Woman Horrified As Severe Psoriasis Destroys Her Tattoo
A woman has been left devastated after severe and quick-spreading psoriasis covered her entire body and turned the rose tattoo on her arm into an unrecognisable, blurry mess.
When Kelly OHanlon, 35, first noticed her scalp was itchy and flaky, she thought it was simply dandruff, so she started using a specialist shampoo.
But when that made little difference, she saw her GP and was diagnosed with psoriasis an incurable condition which sees the skin become covered in crusty patches.
Over the next few years, Kelly who has two children tried all sorts of treatments, including topical creams and UVB light therapy, but nothing controlled the condition for long.
I went from having a patch of psoriasis the size of a 50p to my legs, arms, stomach and even face being covered in red, sore patches, says Kelly.
The tattoo on my arm, which I got in 2017 and have always loved, was particularly affected. One day it was there, and the next it had disappeared into a blurred, distorted mess.
The initial patch on Kellys scalp began to get grow and get incredibly itchy, but Kelly admits she never expected the condition to spread as quickly as it did.
Over the next three months, Kellys symptoms worsened until her hairline and the skin behind her ears were also covered in crusty patches.
In September 2011, she was officially diagnosed with plaque psoriasis the most common form of the condition and given some prescription-strength coal tar shampoo.
Psoriasis Triggered By A Tattoo
If you suffer from psoriasis, getting a tattoo isnt the best idea if you want to avoid a flare-up. It may even cause a first-time reaction. As we know, anything that punctures or scrapes the skin can trigger this autoimmune disease to go into overdrive. The pinpricks of the tattoo needle can cause skin cells to renew too quickly, resulting in scaly, itchy patches on the skin.
What Is The Koebner Phenomenon
The Koebner phenomenon refers to the development of skin lesions following an injury to healthy skin.
It can result from a simple scratch, but it can also be a response to tattooing, especially in people with psoriasis.
For example, a person with psoriasis may choose a location for a tattoo where they have never experienced skin changes.
After having the tattoo, however, a psoriasis-like flare might occur. This typically occurs weeks later, though some people have reported reactions occurring later still.
A 2013 paper in the journal CMAJ cites figures suggesting that around 25% of people with psoriasis will experience the Koebner phenomenon after sustaining a skin injury such as a tattoo.
In the Koebner phenomenon, symptoms usually only affect the area where skin damage has occurred. It is not an infection, and it is not contagious.
Doctors do not fully understand why the Koebner phenomenon occurs. They know that it is common in people with psoriasis, but they cannot predict who will experience it after getting a tattoo and who will not.
A person with psoriasis should be aware of the risk of experiencing lesions on the tattooed area, even if psoriasis plaques have never occurred in that area before.
The Koebner phenomenon is a temporary change. Treatments that are suitable for other types of psoriasis can usually help resolve it.
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What Skin Reactions Can Occur
Getting a tattoo or piercing can increase a persons risk of developing the following:
Keloid behind the ear
Keloid: This is a raised thick scar. A keloid can form on newly tattooed or pierced skin. Keloids are more common in African Americans and people who have a family history of these scars. No one is sure why keloids form. Some researchers think the body overreacts when the skin is injured.
If you develop a keloid, you should see your dermatologist. Treatment can reduce the size and sometimes help improve the appearance of the scar. Keloids can be stubborn though and do not always respond well to treatment.
Infection: Body art punctures the skin. Any time you puncture your skin, you increase your risk of getting an infection. If you have any of the following symptoms after getting a tattoo or piercing, see a doctor right away:
- Red, swollen skin
- Green or yellow discharge
Waiting to see whether you get better can increase your risk of developing a serious or life-threatening infection.
Nickel allergic reaction
Allergic reaction: Some people have an allergic reaction to jewelry inserted during a body piercing. Some jewelry
contains nickel. Many people are allergic to nickel. Others have an allergic reaction to tattoo ink.
If you develop an allergic reaction, your skin will be itchy and red where you have a tattoo or where the jewelry touches your skin. This reaction can occur shortly after getting the body art or years later.
When Is The Best Time To Get A Tattoo
People with psoriasis should not go to a tattoo parlor when they are experiencing psoriasis symptoms, even if the flare-ups are not where they want to place their body art. The immune system is already reacting to psoriasis flares, and a new tattoo may worsen the problem.
Some states have laws that will prohibit tattoo artists from taking a client with active skin lesions, skin infections, or allergic reactions on the skin. I went for a tattoo recently and had to leave because I had a few spots of psoriasis on my arm, a MyPsoriasisTeam member reported.
