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Newbie, wondering about infection/rejection based on reactions to piercings?


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Hey guys! I'm Riley, a 21 year old college student from Canada.

I'm new here, and looking to get my first tattoo soon. I'm a little worried because I've tried ear piercings several times and every time they've gotten infected or rejected/refused to heal, and I'm wondering if that means there's a good chance of the same thing happening with a tattoo. My first ear piercing was with gold and used a gun, so I understand why it got infected. But the second time was a titanium captive bead ring, done with a proper needle at a tattoo/piercing place with a good reputation. It didn't exactly get infected - there was no pain, swelling, pus, etc - but after 5 months it still bled and leaked a clear sticky fluid every time I turned it, and it looked like my earlobe around the ring was trying to grow up over the ring. I'd taken perfect care of it exactly as they told me, used the saline solution spray they gave me, never touched it without washing my hands, etc. Eventually I removed it and let it grow over.

But I'm wondering if that reaction to a piercing means that I might have the same kind of reaction to a tattoo. I can't seem to find a straight answer online as to whether the two are correlated. I know there's always a possibility of infection, etc., but do you think my reaction to the piercings gives me a greater risk of something like that happening?

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It is entirely possible for your body to be allergic to titanium, believe it or not! Anodized titanium can also be problematic for some people. 'Turning' jewelry is not actually good practice, even though a LOT of places still recommend it -- it tends to rupture the forming fistula. And although saline is great for cleaning, if it's over-used, it can be very drying (as you might expect, given its composition). Could've been any number of things, honestly -- tough to say without experimenting, but I can certainly understand why you wouldn't want to go through that kind of discomfort for very long! It sounds very uncomfortable. :(

It could be that your body is hyper-sensitive to foreign materials in it, but I don't think that would happen with tattoos. Ink is not a solid of the same variety, so the immune response will be different...but, I think the small 'test' suggestion is a really good one. (For whatever it's worth, I've had mild trouble with some red inks, where the healing is prolonged in those spots, but even then everything turned out alright...it was just a slightly rougher heal for me. From what I understand, this is not uncommon, so no need to panic!)

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