Tattoos have become much more mainstream over the years, but just because they’re more popular now, doesn’t mean they’re entirely risk-free. Any kind of procedure—no matter how minimal—comes with the possibility of developing complications after it’s performed, which is why tattoo guidelines are pretty strict when it comes to how you should care for your body ink after getting it.
Unfortunately, a 31-year-old, unidentified Hispanic man didn’t listen to the most important rule tattoo artists always urge their clients to follow: Avoid swimming in pools or oceans within two weeks after getting tatted up. According to the Daily Mail, this man went swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico only five days after getting a tattoo on his calf. Twenty-four hours later, he began having chills, a rash near his tattoo and a fever. Over the next two days, his condition worsened before he eventually was admitted to the hospital where he succumbed to the infection.
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While this case isn’t all too common, it does serve as a reminder that tattoos take longer to heal than we think. Because it’s an open wound, fresh tattoos are much more susceptible to infection and should be protected from exposure to places that may harbor possibly dangerous bacteria. In this instance, the man contracted a flesh-eating strain of bacteria called Vibrio vulnificus which affects the immune system and can be especially deadly to people with liver conditions (this particular man had cirrhosis of the liver). However, there’s thousands of other bacteria in water that can cause equally nasty infections, so everyone—regardless of their health status—should be wary of allowing new tattoos near H2O.
So, do yourself a favor and refrain from submerging any new tattoos in water for a minimum of two weeks. After glancing at what this infection can do (pictures here—but beware, they’re pretty graphic), we’ll be memorizing the tattoo guidelines the next time we get inked.
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