Is it Normal to Feel Sick After Getting a Tattoo? What Is Tattoo Flu?

Written by: Claudia

Tattoos are meant to be an exciting adventure where your adrenaline is high and you leave with a beautiful piece of artwork to show off to friends and family. But what happens when that high is followed by a severe crash, and you suddenly feel sick after getting your tattoo? Is this normal?


How Can Tattoos Make You Feel Sick?

Tattoos are essentially a medical procedure, where needles are piercing your skin at a rapid pace and introducing a foreign element into your bloodstream by depositing ink into your dermis. This causes severe abrasion trauma to your epidermis, and, in turn, your body has an immune response to this injury.

It responds to the wound by flooding it with red blood cells to repair it, and this immune response can be exhausting on your body, causing an adrenaline crash and making you feel sick.

Is It Normal to Feel Sick After Getting a Tattoo?

It’s absolutely normal to feel sick after getting a tattoo! In fact, it’s so normal that they gave it its own name: tattoo flu. 

Everybody responds differently to trauma, and you can never anticipate how your immune system will respond to the procedure of getting tattooed. This experience causes an extreme influx of adrenaline which may result in a severe crash, following the session. This crash, and your body’s energy being sent to this wounded area for repair, is your body trying to fight back against the tattoo.

This sense of shock can result in your feeling nauseous and sick.

How Long Will It Last?

The length of time that tattoo flu lasts a person depends on their own health, the strength of their immune system, where the tattoo is placed on their body, the size, and the amount of healing it will require. It will be extremely powerful in the first two or three days, but should fade as each day goes by.

What Can You Do to Feel Better?

Like all colds and flus, the best thing you can do for your tattoo flu or your sickness after your session is to allow yourself time for rest and relaxation. It’s also important that you stay hydrated, as this will help your wound heal.

Avoid taking any blood thinners which could compromise the healing of your tattoo, but it’s usually safe to take a pain reliever such as Tylenol.

Tips for Next Time

Tattoo flu can almost never be anticipated, but here are a few tips to make sure you’re in the best shape leading up to your tattoo session.

  • Get a good night’s rest the evening before.
  • Schedule your tattoo for the morning when your adrenaline is highest.
  • Calm your anxiety prior to your session.
  • Stay hydrated leading up to your appointment and during your appointment.
  • Moisturized skin is healthy skin, so nourish it with creams or lotions before your session.
  • Avoid blood thinners, alcohol, or numbing creams which will complicate the process.
  • Eat a meal before getting your tattoo, or bring snacks to keep your sugar high.
  • Speak to your artist about any anxieties you may have.
  • Bring something to keep you distracted during your session.

Our Final Thoughts

Tattoo flu is a rare occurrence, but common enough to have it’s own name, so it’s not something you need to be worried about. Your general health will give you a good idea as to whether a tattoo will be an experience that makes you feel sick or nauseous. If you do happen to feel sick after getting a tattoo, remember that it’s normal, and you should give yourself time to recover so your tattoo heals well.

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The information contained on Tattify is intended for informational and educational purposes only. None of the statements made on this website are intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease, infection or illness. Please consult a healthcare practitioner before using tattoo/skincare products that may interfere with medications or known conditions. This article is provided with the understanding that it does not constitute medical or professional advice or services. If you are looking for help with your condition, please seek out a qualified medical practitioner.

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