One of the not so beautiful parts about tattooing is that it is, quite literally, a wound. As such, the nasty parts of having a wound will expose themselves during and after the tattooing process. This includes bleeding from your tattoo. The amount of blood and the severity of the situation depends upon where you are in the healing process.
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Do All New Tattoos Bleed and How Long Do They Bleed For?
Not all tattoos bleed because some artists with a gentle hand do not reach the level in your skin that initiates bleeding. But bleeding during a tattoo is definitely not uncommon, especially as you sit for longer pieces and your body begins to respond to the trauma. Oftentimes, the tattoo will only start to bleed after you are done with your session.
Normally, your blood will begin to clot the wound prior to even exiting the tattooed region, but sometimes your tattoo will push out any excess plasma, blood, or ink to clear the area prior to clotting. Depending on where you are being tattooed, you also may be more or less likely to notice blood during and after your session. The amount of blood you experience also depends on whether you took blood thinning medication or drank alcohol prior to your session.
What to Do If a New Tattoo Doesn’t Stop Bleeding
In some cases, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of blood you see in the first 48 to 72 hours. This is when your body goes through a process called weeping, where it attempts to clear any bacteria or irritants in your wound to make way for the scabbing stage. This stage can be quite shocking to some people, so we wrote an entire article about this process.
Remember not to panic when you notice bleeding during this stage. Your tattoo is not losing any of its valuable ink and your tattoo will heal beautifully, this is all just a part of the process.
But what if your tattoo continues to bleed after 72 hours? Or what if your tattoo’s bleeding is rather excessive?
An excess of blood could be the result of a heavy-handed and untrained tattoo artist. What you may have thought was tattooing could turn out to be a form of scarification due to the severity of the abrasions. This is why it is important that you research high-quality professional artists beforehand.
If you drink alcohol after your tattoo or take a blood thinner like Aspirin to soothe the pain, you could also experience more blood than usual. This will complicate or slow down the healing process, but won’t ruin the design of your tattoo. It will only take longer for you to appreciate it.
In addition, some people do not treat their new tattoo like a delicate wound and may begin to do strenuous activities shortly after their session. This can reopen the wound and could cause significant bleeding. Getting a tattoo involves making a few sacrifices as you heal; have a look at our article, Can I Work Out With A New Tattoo? - Tattoo Safety Guide.
One final cause for excessive bleeding or bleeding after 72 hours is a potential infection. Tattoo infections are very uncommon but they could be caused by:
- Inexperienced artists
- Unsanitary conditions
- Poor aftercare
- Severe reactions to aftercare products
If the bleeding is due to an infection, it will usually be paired with other symptoms such as:
- Red streaking that extends beyond your tattoo
- Excessive swelling or pain
- Pus or blistering
- Fever or chills
- Your skin feeling hot to the touch
If infection is ever a concern, discuss this with your tattoo artist who could give you recommendations or may suggest you seek medical assistance. More on cleaning infected tattoos.
Your options if you notice that your tattoo is bleeding a lot are as follows:
- Reduce your consumption of alcohol and avoid blood thinners; take things like Tylenol instead to ease the pain.
- Give it time - your tattoo might just be doing it’s thing during the weeping stage.
- Avoid strenuous activities.
- Step up your aftercare game, as you may not have washed off the product or plasma well enough.
- Speak to your artist about your concerns; they may tell you this is normal.
- Speak to a medical professional who will either suggest a treatment or ease your worries.
My Tattoo is Bleeding Ink - Is This Normal?
The tattoo is not bleeding ink, it’s leaking ink, and this is completely normal! This is, in fact, an essential part of the healing stage called weeping. This is when your body pushes out excess plasma, blood, and sometimes ink from the wound to clean it and prepare it for the scabbing stage.
The ink that is being pushed out of your wound is ink that did not settle and serves no purpose to your piece. If you do notice after a month of healing that your tattoo has white spots or is patchy, you could ask your artist for a touch up.
For more information on this stage, check out our article, My New Tattoo Is Leaking Ink! Is This Normal?
Our Final Thoughts
A tattoo is a wound and like most wounds, you’re likely to experience some bleeding. This should stop after the first 72 hours of healing. If the bleeding ever becomes concerning or excessive, don’t take any risks; speak to your artist or a healthcare professional who can guide you and soothe your concerns.