"Don’t let this happen to you"

The person who sent this to me simply warns, “always make sure you know who is tattooing you and never let anyone unqualified touch your body!” I don’t know if this is a reaction to contaminated ink, or a severe reaction to either the inks or another product used during the tattoo process, but this is I think one of the only times I’ve ever seen a tattoo just peel off in one piece like this. Gross! Click through for a closeup shot.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by BMEzine.com LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by BMEzine.com LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

76 thoughts on “"Don’t let this happen to you"

  1. AUCH! I have had this once myself. I have this flower just above my ankle and it got infected, I lost almost half of it. (Just peeled off, just like the one in the picture) It did hurt. I still don’t know what caused it. It needs to be touched up but I am afraid :S.

  2. Please, please someone explain what probably caused it or I’m never getting another tattoo! That’s the most horrible “risk”-type picture I’ve ever seen on Modblog! *runs away crying*

  3. Oh shit.
    Oh shit.

    That seriously made me nauseous.
    I love foot tattoo’s, I have one myself, and the idea of this happening to me…kinda makes me want to projectile vomit, Linda Blair style….

  4. I say good riddance. It looks like it was a shitty tattoo in the first place. Wouldn’t it be great if all shitty tattoos just peeled off like that?


  5. Pseudomonas is the most likely culprit. It’s the bacteria that makes sweaty socks smell the way they do. This occurred either because the skin was inadequately prepped for the tattooing or because of aftercare. I’m sure the artist and the person pictured both blame each other.

    It should never have gotten this far which is clearly the fault of the photographic subject. Mind you, if it’s a first tattoo the person might have thought all the swelling and pain was normal since “feet hurt more to tattoo.” This is going to scar badly, I’m sure. Losing that much skin is a big deal, needless to say and even with grafting it will never look right.

    In fairness, too. And I’m stretching a little here, I look at the shape of the toes, feet and nail color work and wonder if this person isn’t a little older than many, have a couple more pounds and perhaps…here’s the stretch…has a circulation or blood sugar issue. For this, of course, I’d need WAY more data than such a photo provides.

    I’m going to hunker down and prepare for flames.

  6. They probably kept it too wet. Remember wet feels good. With the edema on the foot combined with putting whatever they were putting on it too heavily will cause the skin to break down like that.

  7. I’m completely perplexed as to why anyone would assume nail polish colour gives any indication of age.

  8. That looks like my old ecoli infection.
    When I was much younger (a fresh sixteen – also see: stupid) and had a scratcher work on me, I had a similar issue.
    It was not an allergic reaction rather, it was the fact that when I cleaned it, I didn’t use a soft CLEAN cloth and antibacterial soap.
    My friend’s kidlet was potty training and instead of toilet paper…well, you get it. Not thinking, I used the same wash cloth…
    Luckily, only the Iris petal on my shin and a portion of the leaf peeled away before I figured out what I’d done wrong.
    As soon as I coated it in antibacterial soap and warm water, the rest was salvaged and the peeled area healed quite nicely (sans ink). I’ve since, had it touched up.

    Tattoo by scrather: Free
    Infection due to lack of aftercare information: Painful
    Tattoo salvage = priceless.

  9. Moddoctor, you should have stopped after your second paragraph. You were making sense up until the last paragraph.
    I bet you I could take a picture of my foot and you would not be able to tell anything else about me and be accurate.

    With that said, regardless of who’s fault it was for that mess of a tattoo, I feel really bad for the person wearing it. It looks super painful.

  10. First off, I meant the color job not the color itself but I also said I was venturing into the area of reading more than I could reasonably be accurate about from the pic. There’s something about the whole thing that makes me wonder about blood sugar, though. Even if this person isn’t diabetic with an infection like this I’d be highly suspicious until proven otherwise. This is an object lesson, though, in telemedicine. You can only tell so much from limited data. It’s funny how I do get stomped for what I already qualified as a complete guess versus the part that is the more likely educated conjecture that’s well supported by the pic.

  11. Ick… thats almost put me off wanting my foot tattoo…


    I’ve never seen anyhting like that before – and I’d love to know how the heck it happened. I think that could almost be the poster-shot for a “why not to get tattooed” movement.

    I hope the person whose foot it is has seen a doctor and is getting better. My sympathies to them for having to go through something like this.

  12. I disagree slightly with the age estimate, the skin looks in pretty decent condition in those areas where it’s not hanging off. Not that I’m remotely medically qualified. No callousing or anything behind the small toe either.

    Also look a bit like my ex’s, who’s a couple years younger than me (I’m 23).

    She was diabetic, though.

