Tattoos...is there a real risk?

Question

Hello Dr F,

I got a tattoo about one month ago at a licensed shop by a certified artist. I called the health department to make sure, and everything checked out. New needles and tubes were opened in front of me. However, I've not been feeling well (achy, feverish) since I got tattooed. I even got tested this past week (negative), but I'm still concerned (window period). Keep in mind, I have diagnosed OCD. Could my anxiety be making me feel Ill? What are the real risks with tattoos? CDC says "no documented cases", and while I'm sure everything is fine, I'm still anxious. I'm sure it's just my OCD, which I am being treated for, but would you mind sharing your knowledge?

Thank you,

An anxious guy

Answer

Thanks for writing. While there can be risk from tattoo parlors (for both HIV and Hep C) that usually pertains to shops that may not be adequately licensed and monitored.

The fact that you checked this establishment out with the health department and that you saw them unwrap new needles indicates that you have no risk from that encounter.

It is entirely likely that your anxiety disorder is escalating your feelings about this. I would recommend utilizing whatever techniques work for you in terms of breaking the obsessive thinking and reducing overall anxiety levels.

For peace of mind I would continue to get tested for three months but I don't really see any risk in what you have described.

Best,

David