ironchef

Contact Dermatitis

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Hey Folks,

Just wanted to share my experience from a few years ago dealing with contact dermatitis after a new tattoo. Back in late 2011, I had started a thigh piece on my left thigh which covered basically almost the entire front and side of the left thigh. After a couple of days, I developed a bunch of red spots on the back of my thigh, all outside of the tattoo itself. It wasn't a localized rash as it ran up and down the length of thigh and was in random areas but nothing on the ink itself. My artist unfortunately was just doing a guest spot locally and returned to his country. Best I could do was send me him pictures and even he was puzzled to the point where he recommended I see a doctor.

But before seeing a doctor, I luckily had the benefit of three very good friends to contact. These were old college friends, all of whom were pharmacists and have encountered all types of ailments. One was even tattooed, so I called her first. She hit the nail on the head with her initial diagnosis. She asked if the spots were small and if any had popped and oozing clear serum. When I confirmed, she knew it was contact dermatitis. It basically happened because my skin is normally sensitive and was subjected to the trauma of tattooing. Add to the fact I normally wear briefs and switched to boxers to be comfortable and let the tattoo breathe but by doing so, added new cloth material contacting an area that was already irritated. Plus the shaving and the tape holding the saran wrap in place didn't help either. The fix? Good old Benedryl, both in pill and topical cream format in over the counter form. Within a couple of days, all the spots cleared up.

More info on contact dermatitis from WebMD: Contact Dermatitis Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, & More

I know everyone wants their tattoos to heal up without any issues and try to be diligent about aftercare. I know I do and sometimes verge on madness since it is a permanent investment in my eyes. I did myself a huge favor by getting to know my own body and what works with it. There's no one true formula or cure all that's ideal for everyone. Speak to your artist and the shop management about their recommendations for aftercare and then turn it into your own personal regime that suits you. Ideally, if at all possible, share your experience with the tattoo community so that others can benefit from your experience. Cheers.

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I had this issue when I got my first tattoo about 2 weeks ago. My friend who is pre-med recommended benedryl and it cleared it right up. It is definitely something I wish I knew before I had a mini panic attack about the red rash/spots popping up on a leg that was so recently tattooed.

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Yes!! I think I have this. I was trying to ignore it but shall go to the chemist today. I thought it was a reaction to the medical tape except it keeps coming. It's so itchy! Thank you for posting :-)

Sent from my GT-I8190N using Tapatalk

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Dear all.

I found this discussion and it looks like it could help me with my problem.

I got my first tattoo on Saturday the 18th of this month. The line-work for an irezumi style tattoo, involving my right arm and chest.

The healing process was almost perfect. I stop using Bepanthen on Saturday (after 7 days) following the indication of the tattoo artist.

On Sunday the 26th, when I was in my sister’s place, some red dots appeared near the elbow. In the night of Sunday the dots were spreading and growing, creating some big red areas. On Monday night all the tattooed surface was more or less involved with these red dots/red areas.

I visited a dermatologist and she told me that it was clearly contact dermatitis triggered by the tattoo. She discourages me to have other session ever. The tattoo, in her opinion, should remain unfinished.

She noticed that the problem was not with the black lines that seem not to be involved in this allergic reaction. The irritation was in the skin areas in-between the lines. (I have pics of that)

I asked her if the problem was maybe not the ink, (lines are ok and in some areas are not involved at all) but some other allergenic (I’m sensitive and allergic to different stuff and I have sensitive skin) that triggered the reaction in an already stressed area (for the tattoo)… She said that it doesn’t matter. That anyway the body will have a memory of this problem, associating ink with dermatitis and new ink could trigger a much worse reaction.

I started with antihistamine and cortisone based medicines and the problem is disappearing.

I’m quite worried for this situation but I feel that the problem is not the ink and that I could possibly wait until the situation is ok and have other sessions, maybe after having some kind of “ink patch test”.

Did you ever experience something similar?

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Hi Fala.

He sed that are 10 years that he work with that pigment with no issue ever. He named the brand and it's atcually a good one.

I think that something happened in my sister's place that triggered that reaction - I'm allergic quite a bunch of stuff.

But I feel that I'm not allergic to the ink.

Anyway I'll go to a contact dermatitis specialist to have a secondo opinion.

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Benedryl seems to be about as useful as Aspirin! I found out last year that I have contact allergy to latex. BIG problem when you have a latex catheter in you over a weekend! Many artists like to use latex gloves, so from now on I request nitrile and will even supply them if necessary.

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Have a contact dermatitis flare up on my backpiece. Couldn't figure out what it was initially until I put some Benedyrl cream and took some Benedryl pills. Instantly it calmed down a lot. Will need to keep up the regime for a couple of days to make it go away. My girl looked it over and said doesn't appear to have affected the new ink.

