Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? Let’s be clear. Blood donation consists of taking a certain volume of blood from a healthy person, called the donor, and then being able to transfer it to another person, called the recipient, who needs blood or one of its components. Blood donation is a voluntary act, a gesture of small effort but of great solidarity. Donor blood is in fact an invaluable resource from a therapeutic point of view, as many surgical operations and many diseases require large blood transfusions. Before being able to donate blood, an individual must pass a series of checks and tests in order to assess the suitability of his state of health and the absence of any danger to the recipient. Blood donation is a safe, simple and almost completely side-effect-free procedure. Blood, which is donated, is collected as such or, more often, separated into its main components. Blood cannot be produced in the laboratory and its shortage is an emergency for many hospitals, which find themselves with an ever-increasing number of patients in need of transfusion.
If you have decided to donate blood, you are about to make a gesture of solidarity that could save several lives. Now let’s see if can you donate blood if you have a tattoo. In fact, not everyone can donate blood, because diseases and infections can be transmitted through blood. Some people cannot do this because they have particular diseases or are at risk, both for their health and for the health of the recipient. If you have a tattoo and you are thinking of donating blood, probably someone will have told you that you cannot do it. And then you must have asked yourself: Is it true? Why can’t people with tattoos donate blood? In fact, it is not certain that those who have tattoos no longer have the chance to donate blood. Under certain conditions,is possible to donate blood. In this article I will try to explain to you what are the limits to blood donation for those who have tattoos and why they were expected. Finally, I will explain when it is possible to overcome them in order to donate blood safely.
Who can donate blood?
Blood donation is a gesture of solidarity, but it involves risks not only for those who donate. Through blood the risk of infection and disease for the person receiving the blood is much high. That is why, to avoid such risks, donation is only allowed to persons who meet the eligibility requirements of the Ministry of Health, including :
age between 18 and 60 years;
weight not less than 50 kg;
Healthy lifestyle, i.e. absence of behavior that endangers the health of the donor or recipient. To become a donor, you undergo a clinical evaluation by a doctor and laboratory tests (for example, blood tests) to verify the state of health and the absence of risks arising from an unhealthy lifestyle. In some cases, medical evaluation or laboratory tests may lead to:
permanent exclusion from donation for situations where the risk does not diminish over time. This is the case for persistent diseases (such as hepatitis C, hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis) or high-risk behavior (chronic alcoholism, promiscuous sexual behavior); temporary exclusion from donation for situations where the risk tends to decrease with time. This is the case of infection with certain infectious diseases (such as mononucleosis, influenza and tropical diseases), pregnancy, vaccinations, taking medication or serious allergies. You will be wondering whether having had a tattoo falls under such cases and, if so, whether it is a reason for permanent or temporary exclusion from the donation.
Having done a tattoo falls into the second category of exclusions; it is not possible to donate blood for a period of four months after the tattoo has been done. In some centers, donation is permitted even before four months, but on condition that the potential donor presents a certificate issued by the tattoo artist certifying the use of sterile instruments and compliance with health and hygiene regulations. After four months since the tattoo was made, the blood can be donated without any risk for the recipient. It will be sufficient to present the certificate issued by the center where you did a tattoo or present a self-certification indicating the date on which you tattooed.
Why can’t people with tattoos donate blood?
The reasons why people who has tattoos cannot donate blood for a certain period of time are that their blood may have been infected during tattooing. You must consider, in fact, that the skin and mucous membranes are the first barrier to protect our body against external aggression by viruses and bacteria. When you do a tattoo, the skin is pierced through a small needle (as it happens with piercings). If the needle is not sterilized, some diseases can be transmitted during tattooing, including:
These are viral infections that, through the needle used for the tattoo, can lead to blood contamination. During the interview with the doctor, it is not possible to ascertain with certainty that the tattoo artist has carried out his work in compliance with all hygiene and health regulations to ensure that the tattoo has been done safely. There are, in fact, no clinical examinations that can immediately verify the presence of the contagion, but it is always necessary to wait for the reactions of the infection that may occur even after some time. For this reason, to be sure that these reactions do not occur after the donation and that, therefore, the blood donated is infected, it is preferable to wait for a period of “safety”, after which it will be possible to donate blood without problems. To prevent contaminated blood from being used for patients in need of transfusion, tattooed individuals cannot donate blood for a period of four months.
Who cannot donate blood
They will never be able to become blood donors those who:
They take drugs.
They are alcoholics.
Have sex at high risk of transmission of infectious diseases (e.g. occasional, promiscuous etc.).
They suffer chronically from hepatitis or jaundice.
They have venereal disease.
They tested positive for syphilis.
Positive results for the AIDS test (HIV) were obtained.
They tested positive for hepatitis C (anti-HCV).
They tested positive for hepatitis B (HBsAg).
They’ve had sex with people with any of the previous conditions.
When need to stop donor activity
In some cases, for the sake of those in need of blood transfusions, it is necessary to temporarily suspend from the activity of donor. For example, temporary self-suspension should be considered if in the last four months, you have undergone cosmetic operations, such as tattoos, piercings, earrings, if in the days before or on the day of the donation, you suffer from a cold or another similar viral infection (eg, a flu), if you are taking antibiotics, etc.. In light of this, it is quite clear that donating blood is not only an act of generosity, but also requires a sense of responsibility and wisdom. Below is a list of the most common situations that require temporary self-suspension:
When you have recently undergone serious surgery. When you have undergone Dental surgery. In these cases, the self-suspension varies according to the type of operation: it can be of only 24 hours, for a simple filling, or of 7 days, for a dental extraction. When you are in contact, for work or family reasons, with individuals suffering from more or less serious infectious diseases. For example, medical and nursing staff in hospitals may have to treat AIDS or hepatitis C patients. Although there are all the necessary protections, it is advisable to wait some time before resuming the donation of blood, and, if necessary, undergo the blood tests again. When, in the twelve months preceding a donation, you have suffered from jaundice or hepatitis A.
When you are pregnant or have recently given birth (the interruption is valid for up to 6 months). When you were undergoing antibiotic therapy on the days leading up to the donation. When, in the 4 months preceding a donation, you have been vaccinated against some infectious disease. When, near or on the day of the donation, you have suffered or are suffering from a cold, sore throat, flu and other infectious diseases of a similar degree. When, as mentioned in the last 4 months, you have undergone cosmetic operations, such as tattoos, piercings and earrings. When you have recently visited (maximum 6 months) a country, where malaria is endemic (ie typical of a particular territory). When you suffer from temporary anemia. Anemia, in fact, is not always a chronic disorder, but it can also be a temporary condition (for example, the anemic state of women with large periods).