It’s possible to get a tattoo if you have psoriasis. However, there are certain things to consider, such as the location and increased risk of possible complications.

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Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition that causes thick, scaly patches on the surface of your skin.

Most people get a tattoo without having a second thought about their health. However, this may not be the case if you have psoriasis.

Read on to learn more about the risks and considerations associated with getting a tattoo if you have psoriasis.

The first consideration when getting a tattoo if you have psoriasis is where on your body to get it.

Around 80–90% of people with psoriasis have plaque psoriasis. This typically affects your knees, scalp, elbows, and back.

However, plaques and lesions can also occur anywhere on your body. This can make it difficult to choose a location for your tattoo because it’s not recommended to get one on an area of your body that’s affected by psoriasis.

It’s important to note that you’re still at risk of developing complications if you get a tattoo on an area of your body that’s unaffected by psoriasis. These may include infection, allergic reactions, and the Koebner phenomenon.

Approximately 1 in 10 people who get a tattoo experience some type of complication, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Tattooing involves repeatedly puncturing your skin with a needle to leave ink behind. This process may cause bleeding and introduce bacteria or other chemicals that may cause an infection.

The authors of a 2022 study found that people with psoriasis have a higher risk of infection after getting a tattoo if they’re currently undergoing treatment for psoriasis.

For example, immunosuppressive therapies may weaken your immune system and affect its ability to fight off foreign bodies. Some oral retinoids may also make your skin excessively dry and thin, which can slow down the healing process and increase your chance of infection.

Infections may also be caused by poorly sanitized equipment, contaminated tattoo ink, or cross-contamination.

Below is a list of possible infections:

• Staphylococcus
• Streptococcus
• Pseudomonas
• Clostridium
• tetanus
• commensal mycobacteria
• tuberculosis
• leprosy
• hepatitis B
• hepatitis C
• human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
• herpes
• warts
• molluscum
• condylomata

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also issued a warning of recalled tattoo inks due to bacterial microorganisms. Before getting a tattoo, speak with the artist about the inks they’re using.

The authors of a 2019 study found that certain pigments in red tattoo inks may cause allergic reactions.

This may also occur in tattoo inks that are purple, violet, green, blue, and yellow, but less so in black inks.

Nonallergic and immune-mediated skin reactions are also possible.

For example, the researchers of a 2013 Danish study found sun-related skin reactions in sunbathers with tattoos, such as:

  • swelling
  • itching
  • stinging
  • pain
  • redness

The most common risk for getting a tattoo if you have psoriasis is the Koebner phenomenon.

This refers to new psoriasis-type lesions that appear in previously unaffected areas of skin after experiencing skin trauma, such as a tattoo.

For example, you may choose to get a tattoo on your forearm because you’ve never had symptoms of psoriasis there. However, 10–20 days later, you may start to experience new lesions within the tattoo lines or elsewhere on your body.

It’s estimated that between 11–75% of people with psoriasis experience the Koebner phenomenon. It may take up to 20 years to develop.

The author of a 2017 study found that nearly 28% of people with psoriasis experienced symptoms flare-ups in the weeks following their tattoo.

Some artists may refuse to tattoo you if you have psoriasis or if you’re experiencing a flare-up.

They may also ask you to get medical approval from a healthcare professional or to come back when your symptoms have subsided.

If you have psoriasis, it’s important to make sure you’re permitted by law to get a tattoo in the state you wish to get tattooed in.

For example, tattoo artists in Oregon and South Carolina aren’t permitted to work on any area of the skin where there are lesions. This may include psoriasis plaques and lesions, or even rashes, sunburns, and pimples.

Following safety measures before getting a tattoo may help you prevent complications from occurring.

Visit a tattoo studio and speak with the artists before booking your appointment. This can help you ensure the studio is clean and they practice proper sterilization processes, such as using:

  • an autoclave machine
  • inks one time from individual cups, not from a multi-use bottle
  • gloves to tattoo people
  • inks with no recalls on them

It’s also worth asking if any of the artists have experience tattooing on people with psoriasis.

If you’re in doubt or don’t feel comfortable getting a tattoo at this time, don’t rush into it. Take your time to find an artist and studio that suits your needs.

Your tattoo artist will provide specific aftercare instructions. It’s vital to follow these to avoid any complications.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact a healthcare professional. This may be a sign of an infection that could lead to more serious complications:

  • discoloration
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • new lesions
  • fever and chills

Do tattoos make psoriasis worse?

Psoriasis may increase your chance of developing new skin lesions in areas of your body that were previously unaffected by psoriasis. This is called Koebner’s phenomenon.

Is it OK to get a tattoo with psoriasis?

It’s possible to get a tattoo if you’re living with psoriasis. However, there are certain things to consider beforehand, such as the location and the increased risk of complications.

Can a tattoo trigger an autoimmune disease?

You have a higher chance of developing an infection after your tattoo if you have psoriasis, especially if you’re undergoing treatment. Some treatments may weaken your immune system, which could affect your ability to fight off infections.

Living with psoriasis may pose certain challenges, and getting a tattoo may be one of them.

However, many people with psoriasis get tattoos. Speak with a healthcare professional to weigh your options. They can assess your psoriasis symptoms and offer specific advice on where to get a tattoo, as well as the best treatment options for you.