What you need to know about tattooing the Soles of your Feet or Palms of your Hands

You have three layers of skin, the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. The ink of a tattoo sits in the middle dermis layer once healed. This layer is below the epidermis, which is the bit that ‘sheds’, which is why your tattoo never wears off. The skin on your palms and soles have a lot more of these cellular layers which means faster shedding of the epidermis layer, much quicker than anywhere else on the rest of your body.

Elsewhere on your body the epidermis layer is of a fairly consistent depth, making it possible for the experienced tattoo artist to accurately judge the depth the ink needs to go to in order to hit the dermis layer. This is not the case however with the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. The epidermis layer is thicker here than elsewhere, and also varies hugely in depth across its surface. The result is that it is almost impossible to get the ink into the dermis layer reliably. The ink that doesn’t go deep enough will eventually ‘shed’ from the epidermis layer (often mistaken for the tattoo wearing off), which will mean that your tattoo is likely to require frequent retouching every few months. However if the ink goes too deep, through to the hypodermis, it causes what is known as ‘blow-out’, where the ink spreads through the capillaries under the skin in a blotting paper type effect.

Tattoos are going to be more painful in less padded areas of your body, which is often where the skin is more sensitive.   The palms of your hands and soles of your feet have almost no padding, and are one of the more sensitive areas on your body. Due to the amount of nerves you also have in your feet, if you find a tattooist who is prepared to tattoo the soles of your feet, keeping still throughout the process is going to be particularly difficult as it is one of the most painful places to be tattooed.

Healing a sole of foot tattoo is also problematic; as your tattoo goes through the healing process it will develop a scab, which is a protective layer made up of blood exposed to air, formed by platelets. If any of the scab is rubbed or picked off before the skin underneath has fully healed you stand a good chance of not only loosing an area of colour but also of any line work. Ideally you would need to be bare foot throughout the whole healing process.   Which in itself raises further healing issues with respect of keeping the area clean. You need also to be prepared for localised swelling too, which you will need to take into account and be prepared for.

While healing palms of hands is slightly easier, you would have to avoid soaking your hands and also ensure that they are kept clean. Because of day-to-day activities hands are more likely to pick up unwanted bacteria, which could potentially lead to infection.

In conclusion this is why it is next to impossible to get a good tattoo on the palms of your hands or soles of your feet, which is why most studios will avoid it altogether.

Summertime Skin

With the summer months finally here, we will all be spending more time outside, and exposing more skin. If you are considering getting a tattoo, having a tattoo removed or a piercing you need to take steps to protect your skin.

 Sunburn is caused by over exposure to the invisible UBV rays from the sun or sunbed, which have penetrated your skin’s layers and caused damage your skins cells.   The redness associated with sunburn is caused by extra blood in the capillaries, because your immune system has had to spring into action by increasing the blood flow to the affected areas to aid healing. By opening up the capillary walls to allow the white blood cells to come in and remove the damaged cells. It is this increased blood flow makes your skin feel warm and look red.The peeling that you experience after sunburn is your body’s way of removing those damaged cells. Sunburn should actually be considered an injury to the skin, and as a burn will therefore be painful which will make any treatment sensitive.

Remember that UV rays from the sun aren’t warm so you cannot feel them, which is the reason that you can get sunburn on a cool or cloudy day. Sunburn is very different from burning yourself on a hot object, which does not cause any DNA or long-term damage to your cells.

Differing to what some people believe tanning beds are just as detrimental to your tattoos as the sun. Arguably more so because the ultraviolet rays are more concentrated.

Tattooing

Tattooing sunburnt skin is therefore not advisable because of the amount of blood that is in the capillaries; tattooing the sun damaged area will mean that you are more likely to bleed whilst being tattooed. The effect would be similar if you were to tattoo the same area the following day. But could result in scarring.

Overexposure to the sun is harmful to your skin, which also obviously means that it is not good news for your tattoo either. The ultraviolet light will quickly dull the vibrancy of the inks colours. Meaning that the more you exposure your tattoo to the sun, the more they are going to fade.

Summertime is by far the most popular time for people to get tattoos because they can show them off more which means there are a lot of fresh and healing tattoos being overexposed to the sun every year. Avoid using sunblock on a new tattoo, but do continue with the tattoo aftercare instructions that were given to you, and wherever possible avoid exposing it to the sun. Once it’s completely healed, which means that it has gone through the entire scabbing and flaking process, apply sunscreen to your tattoo thoroughly for the rest of your life.

Tattoo Removal

During Tattoo removal the laser can ablate or destroy the top layers of your skin. The newly healed skin can also be photosensitive, meaning it can easily be damaged by sun exposure.

The sun intensifies the body’s tendency to darken (hyperpigment) any part of the skin that is healing. Which means that the darker your skins natural skin tone, the more likely this is to happen. The best solution is to ideally keep the freshly lasered area covered for several weeks or to use a high factor sunscreen (50+).

Hyperpigmentation after laser treatment is unfortunately not always avoidable but it is fortunately temporary and will fade away with time for the majority.

Piercings

Sunburn is an injury that your body has to heal around your piercing, which could result in scarring or other damage to your skin surrounding your new or healing piercing. It is advisable to avoid sun screen, after sun or moisturizer around the piercing site while it is healing.

Even if your piercing is healed, sunburn will not do your piercing any good. 

If your piercing isn’t healed, public water should be avoided altogether as

Swimming pools, hot tubs etc. can carry many different types of germs and bacteria. Moisture, especially in warm temperatures, becomes a prime breeding ground for bacteria, and thus infection. It goes without saying that this is the same advice for a fresh or healing tattoo, or after laser removal.

If you do have sunburn, you will need any burned skin to have peeled off and for the new skin growth to be at least three weeks old before getting your new tattoo, piercing or tattoo removed from that area.