Epilepsy and Tattoos – National Epilepsy Training

Many people with epilepsy will also fall into the growing number of people worldwide who want to get a tattoo. Quite rightly so, a common question for people with epilepsy before getting a tattoo is whether it’s safe to do so. 

Of course, this is an entirely personal choice and one that should be made carefully, regardless of whether you have epilepsy or not. In this post, we are simply going to discuss whether it is safe to do so for people with epilepsy who have already made that personal decision that they want to. 

Can being tattooed trigger a seizure? 

There is currently no evidence to suggest that having a tattoo can trigger a seizure. However, this doesn’t mean that it is 100% safe to do so. Many people with epilepsy have had tattoos, some even choose to have a medical alert tattoo that identifies their epilepsy in place of wearables such as a bracelet or necklace. 

Seizure triggers are often unique to the person, and although the act of having a tattoo done is unlikely to cause a seizure in itself, it’s possible that other factors could heighten the chances of having a seizure whilst being tattooed. For example, some people have reported that excessive stress or pain is a trigger for them, both of these can be commonly experienced whilst being tattooed. If you know yourself to be triggered by either of these things, having a tattoo would not be advisable. 

Medication considerations of getting a tattoo

Although anti-seizure medications are not thought to have an effect during tattooing, there are other medications that would make it ill advised to get a tattoo. Many people with epilepsy are also taking other medications unrelated to the epilepsy. Examples of medications that can mean a negative reaction to tattooing include: 

  • Acne medications (e.g. Accutane)
  • Antibiotics 
  • Blood thinners (e.g. Warfarin)

It’s also not advisable to get a tattoo if you’re considered immunocompromised or if you have a chronic skin condition. It’s also worth noting that pregnant people should not get tattoos under any circumstances. 

Advice for getting a tattoo with epilepsy

If you have read the above information and you still want to get a tattoo, we must stress that the first thing to do will be to discuss this with your neurologist or a similar healthcare professional who’s part of your care team. They will be able to advise you in the best way based on your individual needs and circumstances. 

If you have got the go ahead from a qualified healthcare professional, then we would also advise that you let the tattoo parlour and artist know about your epilepsy ahead of time. Ensure they know how to best care for you in the event that you do have a seizure whilst in the chair. If possible, ask someone you know to come with you who is able to care for you if required and recognise any signs that you may have a seizure. 

Finally, ensure you choose a reputable tattoo artist who has great credentials and a clean studio. The risk of infections, including HIV and Hepatitis B, can be high when the proper precautions and after care are not considered. A good tattoo artist will make sure each of these are considered carefully.

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