If you have tattoos or are thinking of getting one you might be wondering if you can donate blood in the UK.
You may be worried about your safety and the person who is receiving your blood, as well as what times you can donate. Read on to find out everything you need to know about giving blood when you’re tattooed.
Can you donate blood with tattoos?
Yes you can donate blood if you have tattoos. Having fully healed tattoos shouldn’t stop you being able to donate blood. In fact, it's encouraged!
“Many thousands of people with tattoos regularly donate blood and save lives," says a spokesperson for NHS Blood and Transplant. "We just ask that donors please wait four months after having a tattoo before giving blood.
"We always need more people to join our amazing community of lifesaving blood donors and help meet the needs of patients right now and in the future. There currently is a particular need for more young donors and Black heritage donors.
"Each donation can save or improve up to three lives!"
How long after a tattoo can you donate blood?
If you have new tattoos or healing tattoos there are certain criteria you need to meet to donate blood in the UK.
As mentioned, NHS Blood and Transplant state that you have to wait 4 months after having a tattoo to give blood in the UK.
The 4 month wait time also applies if you’ve had:
- Semi-permanent makeup
- Laser tattoo removal
The 4 months starts on the date of your new tattoo, piercing or cosmetic tattoo. So, although you can donate blood with tattoos you’ll need to hold off before booking your blood donation appointment until 4 months have passed.
Why can't you donate blood after getting a tattoo?
The main reason you can’t donate blood immediately after a tattoo is the risk of blood-borne illnesses. Which is why you should wait 4 months after a tattoo to donate blood.
Waiting 4 months is for patient safety, as this time allows the medical teams to be sure that the people receiving your donated blood won’t be at risk of any blood-borne illnesses.
Even though tattoos and piercings are relatively safe when done with a reputable artist, it’s still introducing a foreign object into your body which can lead to infection.
If you’ve recently been tattooed and are unsure if your tattoo is infected, read our how do I know my tattoo is infected blog.
How soon after donating can you get a tattoo?
Donating blood can make some people feel faint or lightheaded either during your donation or afterwards. Which is why the NHS advise that you avoid getting a tattoo or piercing on the same day or evening after you donate blood.
They explain that this can increase the risk of adverse reactions such as feeling faint, fainting or lightheadedness during or after donating blood.
The good news is you can book a tattoo or piercing the day after your blood donation as long as you’re feeling well and recovered from the donation. So if you’re feeling up to it, book in a tattoo or piercing as a little reward for giving blood and possibly saving lives.
Before you get booking your next ink, read our preparation guide to make sure you’re feeling your best!
Planning your blood donations around your tattoo appointments
If you have regular tattoos or regularly give blood you may want to get planning. Get your calendar (yes some of us still use a paper one!) out or open your app and mark up 4 months after your blood donation appointment for your new tattoo.
Or make a note on the day after your blood donation is scheduled to get your new tattoo. Either way you’ll want to make sure your appointments don’t clash and it’s safe to give blood.
Tattoos and giving blood frequently asked questions
I have a tattoo – can I give blood?
In short, yes! NHS Blood and Transplant says the NHS welcomes everyone who wishes to give blood, and it's vital to ensure that donation is safe for blood donors and recipients of donated blood.
What questions will I be asked?
Before each blood donation, every donor is given a Donation Safety Check form to complete to check their eligibility to donate. All donors are asked whether they’ve had their ears, face or body pierced, had a tattoo or any cosmetic treatment that involved piercing the skin in the last four months. This is because donors must wait for four months after having a tattoo before they can give blood. This includes semi-permanent make-up and microblading, and the wait is the same for body piercings and acupuncture.
What is donated blood used for?
Blood is needed to help the NHS treat patients with cancer, blood disorders and those suffering medical trauma or undergoing surgery, and O negative blood is mostly used for emergency care.
How do I give blood?
Register now and book an appointment at blood.co.uk, on the GiveBloodNHS app, or call 0300 123 23 23.
For more advice, inspiration and amazing artists, check out the Stories & Ink Journal.