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Q: If You Have Psoriasis Can Getting A Tattoo Cause Symptoms To Flare
A: The risk for people with psoriasis is what we refer to as the Koebner phenomenon. Psoriasis plaques form at the site of a skin irritation or, in this case, a tattoo. It typically shows up in two to four weeks, but it can also occur months to years later. Not everyone with psoriasis will have this reaction. But if you have ever had a cut or burn that led to a psoriasis flare, then you may react similarly with a tattoo. If psoriasis plaques do develop, see your dermatologist.
Psoriasis And Tattoos Making Your Statement
Three in ten Americans have at least one tattoo, this according to a recent Harris Poll. Tattoos tend to be very acceptable these days, and they are particularly important for many with psoriasis.
Tattoos are a great way to express yourself. Unfortunately, tattoos cannot cover plagues and patchy skin spots. You also cannot place tattoos in areas of the body more to psoriasis breakouts, such as the scalp, elbows, and knees.
While you cannot cover embarrassing skin spots on your body, body art is a beautiful way to make your statement. It may also give you more confidence about showing your psoriasis-affected skin.
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When Tattoos Go Beyond Art
Tattoos may have a significance for some who receive them as an expression of their values and beliefs. Tattoos are an ancient practice, and they are incorporated into cultural and religious practices around the world.
People who live with chronic illness who may receive a tattoo as part of their culture may wish to consult healthcare providers in order to assess and minimize any potential risks. In the instance that a tattoo is part of a tradition, its important for healthcare providers and tattoo artists to respect how body art is important to a persons identity.
Theres a theory that short-lived exposure to stress, such as when getting a tattoo, could be beneficial for the immune system. The authors of one study made a comparison between the immune response of getting a tattoo with the beneficial stress that comes from regular exercise. However, they point out that tattooing doesnt have the same beneficial impact as vaccines or exercise and that people with tattoos still need to care for their health appropriately.
Whatever the reason for receiving a tattoo, its important to consider and be prepared for the potential risks.
What Are Some Other Risks To Consider When Getting A Tattoo
If you decide to get a tattoo, it is extremely important to check the credentials of the tattoo studio and the tattoo practitioner. The first thing you should do is ask about the tattoo studios procedures for hygiene, sterilization, and other safety practices. If you are tattooed with a needle that is not been cleaned properly, then you can develop very serious infections that can affect your immune system and make your psoriasis worse. Tattoo needles can also insert bacteria or viruses that are present on the surface layer of your skin, which can also cause infections. Serious infections that are possible include hepatitis B, hepatitis C, herpes, and HIV1.
Some people with psoriasis who get a tattoo find that the tattoo becomes discolored in areas where the skin is affected by symptoms3. Some states, such as Louisiana, have laws that prohibit giving tattoos to people who have psoriasis symptoms in the area where the tattoo will be.
Tattoos can also cause other types of skin reactions2. Some people develop large scars called keloids or have swelling, scaling, or sores that form on the tattooed skin. The safety of the ink used in tattoos have not all been tested for safety and may not have been designed for tattooing purposes.
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Drinking Frequently Or In Excess
If you drink daily or have more than 2 drinks in a day frequently, your treatment for psoriasis may have little or no effect. Even treatment that could be effective for you may not work and youll continue to have flare-ups.
Reduce the risk of flare-ups from drinking
If you continue to drink, limit how much you drink in a day. Women should stop after 1 drink. Men should limit themselves to 2 drinks per day.
Be sure to tell your dermatologist if you drink alcohol. Drinking can make it risky to take some psoriasis medications like methotrexate.
Drinking frequently or in excess
If you drink daily or have more than 2 drinks in a day frequently, your treatment for psoriasis may have little or no effect.
Can You Get A Tattoo If You Have Psoriasis
Kawika Chann has been a writer for TatRing for more than 6 years and has dealt with psoriasis since age 33.
Tattoos and Psoriasis
For many psoriasis sufferersyou know who you are out theresome tasks or errands that seem to be commonplace for others are events that cause some discomfort and, at times, embarrassment.
Things like getting a haircut or even showing up at the doctor’s office for an appointment are gut-wrenching and anxiety-inducing events. You already have to put up with the stares from children that are so innocent and in wonder, but the adults that look at you with a measuring mind to see if you’re in worse shape than they are: “Wow, I thought my psoriasis was bad . . . “.
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Rue Monroe 28 Davenport Iowa
Rue Monroe, who works as a librarian, was diagnosed with psoriasis at age 2 and has a total of seven tattoos. She got her first tattoo at age 24 â a small crescent moon on her inner left wrist â to pay homage to the Pagan religion she follows.
When Monroe got her third tattoo at age 26, an hourglass on her right calf, a patch of psoriasis soon developed. âThe patch of psoriasis was diamond shaped and just touched the border of my tattoo,â she says. âIâm happy it didnât spread and take over my tattoo, at least!â
Preparing For The Healing Process
While any number of complications can make the tattoo healing process longer, especially common issues like infections, anyone with psoriasis should be ready to deal with a longer-than-normal healing process. This, of course, applies if you develop a flare-up in the area where you got your new tattoo, but it applies in other ways, too.
