for you too.
Tattoo from last year:
Day 1 – New and Fresh.
1 year on - Did not go back to have the colour touched up, so this still needs to be done.
A little bit about scars.
Some of you may have seen the amazing work that tattoo artists have done for women who have had mastectomy's (such as P.INK) or those participating in The Scars Project - where tattoo artists cover self-harm scars with beautiful ink work.
I'm on the middle of the fence with this, as I believe that it can provide positivity and confidence which has been taken away from people, on the other hand I also believe that you shouldn't have to be ashamed of your scars (or society should not make you feel ashamed of them).
If you do choose to get scars covered with tattoos, please, PLEASE discuss this with your tattooist first!! If your scar tissue is still quite new, or they're not quite fully healed then this can lead to problems later on - something I have experienced with my latest tattoo. You do not want to risk your tattoo looking awful, or worse, infection.
The same goes for Psoriasis. I wouldn't recommend tattooing over it AT ALL. When I get work done, I wait until I have clear skin to be able to do it, otherwise I would be covered head-to-toe by now. It irritates the skin too much, your tattoo will look awful because it won't sit properly on the layers of skin so will just scab and fall off, you risk getting infections and it will hurt a lot more than it should.
(some damage where the scars have reopened a bit - otherwise healing very well)
Finishing with some friendly advice.
I haven't written this post to stop people with Psoriasis or scarring from getting tattoos, heck! I still do it, and it's your body not mine! I will however suggest you have a long think before doing so. There's nothing like getting a beautiful new piece of ink and slowly watching it scab over and look like you've had it for years. Yes, you can keep it well moisturised but this won't necessarily prevent the Psoriasis from creeping its way in.
What I will suggest is, get to know your flare ups. There have been times when my skin has been okay and I've had it under control so getting tattoos hasn't been a problem apart from the occasional small red patch. If your flare up is bad, as much as you might want to, try to avoid it. Make the most of getting new ink when your skin is thriving and you can be happy to show it off to the world.
If you do go for it, take extra good care. Use the recommended after care treatment and follow the tips your tattooist provides you with. There's no point risking extra pain or infection. There's no need for us Pso and scar warriors to miss out on all the fun, right? Let's just make sure we're still taking good care of ourselves whilst doing it.
Just, think before you ink! Peace!