Blood donation

Can You Donate Blood if You Have Tattoos?

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: September 5, 2023
Can You Donate Blood if You Have Tattoos?

Donating blood is not an entirely selfless act. If we ourselves don't require a blood transfusion at some point in our lives, someone close to us surely will. Without any risk to our own health, blood donors help save the lives of thousands of people per day. Since blood scarcity is a problem, volunteers work hard with blood drives to encourage donations. However, it is true that not everyone is eligible to be a blood donor. There are factors which can disqualify a person as a blood donor, but there is also a lot of misinformation about who can and cannot donate blood.

One such myth concerns whether people with tattoos are able to be blood donors. At oneHOWTO, we ask can you donate blood if you have tattoos? In answering the question, we also help to know who is eligible and encourage donating blood.

  1. Can I donate blood with tattoos?
  2. How long to wait to donate blood after getting a tattoo
  3. Reasons you can't donate blood

Can I donate blood with tattoos?

Despite certain rumors about tattoos and blood donation, you can donate blood if you have tattoos. Having tattoos is not a reason to disqualify you for blood donation. This accounts for both specific emergency interventions or for donating blood to a blood bank.

The basis for the controversy over tattoos appears to stem from the fact that unhygienic conditions when getting a tattoo or piercing can lead to infection. If the needle is not sterile or the ink used has been contaminated, it can lead to human-to-human infections and other problems. However, if the conditions are sanitary (and the vast majority of tattoo studios are), there should be no impediment. After getting the tattoo, the person will be just as healthy as they were before.

There are some considerations we need to make if we are donating blood, regardless if we have a tattoo. We explain what they are in further detail below.

How long to wait to donate blood after getting a tattoo

Although having a tattoo doesn't automatically disqualify you from donating blood, there may be some restrictions. Guidelines in some countries state that there is a time period one needs to wait between having a tattoo and donating blood. The amount of time will depend on both the country and region. In the United States, some individual states require a 3 month period, whereas others do not have a waiting period at all. In certain countries the waiting period can be as much as a year.

The purpose of the waiting period after getting a tattoo is important in terms of the health and quality of a donor's blood. The reason for this is because it is from the 4 month mark that many diseases can be transmitted if blood has been contaminated. Certain diseases are undetectable immediately after having the tattoo inked.

For this reason, it is important for the tattoo not only to heal, but for the person to ensure there has been no infection in the interim period. While this might seem unfair to those who have a tattoo, the same rules apply to persons with other wounds on their body. Only after a certain time has elapsed can we confirm there is no blood-borne infectious disease.

Infections don't have to occur when the tattoo is performed. Tattoo aftercare is important for ensuring the lasting quality of the tattoo and for preventing infections occurring at the tattoo site. Even if it is performed completely hygienically, bacteria and other infections can enter if the healing tattoo is exposed. You always have to follow the guidelines indicated by the tattoo artist regarding healing of a tattoo. For some general information on what you need to do and avoid, take a look at our article on how to care for a new tattoo.

Reasons you can't donate blood

As we stated above, having tattoos is does not make you ineligible to give blood. As long as we have waited the required time period, there shouldn't be a problem. However, there are reasons why someone needs to be excluded from giving blood. The reasons are to maintain safety and ensure the blood is useful. For this reason, we share some of the reasons why donating blood is not allowed:

  • Having a chronic or serious disease: HIV, Insulin-dependent Diabetes, Hepatitis (B or C) or epilepsy are some of the diseases that are not accepted to be a donor since they can be transmitted through blood transfusion.
  • Have an underlying infection: if at the time you want to donate blood you have some type of infection in your body, health workers will not be able to extract your blood until the infection has been resolved. Such infections include gastroenteritis, pharyngitis, otitis, etc.
  • Sexual factors: if in the last four months you have had any type of sexual relationship without having used protection, you will be denied as a donor since your state of health could not be guaranteed against a possible contagion. In some countries, sexual orientation and even profession can have a bearing on your ability to donate blood.
  • Travel to at-risk countries: if you have recently traveled to countries considered ‘at risk’ due to the existence of diseases not treated in your country, you will not be able to be a donor until a reasonable time has passed to determine your health status. These diseases can include yellow fever, malaria or Ebola.
  • Medications: you will not be able to be a donor if you are currently consuming certain types of medications as they can alter the composition of your blood. These medically can include antibiotics, acne treatments or hormone therapies.

If you are considering donating blood, we encourage you to do so. While not everyone will be eligible, many of us are and there are certain blood types which are needed more than others. Speak to your physician about options available or search for your nearest blood bank.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Can You Donate Blood if You Have Tattoos?, we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

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Can You Donate Blood if You Have Tattoos?