Q. How do I Overcome my Fear of Needles?
A. It’s all in the mind, and how badly you really want the tattoo.
I wouldn’t really describe the pain as feeling like a needle..it doesn’t go very far into the skin at all. It feels more like a hot vibrating sensation than anything else. And yes…if you have a fear of needles, watching can make it worse. But I will tell you that your lower back is a lot more sensitive than some other areas. Some of your less-painful areas are the back of your shoulder, your thigh, your hip, buttocks, and sometimes your upper arm.
Q. How Much Do They Really Hurt?
A. The Pain Factor and the Fear Factor
The question has been posed time and time again, and I never seem to read a satisfying answer – How much does getting a tattoo hurt? Professional tattooists and long-time collectors sometimes tend to forget what it was like to be on the other side of the chair for the first time. Although there is no way for me to tell each individual what it will feel like for them, I will do my best to offer some encouragement.
It’s true that everyone has a different threshold of pain. What one person considers not painful at all could be devastating to another. Some people describe the feeling as a “hot scratch”. Some have said it was “annoying”. Most say it was not nearly as bad as they feared. But there is a little more than pain alone to consider when getting a tattoo.
Fainting and Tears
You may have heard horror stories about people passing out or crying from the intense pain. First of all, people pass out because their blood sugar drops from not eating or they just allow themselves to get too worked up and their own fear knocks them out. Pain is usually not the culprit when someone faints during a tattoo. As far as crying goes, there are some that find the pain too much to bear. These people are few and far between – don’t assume you’re going to be one of them. I shed a couple tears myself once – after an eight-hour session that was pure torture during the last two from all the stress on my body. More than likely, you are not going to be sitting down to an 8 hour tattooing session! So don’t give in to the horror stories – we moms love to share labor and birth horror stories, but that doesn’t stop girls from having babies!
Fear of Needles or Blood
If you have a fear of needles or blood, getting a tattoo isn’t going to be easy. However, I would like to point out that tattoo needles do not enter the skin very far as many fear – actually, it only goes in about 1/16 of an inch. Take a look at a ruler and you’ll see just how insignificant that is. Another thing you can do is get your tattoo somewhere on your body where you will not be able to watch the work going on. This helps some to overcome the apprehension, by not actually seeing the needle.
The needles move in an up-and-down motion, carefully pushing the ink just below the surface of the skin. The damage to your skin is so minimal that many people don’t bleed at all – or very little. The tattoo artist will also be constantly wiping up your skin to clean off any traces of blood, so it’s done in a very clean and professional manner. Excessive bleeding usually only results when the patron has been drinking alcohol or taking some kind of blood thinner (like aspirin).
I do not consider myself real tolerant of pain. But certain things hurt more than others. I can endure childbirth much better than I can deal with a toothache. I think the end result and the reason you are experiencing the pain can affect how much it hurts. Getting a tattoo is one that I consider worth the discomfort because of the outcome. I know that I’m going to have this beautiful piece of artwork on me that I can be proud of when it’s all said and done.
You’re Not Alone
Another thing to consider is the fact that nearly everyone is nervous when they go to get a tattoo. I don’t care how many you already have, there is always a feeling of apprehension when you sit in the chair. This is your body’s natural defense – endorphins. Your own endorphins will kick in and help to ease any pain or discomfort you are about to deal with. The first 60 seconds is usually the worst, and then when you realize it’s just not that bad, you calm down and the rest is smooth sailing.
Learn As Much As You Can
And the number one thing that I find helps me to deal with any situation of feeling anxious is being 100% educated and informed about what I’m getting into. When I wanted to get my first tattoo, I did so much research about the whole process and exactly what to expect that I fell in love with the art. When I finally made the decision to get my first tattoo, I knew exactly what to expect and was not nearly as nervous as I thought I would be.
If you truly want a tattoo, and you take the time to be educated about the process and how to choose the right artist that you can have complete confidence in, I promise you that you will not run out the door screaming due to the pain. You will walk out of that studio with a smile on your face, and your permanent “rite of passage” that is well deserved for overcoming your obstacle of fear.