  13. I just thought it was really scabby.

    And then I took a closer look.

    I don’t know why, but this is seriously the grossest thing I’ve seen on Modblog so far. This is even worse than the ear cheese. Uggh, I just got queasy thinking about it…

  14. It looks like someone just injected paint under their skin! How nasty looking!

    As far as the judging age by a foot – I’m going to disagree. If someone were to look at my feet I’m sure they’d think I was in my 40′s lol and I’m 22.

  15. Just for a positive view point: I could see a beautiful piece of scar work emerging from that with both a little luck and time….

  16. Something like that happened to me on my foot, but it was because I had tape on it and I’m really allergic to tape…all tape. (no I don’t have a tattoo on my foot) but the Doctor gave me some meds and it went away. Now I just have a funny “tan line like” scar

  17. yeah to Ariel and CreativeNonFiction, i would totally freezy dry that shit and keep it in my freezer to scare kids

  18. Peel the rest of it off and frame it cause that’s the only way she’s keeping that tattoo.

  19. Hmm…fungus? My father once had a case of foot fungus that he let get WAY out of control. It looked a lot like that.

  20. something like that happened to a girl i skate with. she had a small tattoo on her back that got really infected like that. nasty green puss and terrible scabs. the tattoo artist told her it was infected bc she wasnt supposed to wash her hair for the 1st seven days after getting tattooed. i told her to put neosporin on it and the infection healed and actually surpizingly the majority of the ink stuck

  21. killswitch, what in the hell does not washing your hair have to do with a tattoo on your back? there are definitely ways to wash your hair without damaging a back tattoo and even if you didn’t, it probably wouldn’t result in an infection that bad. that tattoo artist sounds a wee bit sketchy to me.

  22. My left (tattooed) foot started itching badly when I saw this. O-m-g. How can she have let things get this far??

  23. I really hate seeing that kind of thing when I’ve just gotten fresh ink. China doesn’t have the cleanest water and infection due to that is my main concern at this point!

  24. ouch!
    so many things could have cause (or start) something liek this… tht have all already been said… bad tattooist, bad hygine, bad circulation… my dads diabetic and he has bad circulation in his feet. but i dont think hes planning on getting a foot tattoo.
    but oww!! that much have hurt so much…
    but ariel i also thought when i saw it you could peel it off and keep it lol!
    and Takecare i thought about the unplanned scarification too lol. but ud only get the outline :( lol!
    poor woman though

  25. This has happened to a “customer” of my artist, he said the reason it happened twice to the same girl was because of a reaction with the AD Ointment she self-prescribed and the red ink’s he used..

    both the star and the heart peeled away leaving a little tattoo-shaped scar.

  26. All I can think of is WOW. Seriously. Wow.

    I’ve seen some shitty shitty things happen to tattoos, but that by far takes the cake. The whole damn cake. Maybe even the cake tray too.

    I would totally keep it Ariel, maybe frame it with a plaque that just says “WTF?”

  27. oh dear! dude fucked that girl up.on the plus side, if she peels the rest off it might leave pretty decent scar.

  28. Wow…I agree with the idea that I am now nervous about tattoo work. All the other “risk” pics did not bother me so much. However, since my tattoos are good so far I am not too worried. I wonder if this is her first tattoo or if she has other successfully healed ones.

  29. yeah lol #29 i agree with you, and #57 too. i would soooo frame that, and then put it up on my bedroom wall! could get a nice scar out of that as well :)

  30. I had something similar happen to a tattoo on the inside of my lower arm. It came off in sections along the outline. I had to have it redone and for the most part it looks fine. I guess what happened here was a little more severe.

  31. Umm, now that I am done being nauseous…

    This is going to be my playing Sherlock Holmes to make some wild, wild random guesses. I admit that up front. :-)

    We really have no way of knowing what happened except from the evidence we have, the photos.

    Look at the closeup photo. There is a random stray hair she has allowed to fall right next to the ladybug and there are two small brown dots just above the “M” in modblog that look like something other than scab or ink to me. Are they dirt, maybe? I don’t know, but if I were taking a picture of my peeling off tattoo I would take a moment and say, “hmmm, there’s a hair on my foot, let’s pick it off before I take the picture.” Not doing so implies a certain lack of attention to detail in hygiene, maybe? (Full disclosure: there is a always hair on my foot. I’m like a freaking hobbit, but that’s not the case here. lol)

    This might not actually be a skin flap that came off per se, but a scab. If it is, then it is a scab which is so flexible that it can be folded. Seems like some collossal over-moisturizing to me.

