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Summertime is bug bite season from coast to coast in Canada, but for the same reason (exposed skin) it’s also a popular time to get a tattoo. Unfortunately the former is a poor precursor to success for the latter, and that is of concern for those who have a formal or informal date set to get inked. Do you have to skip your appointment, and potentially put off the tattoo you’ve always wanted? This may be a heartbreaking prospect for those who have a tight schedule or have traveled to town (Vancouver or Toronto, for instance) to get a tattoo in the first place, but all is not necessarily lost. If you have been bitten by a smitten insect and have a tattoo on the way, be sure to read below.

5 Things You Need to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo After You’ve Sustained a Bug or Mosquito Bite

1. Promise Not to Itch?

In most cases a bug bite will result in nothing more than an itchy annoyance. Without any significant change (more on this below) to your skin you can certainly proceed with your scheduled appointment when your tattooist agrees to tattoo over or around the bite zone. However, the greatest barrier to success may be staring you in the mirror. Can you sit still under the needle for hours without bursting from the urge to rub or scratch the bite? Will you be able to leave it alone in the all-important healing days that follow completion of the tattoo? You know yourself – if you don’t have the willpower to keep from itching or rubbing the bite, back up and reschedule your appointment.

Note: You will not be able to apply an anti-itch ointment on the day of your tattoo, or in the days after receiving the tattoo, as it may impact the artist’s ability to apply color/tone (when ointment applied prior) and/or cause a reaction when combined with a cleaning solution. This shouldn’t be a problem mind you, when the bite has no impact on skin integrity.

2. Multiple Bites = More Complications

Most bug bites are isolated events, but when it comes to the summer season’s most pesky insect, the mosquito, it is not uncommon to have multiple bites on the area of your intended tattoo. If this is the case, there is simply too much room for complication and discomfort, and little room for your artist to work around. Apply your ointment, avoid aggravating the area, and let your multiple bite points heal before getting tattooed.

3. Impending Allergic Reactions?

In some cases, you may experience a significant skin reaction, with noticeable swelling and redness spreading from the site of the bite or sting and across a large section of skin. In rare but possible scenarios the reaction may span across two major joints (i.e. from the elbow to the shoulder, etc.). Obviously if this has already occurred you will need to wait until the reaction has completely subsided.

However, in other cases you may have an impending allergic reaction, but do not yet exhibit blatant symptoms to will incite you to reschedule your tattoo appointment. To be cautious, learn how to identify the early symptoms of a bug bite infection. This may include minor pain, swelling, warmth or uncharacteristic redness around the area. In some cases, you may develop a fever, with a skin reaction to come. If a fever, chronic headache, nausea, or drowsiness or other potentially toxic event follows a bite, see a physician and hang tight for a few days (or more) before heading into a tattoo shop.

4. Have Sensitive Skin in General?

Even if you’re technically in the clear (meaning your skin) after a bug bite it’s a good idea to postpone your tattoo if you have traditionally sensitive skin. Compared to others, your tattoo will more likely swell and result in discomfort. This can cause your bug bite to become more significant that it was prior to the tattoo, and may not only result in pain and discomfort, it may impact your tattoo’s ability to heal altogether.

5. A Lot Rests on Artist Integrity and Talent

Some less reputable artists will take your money no matter what and will look passed a nasty bug bite and tattoo you with little regard to your experience (i.e. tattooing on the newly sensitive area) and how the tattoo will take considering the fact that your skin tightness and tone may be different at the time of the work. Be sure to vet your tattoo shop candidates well beforehand, using this 7-step guide to choosing a professional tattoo studio, and be sure to contact a shop near you to discuss your concerns about getting a tattoo after sustaining a bug bite.