It’s the artist’s looming horror. How do you know if it’s an infection? What to do?
Alright, artists. We in the PMU industry are aware of the things that could go wrong in a procedure. We cover this in training and keep them in mind in our practice but we don’t really talk about it, do we? Why is that?
One reason we tend to shy away from talking about microblading fiascos is because we don’t want them to happen. And that’s good! We need to focus on doing everything we can to not get into that situation. However, avoiding these talks only increases the risks for all parties. There is already enough fear around cosmetic tattooing and the only way we can help is to educate both ourselves and the consumers.
Knowing the Difference
Infections due to microblading treatments are rare but could still occur, mostly at the hands of poorly trained artists. And even if you do everything right, an allergic reaction is still possible. It’s tricky because symptoms of both are highly similar. Knowing the key differences between the two will help you determine the best solution.
Allergic Reaction: What Does It Look Like and What Causes It?
An allergic reaction is usually characterized by redness and swelling in the brow area. The client may notice more than the normal puffiness along the brow bone. To some, it could look like a mini burn and others reported that it “expels” the ink, making the brows appear like they were before the treatment.
This is often due to having allergy to nickel found in the pigments. They might also be allergic to any of the tools you are using. The reaction might also be because of the client’s activities such as using a triple-antibiotic cream like Neosporin —which is strictly not advised, or shaving, tweezing, and using cosmetic products before the brows are fully healed.
If your client experiences these symptoms, it’s important to rule out causes that are due to improper aftercare. If it’s truly an allergic reaction, the best thing to do is to advise them to consult their physician ASAP.
An allergic reaction is less problematic because it is not due to unsanitary practices or artist’s mistake. But it’s still important to discuss it thoroughly with your clients prior to their treatment.
Infections: What to Watch Out For
The above symptoms of allergic reactions would also be present during an infection. The key is to look for these additional symptoms:
They may notice an odor coming from the brow area and a greenish or brownish discharge. If the infection becomes serious, the swelling may extend to the eyelids and the redness to the scalp or neck. These could also be signs of facial cellulitis which is a bacterial infection.
What to Do?
If a client gets an infection, it is most likely due to either: the artist not following sanitation guidelines or impacting an open wound. Remember that tattoo artists are considered high-risk to infectious diseases and so are your clients. This is why BBP (Blood Borne Pathogens) Certification is required.
This is where taking before and after photos could benefit you beyond your portfolio. Look back at the photos and make sure there isn’t an open wound on the treatment area. Go over the client consent form that they signed and the things they disclosed.
Most importantly, go back to your sanitation checklist. It could be the simplest, most trivial things that you’ve missed:
- Did you wash your hands and wear gloves?
- Were your tools sterilized?
- What pre and post care products did you use and are they appropriate to the client’s skin?
- Was the treatment room and equipment, ie treatment bed, lighting, even the floor —clean enough?
While you may recommend topical antibiotics to treat the infection, it must not be taken as professional medical advise. Over the counter solutions such as antibiotic ointment and putting a cold pack in the affected area could help. These are recommendations you can give while they are waiting to speak with their doctor.
One thing is for sure. If this happens, it is in your best interest to take accountability because not doing so will more likely end your career. Mistakes happen and you have better chances of rising above it if you learn from them.
Prevention is the Best Cure
It’s good to be prepared for problems but it’s better to avoid them. This is why choosing the best microblading academy is critical to your success. If a training institution does not put emphasis on these risks, it doesn’t benefit you as an artist.
Make sure that the microblading establishment or training facility that you choose implements strict sanitation procedures and continue teaching these to students and apprentices. Make sure to use only top-of-the-line pre and post-care products. Compare several PMU establishments and you can also see online who is providing the best services and training in whichever state you wish to practice whether it’s in Las Vegas or other places.
You will learn all these as you gain more experience. Here is one way an apprenticeship program can help you with that.