Burn, Baby, Burn!
August 19, 2009 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Holy Crap! I burned a tattoo!

The other day, I got a serious burn right on one of my tattoos (hot exhaust+forearms=teh suck)
I gave it some first aid, but it's a really nasty, deep, ugly burn and it's probably going to scar. Unfortunately, it's right in the line of fire, as far as being aggravated goes. It gets touched and scraped all the time and I'm really worried about how messed up the ink will be when it finally heals.
Aside from keeping it covered (I'm doing my best, but I tend to sweat the bandages off), what other advice do you have for helping this come out at least ok-ish? Is my ink doomed? I'm really upset and worried.
posted by Jon-o to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Go see the artist perhaps? They may have suggestions for care now and might be able to touch it up once the burn heels.
posted by zachlipton at 3:27 PM on August 19, 2009

I set myself on fire quite often and have no scars to show for it. My method follows:

Immediately after burn, apply Second Skin burn pads. You'll need medical tape to keep it in place. The hydrogel feels amazing. Ahh...

Then the next day, rinse your wound! Then apply something like Band-aid's Activ-Flex and leave it for a few days. The band-aid will puff up from the liquid the burn releases but that's ok! Change it every two days and in about a week it will have healed. You'll still have a pink scar for another two weeks but that will fade.

Neosporin is bad for tattoos, skip it.
posted by idiotfactory at 3:36 PM on August 19, 2009 [20 favorites]

Also, if the burn is particularly large or deep, or appears to be infected in any way (swelling, pus, increased redness, etc...), you really should see a doctor. It may be be nothing, but burns aren't worth messing around with. This site says to see a doc for all burns larger than 2-3" in diameter or for any 3rd degree burn. That article has some good general burn care tips too.
posted by zachlipton at 3:42 PM on August 19, 2009

My understanding is that it is possible (though apparently more difficult) to tattoo over a burn scar. I second the suggestion to talk to the artist about a touch-up if it does show damage.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:05 PM on August 19, 2009

When I suffered severe burns, I was told by the docs at the burn unit that there were tattoo artists who could tattoo over my scars. (Most patients who do this try to make their scars a color more closely resembling their natural skin tint, but there's no reason I couldn't have picked something else. I never bothered, in any case.) If your artist doesn't know what to do about scars, perhaps you could contact your local burn unit and see if they can recommend somebody. You could either go to this new person or have your current artist contact them for pointers.

Seconding zachlipton that burns are not to be taken lightly. If yours is deep enough, there is a serious risk for infection. My burns came from direct skin contact on a 180°F metal heat source for as little as 15 seconds; hotter surfaces can burn much faster. In any case, I needed skin grafts. If your situation is similar, please consider seeing a doctor, who may at least prescribe more powerful topical antibiotics (e.g. silvadene) if necessary.
posted by Chef Flamboyardee at 7:13 PM on August 19, 2009

I've got tattoos over burn scars, though not particularly severe ones (the scars, not the tattoos). Talk to a good tattoo artist, and they'll be able to go through the possibilities. But, first, heal the burn.
posted by box at 8:09 PM on August 19, 2009

sorry to hear about the burn (ouchy!), but i'm thinking the scarring might actually make the tattoo ... cooler somehow? like a badge of honor? so definitely take care of it as already recommended, but wait to see the outcome to see if it's possible to incorporate the scarring into the existing design, or if the scarring takes it in a whole new direction.
posted by msconduct at 7:03 AM on August 20, 2009

I took the bandage off today and discovered how resilient a tattoo can be. I was pretty sure that I had annihilated it, but aside from being just slightly blurred and faded, it looks surprisingly good! The skin is still really pink and fresh looking, so maybe once it's fully healed it'll look even better!
I really can't believe it and I was prepared for the worst, especially considering how much it smelled like bacon when I burned myself.
Thanks everyone, for your advice, and I'll keep your first aid tips in mind when I, inevitably, scorch the crap out of myself again in the near future.
posted by Jon-o at 7:05 PM on August 26, 2009

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