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Tattoos are impressive works of art. It’s a remarkable way to express yourself. Getting a tattoo, however, is not as easy as enduring some pain and going home with a tattoo and continuing as before. Your tattoo needs to heal and this is when an ink sack tattoo happens.
If it is your first tattoo it can be extremely jarring to look down at your new piece of art only to see a bubble filled with dark liquid. This is known as an ink sack tattoo and it is completely harmless albeit frightening.
What is Ink Sack Tattoo?
First off, they’re not dangerous and won’t damage your tattoo.
Traditionally, ink sack tattoos didn’t exist because the aftercare was different. However, when tattoo artists started to use Saniderm to cover their tattoos this bubble phenomenon started to appear.
Basically, the Saniderm is like a second skin—it sticks to the undamaged parts of the skin and forms a seal. As the plasma is released from the injured skin, you’ll see an ink sack form. They’re a natural and healthy part of the tattoo healing process.
But why does it happen?
Saniderm, the plastic bandage that tattoo artists use nowadays protects your tattoo from many things. Not only does it allow your tattoo to breathe, and keep bacteria and other irritants off your skin, all of which promote healing, but it also prevents your tattoo from scabbing. This is because the plasma that would normally seep from your tattoo as it heals keeps your tattoo moisturised.
Not sure what plasma is?
Well, it is a result of your body’s attempt to heal itself. Since a tattoo is an open wound, your body sends inflammatory fluid to it to help it repair. This liquid is called plasma and it is what mixes and pools under the Saniderm bandage to create an ink sack after tattoos.
If you’re worried that it will ruin your tattoo, it does quite the opposite actually. The ink sack will help keep your tattoo moist and this will prevent it from bleeding, scabbing, and itching.
The Saniderm also stops clothing and bedding from rubbing against your tattoo. Sleeping with a new tattoo is a tricky business! Without it, your skin would be irritated by the constant friction and your tattoo won’t heal as well.
When To Remove the Ink Sack Tattoo
Colour tattoos or ones with heavy saturation tend to form ink sacks fast and will need to be replaced sooner than other tattoos. When your ink sack is as thick as a quarter, it is time to pull off the Saniderm and clean the area. You don’t want the ink sack to become too full or it may lift and allow fluid to leak out, and when there is space for something to go out, there’s space for bacteria to creep in.
If you don’t have an ink sack or it isn’t as thick as a quarter, it’s still recommended you remove the Saniderm 24 hours after getting the tattoo to give it a good clean. Afterward, you can keep the Saniderm on for six days unless it forms another ink sack and you need to clean it again. Always keep an eye on the seal of the film. If there are any areas where it is lifting up, it’s best to replace it. The last thing you want is an infection that will ruin your tattoo.
If you’re unsure if you have an infection, keep an eye out for redness, swelling, irritation, and itching in the first 24 hours. Of course, most fresh tattoos will have these symptoms but if it is severe, you may have an infection. Other things to look out for are fever, pus, sensitivity to touch, blisters, bad smell, blisters, and severe pain. Serious infections aren’t very common but if you notice anything unusual, seek medical help.
Also, if you remove the film too early, you’re more at risk of developing an infection. So, listen to your tattoo artist’s advice and use Saniderm for as long as they tell you to even when you have to replace it a few times. You’ll protect your skin and your tattoo and the results will be phenomenal.
How To Remove An Ink Sack
Saniderm works just like a band-aid, so all you have to do is grab hold of it and pull it away from your skin gently. Once that is done, you have to clean it with mild, antibacterial soap and let it try completely. If you want, you can apply a tattoo aftercare balm of your choice before reapplying the Saniderm. Just make sure that you apply it to the tattoo only so that the skin surrounding it is oil-free and dry for the film to adhere to.
When you clean your tattoo, don’t submerge it in water. In fact, it’s better to take a shower with your tattoo to prevent any bacteria from infecting it. When you dry your tattoo, be sure not to rub the area; use a patting motion instead.
To those of you who may be asking, “Can you pop an ink sack tattoo?”
Popping an ink sack is not recommended. It will break the barrier of the film and allow bacteria to get in and an infection to begin. If you see any holes in the Saniderm or places where it is lifting from your skin, take it off, clean and dry the area immediately, and place a new film over it.
If you’re wondering how you can prevent ink sacks from forming, one question: Why would you want to? Ink sacks are great at protecting the look and colour vibrancy of your tattoos. They’re a natural reaction to the process of driving needles into your skin over and over again. When you see an ink sack tattoo, you know that your body is trying to help your tattoo heal.
However, if for some reason you really don’t want an ink sack tattoo, don’t use Saniderm or another film-type bandage to cover your tattoo. Traditional tattoo aftercare has worked for years, so you won’t be harming your tattoo if you decide to use cling film or plastic to cover your tattoo.
Ink sack tattoos aren’t unhealthy or bad for your tattoo. Yes, they may look a little gross and if it is your first tattoo you may be worried that something went wrong. But if you get an ink sack, know that it is the type of tattoo aftercare you’re using that is causing it to form, and that it is completely normal.
As long as you follow your tattoo artist’s tattoo aftercare recommendations, your tattoo will have a shorter healing time and it will look better than the day you got it!
Remember, wherever you go for a tattoo, choose a reputable tattoo artist so that you know you’re not only getting a work of art in a clean and sterile environment, but you’re getting the best aftercare advice possible. If you do that, you’ll have an awesome time and will walk away with a jaw-dropping tattoo that heals perfectly—ink sack or not.