Q. Is my Tattoo Infected?
A. If you think your tattoo (or piercing) might be infected, don’t sit around waiting for it to get worse! Signs of infection are severe pain, hot redness, swelling and/or a puss discharge (with or without the presence of blood), or a foul odor emanating from the area. Infection that is not properly tended to can result in serious health consequences and even death. It is not something to be taken lightly. See your doctor immediately. We are all susceptible to Staph infections – the bacteria that causes it resides on our bodies and just waits for an opportunity to take hold, like in a fresh new tattoo or piercing wound.
Incidentally, if you believe any tattoo or piercing infection is a result of poor sanitary conditions during the procedure, please let your doctor know and have yourself tested for blood disease such as Hepatitis.
Q. Does a Tattoo Restric Physical Activity?
A. Physical activity (non-contact sports) is usually OK to continue when you get a new tattoo as long as you take extra good care of it. If you get sweaty, take a shower and clean it as soon as you can. If you’re a body builder, just avoid lifting weights with that particular muscle for a few days so you don’t stretch it too much. Keep it covered if it has to come in contact with any tight clothing that may rub during movement, but remove any covering as soon as your workout is completed.
Contact sports like football and wrestling, however, are much more potentially damaging for a new tattoo. In this case, a tattoo would really not be a wise choice unless it was possible to avoid the sport for at least a couple of weeks.
Q. Why is my Tattoo Peeling and Flaking Off?
A. Peeling and flaking of a new tattoo is perfectly normal. Before it actually begins to peel, the tattoo will look like it’s covered with a whitish, cracking film. Then you’ll see white or translucent flakes of old, dead skin start to peel off and some of the flakes may even contain some ink. Sometimes you can actually see a duplicate image of part of your tattoo peeling off – it’s rather disconcerting, but it is also perfectly normal and there is no need to panic. It’s a lot like a snake shedding its skin. Just add a little lotion (a LITTLE) to the tattoo to help keep it moist and encourage those flakes to come off. Do NOT scratch, pick or peel them. It will all be done in a few days and the color of your tattoo will start to return to normal.
Q. Can a Mole be Tattooed Over?
A. Although moles are usually benign and we go through life ignoring them, there is always the possibility that a mole could serve as an indicator of cancer. This makes the preservation of a mole important. One of the ways a mole can indicate a problem is by changing color. If it has been tattooed over with pigment, it may hinder your ability to spot any color differences. For your safety, it is best that a mole not be tattooed over.
However, a mole can be tattooed around. Sometimes moles are even incorporated purposely into the design to serve an artistic purpose. Be sure to keep an eye on your mole for any changes in size or color, and see a doctor immediately if it does.
Q. Can I Still Get a Tattoo if I’m Sick?
A. Getting a tattoo when your immune system isn’t at 100% isn’t a good idea. You’re going to need your strength and your white blood cells to heal your tattoo, something your body won’t be able to do if it’s already doing battle against virus and bacteria. Not to mention the fact that it’s very inconsiderate to bring your illness into the tattoo studio and risk passing the germs onto others, particularly your artist. If you have an appointment, call and reschedule for when you’re feeling well again.
Q. What Tattoo Should I Get and Where Should I Put it?
A. This is all a matter of personal taste. You can get whatever you want, and whatever your artist is willing to do. You can choose a picture off the wall, or you can have them create a custom piece just for you. Your only limit is your own imagination. As far as where you should get it goes, just keep in mind what you do for work and the type of social circles you are in. You might want to consider placing your tattoo where it can be easily covered up with normal clothing.
Q. How Much do Tattoos Cost?
A. When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for. Yes, there are plenty of people tattooing out there that will ink you cheap, and you’ll be crying to a real artist to have it covered up. Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. NEVER haggle over the price of a tattoo. It is disrespectful to the artist. If you can’t pay for quality, don’t bother. This is not a bargain bin. It is a piece of art you will wear for life.
Q. How Can I Find Pictures of a Specific Tattoo?
A. If you’re getting a tattoo, especially as an expression of your individuality, why would you want a tattoo just like someone else’s? Instead, find other pictures of what you’re looking for and have your artist draw up a custom design for you. Example: If you are wanting a tattoo of a penguin standing on a glacier, find real photos of penguins and glaciers. If you want a tattoo of a blue rose wrapped around a cross, find pictures of real roses and crosses that you like. If the pictures don’t show exactly what you want, just take them to your artist to use them as guidelines and tell them what changes you want made to the original pictures. A real artist will welcome the challenge of a custom piece. Copying someone else’s tattoo is not acceptable.