For example, after receiving a new tattoo, you should be disinfecting and washing it at least twice per day for the first two weeks once in the morning and once in the evening. Since those with psoriasis tend to have more sensitive skin, you should find a gentle disinfectant that wont irritate or break out other areas of your skin before your first session.
If youre used to dealing with psoriasis plaques, it may be tempting to pick at or itch your new tattoo as it heals. However, youll need to commit to leaving it alone, as picking at your tattoo can slow down your healing or even lead to infection. Using a good tattoo healing lotion can help to prevent itching and irritation if this is something youre likely to suffer with.
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Working With The Artist
Both Williams and Monroe talked to their tattoo artists to find out about the risks and even the laws concerning tattooing people with psoriasis.
Tattoo artists in Oregon, Wisconsin and Louisiana, for example, arenât permitted to work on any area of the skin where there are lesions. Louisiana even has a clause that specifically mentions psoriasis. South Carolina also prohibits tattooing on skin with any type of irregularity, such as a rash, sunburn, lesion or pimple.
âIf I go to a new artist, I make sure they know exactly what is going on, and I doublecheck theyâre happy to tattoo me,â says Williams. âI have certain tattoo artists that I go to and that are well aware of my skin condition and are amazing.â
Monroe says she also consults with her tattoo artist before each session and ensures that he or she is OK with tattooing her.
Rhode Island-based tattoo artist Nicole Coogan has found that if clients have a good understanding of their experiences with psoriasis as well as the condition of their skin at the time of the appointment, it helps in making the best decisions for safely executing tattoo placement and artwork. She says she has had a lot of success with her clients who have psoriasis.
âTrauma to the skin may cause plaques to build on the area, so tattooing is definitely a higher risk in an individual with psoriasis,â Coogan says. âBut depending on the person, it is not completely impossible.â
Q: What Are The Biggest Risks Of Getting A Tattoo
A: Tattoo ink contains various chemicals, such as aluminum, iron oxide, manganese, and mercury sulfide. These ingredients can cause an allergic reaction such as a rash or swelling. Yellow and some red tattoo inks that contain cadmium sulfide pose the greatest risk of a photoallergic reaction, which is triggered by exposure to sunlight.
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Does Psoriasis Develop In Tattooed Areas
Since psoriasis develops with trauma to the skin, the initial and continuous needle prick would definitely qualify as trauma to an area where the tattoo is being done. With this said, wherever a tattoo is on your body, psoriasis can develop. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’tthere are no published studies in this area.
On the other hand, sometimes no new areas of psoriasis breakout occur regardless of the tattoo placement. There are doctors that leave the decision of getting a tattoo entirely up to the patient themselves, as long as the patient understands that there is a chance of psoriasis developing in the tattooed area.
Tattoos And Arthritis: Understanding The Risks
Id never tell a patient that they cant do something they really want to do , says Alexa Meara, MD, rheumatologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio. For someone with RA, their risk of infection can be higher. When it comes to patients who want a tattoo, I recommend researching to find a clean, well-reviewed, and reputable place, she says.
Here are some concerns that people with arthritis or related musculoskeletal pain need to think about before deciding to get a tattoo:
Issues With Stiffness/pain During The Procedure
Keep in mind that you may need to keep still for a long period of time during the procedure. This could be more challenging for people with arthritis, who can have pain and stiffness in joints when theyre immobile. Its important to let your tattoo artist know about your disease and your concerns. When selecting a tattoo artist, ask around and look for recommendations of people who will be sensitive to your health needs. You may need to take more frequent breaks during the procedure, for example.
What Can Trigger A Psoriasis Outbreak
If you have psoriasis, it is very important to know what your triggers are for your body. If you don’t know what your body’s triggers are, keep a journal to find out. To help you on your way, above you will find the most common triggers.
|Triggers to Psoriasis|
Viral, upper respiratory infections and strep throat can affect your immune system and cause an outbreak.
Wash your hands often, exercise, and keep your immune system strong.
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Questions To Ask Before Getting A Tattoo
Before getting a tattoo, a person should ask the tattoo artist about their sanitation techniques and how they keep their equipment clean.
For example, every tattoo parlor should have a machine called an autoclave that sterilizes instruments at ultra-high heats. Staff should always wear gloves during this procedure.
Also, the artist should place tattoo inks in a single-use cup and throw them away after completing a tattoo.
A person may also wish to ask to observe how the tattoo artist prepares the instruments before getting a tattoo. They do not have to agree to this step, but if they do, it can provide peace of mind for some people.
It may also be worth asking which brand and colors of ink the tattoo artist will be using. Then, a person can check whether there are any active recalls on the product.