Things to know before getting a tattoo on your hand of foot

Hand & Foot Tattoos

The popularity of hand and foot tattoos are on the rise. Perhaps due to celebrities getting them and showing them off or possibly just because of the way they look, more and more people are looking into getting tattoos on their hands or feet. There are certain things you should be aware of before making the commitment to a piece in these locations.

First of all, is the most common question asked in tattoo shops around the world; does it hurt? In regards to foot tattoos, the answer is yes. In reality the answer is yes to all tattoos but the foot is more intense. Generally, a tattoo tends to hurt more on areas where there is less padding provided by muscle, bringing the bones and tendons closer to the surface. This causes the vibrations of the tattoo machine to resonate though those parts making the sensations more intense.


Next is the commitment to healing that you will need to make. The skin regenerates faster on your feet causing potential issues with ink rejecting during the healing process as well as premature spreading in the lines. It is best to heal your foot by keeping it uncovered. Shoes that do not touch the top of your foot such as sandals, flip-flops and ballet flats are the best. Unfortunately, this is not an option for everybody.

Hand & Foot TattoosSome of us have to cover our entire foot for work, be it in an office, medical facility or other environment that uncovered feet are not acceptable. Not to mention, there aren’t many guys I want to see in ballet flats. There is a method to healing a tattoo while having to wear shoes but it is not ideal nor is it practical for most people. It involves washing your tattoo immediately before going to work and applying a small amount of aftercare cream. Then you will need to tape a new piece of a breathable plastic wrap such as Glad® brand plastic wrap over your tattoo and gently put on your shoes and socks, tying the laces a bit looser than normal. You will need to repeat this procedure every three hours or so, including rewashing the tattoo and using a new piece of plastic wrap. Once your work day is over, wash the tattoo, apply your aftercare and wear open shoes for the remainder of your day.

There is always the chance of infection when you make an opening in your skin such as a cut, scrape or puncture. A tattoo is essentially a scrape. It may not look like an open wound, but it is and should be treated as such. Foot tattoos may have a greater chance of infection due to the proximity with the ground and diligent care should be taken to protect your tattoo from becoming excessively dirty and to wash it multiple times a day to keep it clean. Do not soak it though, so the pedicures will have to be on hold until your tattoo is healed. Go get it done the day before you tattoo appointment. Swelling is also an issue. Many people are surprised by the amount a tattoo can swell, especially in an area like a foot. Elevation for the first few days can help along with use of anti-inflammatory OTCs such as ibuprofen. Just follow the instructions on that packaging.

Hand & Foot TattoosThere is also an issue with the ink spreading in the tattoo during and after healing. All tattoos spread with time. Foot tattoos can spread faster than other areas. Generally, it is best to keep the tattoo to the top of the foot as this holds the ink best. The closer you get to the sole of your foot, the more the lines will spread. Tattoos on the toes can also have ink loss from the flexing of the skin.

Hand tattoos are similar to foot tattoos in that they tend be more sensitive, more likely to lose ink during healing and more prone to infection. In addition to these factors, there is one other issue that needs to taken into account prior to getting that bad ass hand tattoo; prejudice. There is still a large portion of our society that looks down on hand tattoos. Many employers will not even consider a potential employee if they have tattoos that are not easily covered. If there is any doubt whether your job will allow it, ask. Also make sure that you are in a career which will allow it. It is one thing to have a job flipping burgers with a hand tattoo but if you aspire to more, think long and hard on it. While they are more common in more blue-collar jobs, most people would not want to see a hand tattoo on their surgeon, attorney or clergyman. If your future plans include a mainstream upscale career, they probably won’t include a hand tattoo.

Like the foot, you will need to keep your hands clean and apply the aftercare cream as instructed by your tattooer. If your job includes wearing gloves, you will likely have to wrap your fresh tattoo per the above instructions, unwrapping it at each glove change and re-wrapping it when you need to glove up again. Yep, it may be a pain in the neck, but having a poorly healed hand tattoo is worse.

Don’t be surprised if you need to get your hand or foot tattoo touched up after it heals. It is normal with the chances increasing the farther down the sides you go. Areas such as the heel of your hand, the palm and the sides of fingers can be very difficult to get ink to stay, if at all. There as techniques that an experienced tattooer can use to increase the chances of the ink staying in these areas. It can take longer to do the tattoo and it may be more intense but it can reduce the amount of touch up needed.

Thanks for taking the time to read this information and I hope it will help you prepare for your next tattoo. I hope to see you soon.