    Also, this client obviously let this go for too long. It looks like the skin swelled and stretched to the point that dead skin is flaking off around the tattoo, and yet, possibly, still no medical treatment. (Please God, don’t let this turn into yet another “should we use a doctor?” thread!)

    Small details, all, but if I had this kind of thing going on, I’d be psycho about maintaining clean conditions around it, would be following the aftercare instructions of not overmoisturizing, and would have sought medical care well before this point.

    As far as the tattooist end of things, I need to be a mindreader. It looks like the artist started off as usual with a liner and black ink, but then continued on with the liner for black shading, and some heavy black shading it is. (Notice how the shading is at a shallower depth and not visible under the flap, but heavy and clearly visible from the top. Also the the linework alone is healing mediocre-okay for ten days or so out.) Why would he do this? To avoid using a seperate setup during the highlighting phase. It’s not too bad cleaning green and yellow ink out of a tube if they are not allowed to dry and you don’t mind a little color contamination, but black ink is out of the question.

    He then switched over to the shader which was set a bit too deep for the delicate skin of the foot, by my guess. Why was it too deep? Dunno,having used a liner to shade, maybe he thought the ink was not taking well. In any case, he laid down his first layer: green on the leaves and magenta on the petals, nearly edge to edge. Then a heavy layer of yellow across all the green and a heavy layer of.. pink?… across the magenta. He may have even run the green and yellow (and presumably the magenta and pink) right across the areas he already shaded in black. Note how the yellow seems solid from one edge of the flap to the other. Possibly, he did not think the green and magenta were taking, because by this point the client would be bleeding like a sieve, so he went heavy on the yellow and pink to fill any holidays. Then cleaning his shader very well, he did the white highlights, again heavier than usual, fearing they would not take. (He very well may have changed his mind about conserving setups and used a whole new one for the white, btw)

    Basically, I think he tried to do the black cheap with fewer total setups. Seeing it wasn’t working, he freaked, and terrified that the client would come back needing a touchup, tried to make the remainder of the piece uberdense, and just wound up overworking the skin.

    The overworked skin increased the chance of infection, and with some poor aftercare, it went on to get infected.

    My bottom line wild guess: if you are looking for someone to blame, don’t bother. Both of them are to blame, plus, possibly the shop owner, if the artist was pressured into using fewer setups and avoiding a touchup.

  32. Oh, and as I reread my post, I realize the biggest, wildest assumption I made, with the least evidence, really.

    That the artist was a man and the client was a woman. lol

  33. Wow, that makes my gross ears seem like nothing(see previous blog from june, re: rosewood/cocobolo infection).

    Poor, poor foot.

  34. This looks really verry BAD men!!
    The tattoo is not beiing take cared off, that,s 4 shore.ppff..
    I have never seen something like this! bbrrh…

  35. that acually happend to me. not from a tattoo though. i kept getting ingrown toe nails. and i was tree planting and my feet were always wet. and after 7 days my foot looked like that. stupid me putting socks on in my sleeping bag and not looking at them

  36. That it is by far the grossest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I am getting both my feet done in a month and even though my artist is amazing, and exceptionally talented, I have butterflies in my stomach now!

    That poor girl, I really hope she is ok. I don’t understand how she let it get that far though! I guess if it was her first tattoo she may have not recognised how bad things are?


  37. Bump I have no clue with hers..But…
    I would know for sure what I was doing if it had any effect on the healing process that could cause such a reaction… I will show this to my tattoo artist friends and post thier response .Allot of people are saying over moisturizing cuased that .I for years gooped goooped and more goopped moitsrizing lotion on and even went ocaen swimming for more than 50 hours a week with fresh work .worst that happend was that soem color came out but it didnt peel off.there are differant things in moistirzer’s that can cuase a real bad reactions: NEVER USE ANY PRODUCT WITH LANOLIN,it could cuase a major reaction and fuck things up like u see.not always for sure but the possibality is there.

  38. Two factors are involved in this catastrophe! First the Tattoo maybe overworked and a hair to deep, this is apparent by looking at the flap of skin. Under the peeled part there is what appears to be a lot of ink layers! second The Tattoo was over moistened with a petroleum based product. most Tattoo artist use petroleum jelly while applying tattoos, after you should never use petroleum based products on your new tattoo! I also believe she covered the tattoo for a prolonged period of time. this is what happens. For layered tattoos or tattoos with several colors over lapping each other I recommend H2Oceans foam. its a great moisturizer and it impossible to over do it. You should never keep a tattoo cover with a plastic film for any amount of time “that is an infection waiting to happen” saran wrap is for food not feet..

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