THE HUMAN CANVAS:

A GUIDE TO WOUND HEALING, SKIN CARE AND HYGIENE

Tattooing is an 'invasive procedure' - a procedure that involves entry into tissues after which bleeding occurs. In the medical profession wounds, their healing properties and complications due to diseases and medications is a specialised area. Wound healing can be broken down into four stages. 

 
 

Haemostasis or Coagulation 

The human body runs on a feedback system. If the body is being attacked by bacteria, is dehydrated or isn't working as well as it should, the specific body part involved sends a message to the brain. The brain then activates the necessary defences to address the issue. It's the same when you start to bleed, that area will send a message to the brain to undertake changes in the blood to prevent further blood loss and seal the damaged blood vessels. 

The blood vessels constrict to prevent further blood loss. The platelets in the blood secrete the substances required to undertake this important step. The main function of the platelets is to plug up the damaged blood vessels; platelets also secrete other chemicals that initiate subsequent healing steps. This is the phase were the bleeding stops and will happen within minutes of the initial injury. 

NOTE: Blood thinning medications (e.g aspirin, warfarin) fish oil and certain herbs and foods (e.g. garlic, tumeric, cayenne) could prevent the platelets from sticking together. This is why you may bleed longer than usual. 


inflammatory phase

This phase is probably the least fun part of tattoo healing. For the next one to five days there will be inflammation, redness, warmth and pain. This does not indicate an infection is present unless there's an increase in redness, pus present, tremors and sweats. The skin is repairing itself from the bombardment of needles, ink and skin penetration.

The inflammatory response causes the blood vessels to leak into surrounding tissues. This fluid is plasma and neutrophils. Neutrophils clean up the garbage from the tissue (bacteria, micro-organisms and foreign matter) As the neutrophils consume the garbage they die off.  It is a continual cycle until the tissue itself is clean and navigating its way to the next phase. If the tissue becomes infected from bacteria or a foreign body (it could be a piece of lint or something unseen by the eye), the inflammatory phase will continue until the infection has been eliminated or the foreign body removed. 


proliferative phase

The proliferative phase starts approximately four days after the initial wound.  In tattooing the wound is classified as an acute wound - a wound that happens quickly as opposed to over a period of time. It will heal within a predictable timeframe with no complications. Blood vessels begin to form new vessels and the tissue begins to produce granulation tissue and undertake wound contracture. A new network of blood vessels must be constructed so that the granulation tissue can be healthy and receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients. The epidermis also begins to reform and the tattoo begins to scab and itch. This stage is where your tattoo requires some type of moisture and my recommendation is coconut oil. The more natural the product, the better. 

REMODELLING PHASE

This is the final stage of wound healing and occurs once the wound has closed. This phase involves remodelling of collagen from type III to type I. Once the basic structures of the skin have been laid down by the proliferative phase, the collagen re-aligns and produces tensile strength in the wounded area. The skin may be (ever so slightly) weaker or more sensitive during this time. This phase can actually take up to two years to complete. 

 

health issues TO BE AWARE OF 

DIABETES

Diabetes type 1 and 2 are defects with the body responding to the hormone insulin. Long term uncontrolled high blood sugars lead to damage in the retina, neurological damage, damages to the blood vessels and heart, nerve damage, damage to feet and legs and finally, poor wound healing and prone to infection. Tattoos on a diabetic will require extra care and attention. If you have a history of very high blood sugars, it may be advisable to think carefully about tattoos from the waist down to reduce risks. 

OTHER HEALTH ISSUES

Any disease that requires anti inflammatory, non steroidal medication and corticosteroids,