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Have a contact dermatitis flare up on my backpiece. Couldn't figure out what it was initially until I put some Benedyrl cream and took some Benedryl pills. Instantly it calmed down a lot. Will need to keep up the regime for a couple of days to make it go away. My girl looked it over and said doesn't appear to have affected the new ink.

Did someone already ask if you are latex sensitive? I get contact dermatitis from latex gloves/tape/fabric that has latex. I can't use latex in anything at all! I guess this only applies if your artist used latex gloves instead of nitrile! Also I am sensitive to the adhesive that is used on many tapes used to stick something to your skin, maybe something like that?

Also I recently accidentally rubbed cinnamon all over my face, which also irritates the skin...did you happen to bathe in cinnamon post-tattoo? ;p

Good luck with it!!!

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@beez The work on my back was done about 6 weeks ago. It's mostly healed but I started a new job recently and have been dressing up more (dress shirts and ties) for it. I think my skin was like, what the hell is this and just had a flare up. I've dealt with this before in the past but never directly on the ink itself. It was always on the outside non-tattooed areas. My girlfriend said the ink looked fine, just texture wise it was a bit bumpy. Knowing that I have sensitive skin and not full aware of what the reaction is, I decided to err on the side of caution and slathered on a some Benedryl topical cream and also took a Benedryl pill before sleeping. Woke up and it was much calmer (not itchy) and the bumps settled down a lot.

During the day it's little cream and one Benedryl pill. At night, I put a little more cream and take two pills. Hopefully most of it clears up by this weekend. Luckily as we're all taught to never pick or scratch at our ink, I'm fairly confident things will heal and turns out well.

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Have you been eating anything differently, or drinking more, etc recently too? I notice that when my eating/drinking patterns change my skin behaves differently. I have super sensitive skin too, and am allergic to latex!

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@ironchef that sounds terrible, i'm so sorry!! super uncomfortable!!! Maybe an issue with the detergent used in the dress shirts?

In terms of eating something different, I also react to avocado and mangos, which are sometimes cross reactive with latex. I don't understand it fully, just enough to say maybe take a look at that IF there is a latex issue, which doesn't necessarily seem to be what's going on here. @Fala if you also have the latex issue and have some food allergies, check that out!

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@beez - I know which food, drink, other etc issues I have and how they're related - thanks though ;) I've had a latex allergy my entire life, and it has gotten worse with repeated exposure (think: wearing latex gloves for 8 hours a day whilst being exposed to gnarly solvents.) Yucko. Interesting about the avocado/mango cross-issue.

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@Fala that sounds horrible, I hope you aren't still having to wear latex gloves all day! Holy balls that would be uncomfortable.

Re food issues - I am going through an elimination diet as we speak to sort out a number of issues that have flared up that I believe are food-based. I had noticed reactions to avocado and mango before, and just sort of came across the latex cross reaction thing when reading about different allergies and food reactions. I think mangos are actually relatively low on the list of cross reactive foods, but they certainly get me! Don't know if it's the latex thing or a fruit sugar thing or something entirely different. I'm hoping that I figure it soon though!

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Mangoes are up there on the food allergies list for sure, interesting about them being cross-reactive.

No more latex gloves/solvents for me! That was back in my printmaking days, before I discovered the beauty of thick nitrile gloves and these amazing silver colored gloves that block out almost all solvents.

I've done elimination diets before - are you doing 6 weeks off, 6 weeks on, then 6 weeks off again? Apparently, that's the ideal way to do one - lotsa work/time to do it!

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Banana is another one of those latex cross-reactive fruits. I get itchy mouth when I eat avocado or banana.

Reactions to bananas are most often associated with an allergy to natural rubber latex (sometimes referred to as ‘fruit-latex syndrome’). The reason for this is that latex is produced from the sap of the rubber tree, which contains similar proteins to bananas and other foods such as kiwi and avocado. Around 45% of people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to these fruits. Latex allergy can cause very severe symptoms, but this is not always true for the fruits that cross-react to latex. x

Which doesn't help you @ironchef, sorry. My hubs' skin gets irritated sometimes where clothing tags or linings touch him--those "no-tag" Hanes undershirts were the worst, because you can't cut those off--but usually as long as we use a dye and perfume-free detergent and softener, he's okay. It does flare up sometimes out of nowhere, though.

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Re: latex allergies - SOMETIMES people are allergic to the chemicals that are used to preserve the latex and not the latex itself. So, you can be allergic to latex and not have any of the cross-reactive fruit allergies. I used to have a fantastic document on this aspect of latex allergies, but lost it in a computer crash :(

@ironchef - how are you doing today?

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@Fala Much better but its a bit crusty. Thanks for asking. Will continue the regime of Benedryl through the weekend then switch back to lotion it a bit to smooth things out. Don't think anything happened to the tattoo itself which is good. Hopefully will have a good idea in a couple more weeks.

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