Can I Give Blood After Getting a Tattoo?

Mary McMahon

The short answer to this question is yes, you can give blood after getting a tattoo. There are a few caveats which are important to know about, however, and you may want to be aware that many blood banks reserve the right to refuse donations even if donors are technically eligible to give, based on the interview performed before blood donation takes place. Although it can be disappointing to be told that you cannot give blood, this is done to protect the safety of the blood supply, and you can always return later to offer blood, because blood and plasma are always needed.

Newly tattooed individuals may need to wait between 6 to 12 months to give blood.
Newly tattooed individuals may need to wait between 6 to 12 months to give blood.

In some regions of the world, tattoo artists and their facilities are closely regulated, and subject to mandatory inspections by health department personnel. In these areas, you can give blood after getting a tattoo right away, without a waiting period, although you should still disclose the fact that you have a new tattoo to blood bank staff. If you aren't sure about whether or not tattoo facilities in your area are subject to such regulation, contact your health department for more information, or call your blood bank and ask specifically how long they want you to wait before giving blood.

It is generally safe to give blood after getting a tattoo.
It is generally safe to give blood after getting a tattoo.

In areas where tattooing is not as closely monitored, people are asked to wait for 12 months to give blood after getting a tattoo. This waiting period ensures that the donor is free of any potential blood-borne diseases which could have been passed on unsanitary equipment. The vast majority of tattoo artists and studios take your safety (and theirs) very seriously, and even without regulation, they typically autoclave all tools, use fresh sterile needles for tattooing, and observe other safety precautions. Since they are largely self-regulated, however, blood banks like to be on the safe side.

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If people are pierced in a thoroughly inspected shop, they can give blood right away.
If people are pierced in a thoroughly inspected shop, they can give blood right away.

If you are very committed to giving blood on a regular basis and you also enjoy getting body art, you may want to make a habit of giving blood shortly before you receive new tattoos, and scheduling sessions for big projects close together, so that you can start the clock on your waiting period as early as possible. You may also find that some blood banks are more friendly to tattooed people than others; staff who are not familiar with the infection control procedures used in tattoo shops may reject you out of fear, while staff who have been informed about the safety of modern tattooing may be more than happy to take your blood.

A blood donation station.
A blood donation station.

When you give blood after getting a tattoo, you may want to wait at least a week, even if you are allowed to give blood right away, as tattoos often cause low-level inflammation. Giving your body a chance to recover will ensure that your blood passes the screening procedures used to test donations. Blood banks also ask that donors not use them as screening facilities for STDs and blood-borne diseases; many public health facilities offer such screening tests for free, without compromising the safety of the blood supply.

One empty and one full pint-sized blood bag.
One empty and one full pint-sized blood bag.

The same holds true for new piercings, incidentally. If you are pierced in a thoroughly inspected shop, you can give blood right away. If the conditions are at all questionable, however, you will likely be asked to wait 12 months.

Red blood cells.
Red blood cells.

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Discussion Comments


I donate quarterly, and once asked the phlebotomist why the tattoo question was included among all the crack-whore questions they ask you ("Within the last 12 months, have you taken drugs or money for sex?" "Gosh, well, now that you mention it..."). He told me that, if I had been tattooed at a licensed parlor in the state where I reside, it would not be an issue. If it had been in another state, I would have to wait a year.


@anon96046: Seriously, go away. you probably have only ever seen nasty tattoo parlors. If you would ever stop being so close-minded and visit reputable tattoo shops, then you would notice that they aren't all trashy and gross. The place I go for mine, I actually would eat there. So broaden your horizons about tattoo shops before you cut down one of the most popular forms of modern expression.

As for the topic at hand, I wish there were some way that I could go in to donate blood even after getting a tattoo recently and have them do a quick blood test to check for these infections or possible threats so that I could give blood more often while still working on my tattoos.


Tattooing is a needle pricking the skin thousands of times inserting ink into the cells beneath the surface. Most hospitals refuse to take blood from someone with a tattoo under a year old because of the possibility of harboring infection/bacteria in the blood of a healthy person potentially causing more drama for the person receiving the blood who's immune system is compromised.

Your ability to fight off infection is likely better than the person in trauma, receiving the blood, so because you are fine, does not mean that person will be fine also. Not all blood banks refuse to take your blood after a tattoo. If refused, ask for information as to why you were refused. Most provide information on why they have adopted certain regulations.


@anon96046- Tattooing should not be looked down on. If you know who is tattooing you, it wouldn't be a problem. Especially if they have a well maintained working environment. Unfortunately, it's people like you that bring down our world as well as many generations through your hatred.


I would suggest that a person who just recently got a tattoo consult someone to check their brain to see what is faulty in their thought process! Why in the world would anyone in their right mind trust one of those tattoo establishments, when most of us wouldn't even eat in such a dump. We are truly dumbing down!


@klore - I would imagine some blood banks would be hesitant to do this because of the relative lack of regulation as far as tattoos are concerned. While many tattoo parlors are heavily regulated, some just aren't or are willing to take shortcuts. After all, an improperly cleaned tattoo needle could transmit any number of dangerous blood-related diseases. It's probably best to just wait a while after getting a tattoo before attempting to donate blood, at least until the initial swelling and inflammation subside.


Why would a blood bank refuse a blood donor that had recently gotten a tattoo?

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