Microblading Infection: Signs & Symptoms + What to look out for
Having an infection is a rare but potentially serious side effect from getting the microblading procedure done.
You should know that there is a small risk (around 1-3%) that you may have an infection after your procedure.
Most of the time these infections can be treated with over the counter antibiotics that can be topically placed on your skin.
In some serious cases you may need antibiotics, learn more about when you should and shouldn't be concerned below:
What is "normal" after the microblading procedure?
When talking about an infection it's important to realize what is normal after your procedure and what is abnormal.
What is considered normal after you procedure?
- Some slight redness or swelling around the eyebrows (swelling that continues beyond 2-3 days may be an early sign of an infection)
- Some tenderness of your eyebrows that may last 2-3 days
- Scabbing of the eyebrows that may last up to 7 days
- Peeling of the skin or darkening of the pigment used
(From the picture above you can see the redness directly around the site of the microbladed brow. Some redness immediately after the procedure is normal but it should subside very soon thereafter.)
These are considered normal changes to your skin after the procedure.
Remember that the microblading procedure does enter into the skin at the dermal-epidermal junction and any procedure that breaks the skin does require healing time.
Likewise any procedure that breaks that skin also carries with it a small risk of infection.
The biggest risk is developing a deep infection of the skin which turns into a condition known as "cellulitis".
Cellulitis refers to an infection of the inner layer of the skin that can spread if not treated appropriately.
Most infections after your microblading procedure will be limited and can be treated with topical antibiotic creams.
If you do develop cellulitis, however, you will probably need antibiotic treatment.
This condition is hard to miss if you know what you are looking for and we will go over those symptoms below.
What should you do if you suspect that you have an infection?
The first thing you should do if you think you may have an infection is contact your microblader.
Each microblading artist (much like a Tattoo artist) should have a procedure on how to approach a possible infection.
This includes their recommended topical treatments or referral to a Doctor if necessary.
If they don't have a procedure to follow then please consider using the recommendations that I use on my clients.
It's important to note that infections are still VERY rare (in my experience about 1% or 1 in 100 people) but should be treated if you suspect it.
To date I have never had a client have an infection that required the use of oral antibiotics, but I have some some clients who do need temporary use of topical antibiotics.
Signs & Symptoms you may have an infection
Generally you will know if you are developing an infection based on your symptoms.
Below I will go over the most common symptoms on an early infection:
- Odor coming from your eyebrow
- Discharge that may be a greenish/brownish color
- Tenderness when touching (please avoid touching your eyebrows after the procedure!)
- Redness around the procedure site but not extending beyond it
These symptoms are early signs of an infection and may indicate an infection is starting.
At this stage you should contact your microblader and consider the use of topical antibiotics.
If the infection continues it may develop into a more serious infection with these type of symptoms:
- Swelling that extends into the eyelids or other places on the face
- Redness that extends beyond the eyebrow and up into the scalp or cheek area
- Warmth when touching the red areas
- Tenderness and/or pain to your face/eyebrows
- Fever or chills or increase in sweating (signs that suggest you have a systemic infection)
If you start to develop any of these worsening signs then you should see a Doctor ASAP.
These are early signs that you may be developing facial cellulitis and you may need oral or IV antibiotics.
Again, most of these symptoms can be treated as long as you catch it early, but you need to be aware of them.
Over the counter treatment options
If you are noticing the early signs of infection then you should consider using an antibiotic cream.
It's also important to use other strategies to increase healing time and reduce the risk of developing cellulitis or a worsening infection.
Consider these tips if you have an early infection:
- Consider using an antibiotic ointment like Bacitracin (this is what I use if my clients have issues). Bacitracin will treat the most common skin pathogens such as staph and strep (even MRSA) and does not include ointments that can irritate the skin. This is the ointment that I use.
- Avoid using triple antibiotic ointment like neosporin which contains neomycin that approximately 1 in 10 people react to with a rash (that's a LOT of people).
- Avoid covering up the microbladed brow with creams and gels such as vaseline or other emollients which can trap in heat and keep an infection in the wound (remember bacteria dies in the presence of oxygen)
- Consider using a cold pack on your eyebrows to reduce swelling and heat, this can also help alleviate some of the pain/tenderness
- Keep the area clean! Avoid using makeup or other topical agents (besides the antibiotic) on your skin/wound
Using these tips will allow your brows to heal quickly and should prevent the spread or worsening infection.
Watch out for Nickel reaction and Rashes
Another important consideration is that some clients may be allergic to the pigment that you place in their skin.
Reactions to pigment usually come from Nickel and should be discussed prior to your appointment (this should be on the waiver form and each microblader should go over this with the client).
People who have nickel allergies usually know it and will ask, but you should always double check.
A reaction to nickel looks like a rash or almost like a mini burn (image below):
Rashes can create a site for infection but do not necessarily mean you have an infection if they flare up as noted above.
But because the facial area is so important it's critical that you get evaluation by a Doctor if you notice swelling or redness like the picture above.
Never microblade over a wound, cut, burn or rash!
If you have a wound, cut, burn or rash please push back your microblading appointment.
It is ok to microblade over a scar (as long as it is healed) but you should never microblade over a wound in the skin.
This will dramatically increase your risk of infection.
I have had several clients have to push back their appointments due to issues with cuts and/or burns from things like curling irons.
Just make sure that your canvas is pristine before your procedure!
When to see a Doctor
The bottom line is to always be safe.
If you notice something has changed or worsened quickly please make sure you seek medical attention.
Infections of the face can be very dangerous and should be treated with respect.
As long as you follow the proper guidelines you can reduce your risk of infection dramatically!
And remember that most clients tolerate the procedure VERY well and most clients do not end up with an infection.
Now it's your turn:
Are you experiencing issues after your microblading appointment?
Do you have the early signs of an infection?
Leave any comments or questions below!