Donating blood is a life-saving activity. As a matter of fact, one donation can save up to 3 lives. There are many circumstances where someone may not be allowed to give blood. Some of those circumstances include sickness, weight, travel history, or even drug use. 

However, there are myths about blood donation floating around that may hinder people from donating. One myth is that you can’t donate blood if you smoke weed. That’s not true. It’s also commonly believed that having tattoos disqualify you from giving blood. 

Well, there may be a little truth to that. So can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? Here’s what we know.

Photo: Unsplash

Can You Donate Blood if You Have a Tattoo? 

Yes, you can! 

According to UC Health, if your tattoo was done at a state-regulated tattoo parlor, then you can donate blood immediately after getting a tattoo. A state-regulated entity has to use sterile needles as well as fresh ink for each client. 

However, not all states regulate their tattoo parlors. UC Health says the following states do not regulate tattoo parlors:

  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Idaho 
  • Georgia
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • New York 
  • Pennsylvania

Healthline also added Arizona to this list. 

If you get tattooed in any of these states, you’ll have to wait before you donate blood. The concern is that you may have picked up a virus or another pathogen from these unregulated tattoo shops. 

If sufficient time has passed, the blood bank would be able to pick up any pathogen you may have gotten from being tattooed.

To protect yourself, make sure you get tattooed at a reputable tattoo parlor. Your tattoo artist should be professional and certified. In addition to that, the tattoo shop should be clean and follow strict hygienic practices. Following these tips can help you avoid contracting pathogens and your tattoo has a greater chance of healing properly. 

How Long After a Tattoo Can You Donate Blood? 

It depends. 

In the past, people who are freshly inked have been told to wait a year. 

However, things have changed. If you get tattooed at a state-regulated tattoo shop, then you can donate blood immediately. 

Otherwise, you should wait three months. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that blood shouldn’t be donated within three months of getting a new tattoo. 

The FDA clarifies that if you were tattooed by a state-regulated entity with sterile needles and non-reused ink then you won’t need to be deferred for three months. You’ll be able to donate blood as soon as possible. 

The reason behind the deferral is to reduce the transmission of certain viruses. Healthline, notes that bloodborne viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV may be transmitted from tattooing. While it’s rare, there is still a chance that there could be transmission of these pathogens in the blood. 

Healthline says that by the three-month mark, there will be antibodies present in your blood if you contracted any bloodborne diseases.  

Can You Donate Blood After a Piercing? 

Many people don’t know that you may not be eligible to give blood after a piercing. 

According to the FDA, if you’ve done an ear or body piercing you may have to be deferred for three months. The deferment is for people who have been pierced with reusable equipment like a gun or a needle.

 If you’re not sure if the equipment used was single-use or not, then it’s best to wait three months before you give blood. 

The deferment is due to the fact that you can contract pathogens through the piercing. Even though it’s uncommon, you can contract Hepatitis B and C as well as HIV. 

However, not everyone who has a recent piercing may be deferred. 

The FDA says that if your piercer used single-use equipment then you won’t have to wait 3 months. 

In addition to that, if your piercing is done in a state-regulated facility, Healthline says that you won’t have to wait three months either. 

Blood Donation Tips

Now that you know how to long to wait after a tattoo or a piercing, it’s time to prep for your blood donation.

Before You Donate

The American Red Cross suggests that if you’re ready to donate blood, you should:

  • Set a suitable appointment. You can find a suitable blood drive here.
  • Eat a diet filled with iron-rich foods such as red meat, poultry, spinach, and beans. 
  • Avoid aspirin for two days if you’re planning to donate platelets.
  • Get a good night’s sleep, drink a lot of liquid and eat a healthy meal the night before. 

On the Day of Donation

On the day of donation, the American Red Cross says you should:

  • Complete your RapidPass.
  • Walk with your donor card, driver’s license, or two other forms of identification.
  • Have a list of all the medications you’re taking.
  • Avoid fatty foods, opt for healthier options. 

After You Donate

Congratulations! You’ve just donated blood that could save a life. The American Red Cross says you should:

  • Relax and have a snack like a cookie. 
  • Avoid heavy lifting for the rest of the day.
  • Take a break from vigorous exercise that day. 
  • Drink four glasses or extra liquid and avoid alcohol. 

Conclusion 

Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? Absolutely. However, depending on where you get tattooed, you may have to wait a period of three months before donating your blood. Once you’ve been cleared to donate blood, set your appointment, encourage others to do it, and feel good that you may have just saved someone else’s life.

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