Is It Safe to Get a Tattoo During Pregnancy?

If you're thinking of getting a tattoo during pregnancy, here's all the information you should know about it.
Is It Safe to Get a Tattoo During Pregnancy?
Maria del Carmen Hernandez

Written and verified by the dermatologist Maria del Carmen Hernandez.

Last update: 02 August, 2023

The question of whether or not it’s safe to get a tattoo during pregnancy has been around for a long time. Getting a tattoo means injecting ink into the body, so it’s best to avoid it. Whenever a person introduces a foreign substance into their body, there’s a risk to the health of the person and, in this case, also to the baby.

Is there a chance of infection or allergic reactions?

There’s a chance of developing an infection when a woman gets a tattoo during pregnancy. In addition, not all establishments meet minimum safety standards regarding hygiene, equipment, and needles. In fact, non-sterile needles can transmit hepatitis C, hepatitis B, and HIV.

The symptomatology of these diseases is very varied. For example, it can range from fatigue to fever and joint pain. Therefore, contracting these diseases is dangerous for pregnant women because they can transmit them to the baby. The tattoo can even become infected while the healing process is taking place. Therefore, it’s best to consult a doctor in case of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • The presence of pus
  • Chills or perspiration
  • Elevated temperature

A 2016 review concluded that between 0.5 and 6.0% of people develop an infection as a result of a tattoo. In turn, an infection with a bacterial cause can worsen and develop into cellulitis (even more painful) or sepsis.

A woman getting a tattoo on her arm.
Getting an infection after getting a tattoo during pregnancy depends, to a greater extent, on the hygiene conditions of the site and the instruments used.

Local reactions to tattoos

A newly performed tattoo is an open wound, so it has a significant chance of developing an infection. Therefore, a person with a weakened immune system, such as a pregnant woman, may be at greater risk. In cases of local adverse reactions, the following signs may be observed around the tattoo:

  • Increased erythema and edema
  • Yellow crusting
  • Oozing of pus
  • Intense pain

Even the components of the inks can trigger an inflammatory reaction in the tattooed region. This is due to the fact that in their composition, they have several minerals that generate the tonality.

Skin changes during pregnancy

Hormonal alterations that occur during pregnancy generate changes in the skin. This not only expands to contain a pregnant uterus inside, but also becomes more sensitive and delicate.

These expansions of the skin can cause stretch marks on the skin surface and, consequently, affect the tattoo. In most cases, the abdomen and legs are the areas most frequently affected.

Hormonal changes can also cause hyperpigmentation of certain specific areas of the body or residual hyperpigmentation marks. In fact, 70% of pregnant women experience melasma.

How to perform a tattoo safely during pregnancy

If the decision is made to get a tattoo despite being pregnant, there are certain precautions that must be taken into account to ensure a safe content and p rocedure:

  • Look for establishments that are sanitized and authorized.
  • Use an autoclave to sterilize equipment and needles.
  • Check that the needles come from individual closed packages.
  • Make sure the tattoo artist uses new latex gloves.
  • Inform the tattoo artist about the pregnancy.
  • Make sure the tattoo artist is a registered practitioner.

After the tattoo is done, follow the tattoo artist’s instructions to avoid complications and possible eventualities. For example, the routine application of moisturizing cream and the constant use of sunscreen on the recent tattoo.

A woman getting a henna tattoo on her belly.
Henna tattoos last only a few days, are easy to remove, and don’t carry any risk of hepatitis or HIV infection.

Henna as a temporary tattoo during pregnancy

Natural henna is a dye derived from the Lawsonia inermis plant. Compared to permanent tattooing, it’s temporary, is much cheaper, is painless, and can be applied anywhere on the body.

These tattoos are generally used to dye skin, hair, and nails and as a component of some cosmetic products and shampoo. Also, according to a review in Clinics in Dermatology, they have a very low allergy potential.

One of the few safety concerns to be aware of with a henna tattoo during pregnancy is to make sure the tattoo artist doesn’t use black henna. Ideally, use the natural form of henna, which is usually marketed in a range of red, brown, and orange colors.

Tattooing and pregnancy considerations

Tattooing involves causing injury to the skin. Therefore, there’s a risk of developing an infection. In addition, at this stage, the skin undergoes changes, so it’s not a good idea to generate intentional trauma to the skin. There may even be an allergic reaction to the ink, pain, or discomfort.

It’s best to wait until the baby is born to get the tattoo. This avoids exposure to situations that can compromise both the mother’s and the child’s life.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Kluger N. Can a mother get a tattoo during pregnancy or while breastfeeding? Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2012 Apr;161(2):234-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2012.01.012. Epub 2012 Feb 11. PMID: 22326613.
  • Fitzpatrick C, Teoh TG, Darling MR. Tattoos in pregnant women; an important clinical sign. Ir Med J. 1991 Dec-1992 Jan;84(4):130-1. PMID: 1817122.
  • Kazandjieva J, Grozdev I, Tsankov N. Temporary henna tattoos. Clin Dermatol. 2007 Jul-Aug;25(4):383-7. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2007.05.013. PMID: 17697921.
  • Dieckmann, Ralf y col. “El riesgo de infección bacteriana después de un tatuaje”. Deutsches Arzteblatt international vol. 113, 40 (2016): 665-671. doi: 10.3238 / arztebl.2016.0665
  • Kar S, Krishnan A, Shivkumar PV. Pregnancy and skin. J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2012 Jun;62(3):268-75. doi: 10.1007/s13224-012-0179-z. Epub 2012 Aug 28. PMID: 23730028; PMCID: PMC3444563.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.