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Can You Get a Tattoo When You Have a Cold or Cough

It’s that time of the year. People all over Vancouver and Toronto (or wherever you live on this side of the continent) are walking around sniffling, sneezing, and coughing – all of which are due to the common cold. A few sick days away from work can be great but having a cold sucks if it keeps you from doing things you actually want to do. This is especially true if you have a tattoo planned in the days to come. Should you still go ahead with it? Let’s find out.

What to Consider Before Getting Tattooed When You Have a Common Cold

Do You Have a Persistent Cough?

You can suffer through a few sniffles during a tattoo session but a persistent cough is a whole other thing. When you cough, your body jerks, and this will absolutely impact a tattooist’s ability to apply the appropriate pressure, coloring, and shading and to draw clean lines. If throughout your cold you have found that your cough is infrequent and easy to anticipate you can let your artist know before a cough kicks in. But if you start coughing unexpectedly, and/or suffer from persistent coughing, it will be impossible to do your tattoo properly. Wait until the chronic symptoms have abated completely before you schedule and/or walk-in for a tattoo.

Poor Immunity

You’ve picked up a common cold because your immunity wasn’t as strong as it could have been when you were exposed to the virus. A cold that lasts only a few days is not symptomatic of a poor immune system however, so if the cold appears to be on the way out after 72 hours or so things are probably returning to normal. In this case moving forward with a tattoo is fine as long as all other conditions addressed here are met. Instead, if your cold seems to be lasting far longer than usual, or you’re catching them frequently throughout the season, then you’re immunity isn’t all that great (at the moment). Before getting a tattoo you need to go in with a strong immune system or it will take longer to heal. The longer it takes to heal, the greater the potential for infections and subsequent impact on the integrity of a tattoo. If you fall in this latter category, visit your family doctor to see why you can’t shake the common cold this season and inform them about your plans for getting a tattoo. They will let you know if they think that your body can handle it as this given time, and may request that you come in for a followup appointment for final clearance. Also consider seeing a nutritionist to give your immune system and natural boost. Once your immune system is back on track you can schedule your tattoo appointment.

Cold Medicine Side Effects

Whether taking over the counter (OTC) or prescription medication to get over your cold virus and the coughs and other symptoms that come along with it, there are likely some side effects. If those side effects include nausea, drowsiness, headaches, increased sensitivity to pain, high blood pressure, or general feelings of nervousness, restlessness, irritability, and anxiety, then it’s best to avoid taking the medications for a full 24-hours before your tattoo. If you are required by your family doctor to take these medications, then you have to wait until the prescription has been completed.

Also, it’s very important to be mindful of how medications taken to relieve cold symptoms may impact bleeding. For example, common medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are common components of multi-drug cold medications and can interact with other drugs that affect bleeding. If you’re taking and or combining medications, inform your pharmacist about your up and coming tattoo to make sure than your blood isn’t being thinned out.

How Your Tattooist Feels About It

A cough and sniffle here and there may not make much of a difference to you but it may bother your tattooist. They, like most people, do not want to be exposed to seasonal viruses. The two of you will be engaged in an intimate act for two or more hours and in close-quarters. Don’t put them at risk of catching the virus without giving them the choice to reschedule. Even if you have manageable cold symptoms (i.e. no persistent sneezing or coughing, etc.) leading into the day of your scheduled appointment, let them know about your cold virus so that they don’t feel blindsided. They will greatly appreciate your honesty and will make a decision that works best for the two of you. The worst case scenario is that your tattoo gets rescheduled for a later day but in the end this will achieve the best possible result – a great tattoo!