Can You Donate Blood If You Have A Tattoo?

woman laying on bed about to donate blood

For most of us, living through a  global pandemic is unprecedented—unless you are old enough to recall the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. As a result of the pandemic, inevitably we all know people who are near and dear to us who have been sick, and  many people are thinking about donating blood or plasma to help others who are in need to recover from their illness. Particularly now, due to Covid-19, the overall availability of  blood is lower and viable donors are in high demand.

If you want to donate blood and you’ve got a tattoo, then you will want to read on and make sure you meet the specific requirements before rolling up your sleeve at a donation center near you.

Can you donate blood if you have a tattoo? The short answer is-yes. The longer answer is, probably, but first you need to be sure you pass all the criteria to be a viable donor, and then, there may be some time you need to wait before you can donate.

The primary reason you may have to wait to donate after getting a tattoo is due to your risk of getting an infection, and possibly passing it along in your blood through donation. If there’s any chance that your blood has been compromised, the donation center won’t be able to use it.

When Introducing ink, or any other foreign material into your body, it can have an effect on your immune system and you risk possible exposure to harmful viruses which do pass through your bloodstream. Also, though less common, if an unclean tattoo needle was used on your tattoo, it also can carry several types of bloodborne infections.

State-regulated tattoo shops are monitored on a regular basis to ensure they are following the safe and sterile tattooing practices, so the risk of infection is low if you visited one of them. If you are still thinking about getting a tattoo, then be sure to interview the tattoo artist and confirm you will be working with a licensed artist in a state-regulated shop. 

Right now,  the following 11 states do not license their tattoo facilities:

District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wyoming

According to the American Red Cross,  you must wait at least 3 months to donate blood after getting a tattoo in a location that is not state-regulated. Other opinions advise  you may need to wait until your tattoo is more than a year old before you can safely donate.

Beyond the tattoo, here are a list of other minimum requirements for donating blood:

  • Be at least 17 years old, 16 if you have consent from a parent or guardian
  • Body temperature below 99.5°F (37.5°C)
  • Not be anemic
  • Not be pregnant
  • Not have any disqualifying medical conditions
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds

Since less than 38% of the U.S. population are actually eligible to donate blood, and many of those are not stepping up on a regular basis for other reasons, there is always a need for donors. If you are a person who meets the requirements above and you’ve got a tattoo, then you should certainly verify your eligibility and go ahead and visit a donation center near you, where your blood could potentially help to save someone else’s life.


About the author: Yaffa Baslaw (@yadeinu) is a Freelance Writer with over a decade of experience copywriting and blogging compelling content. She has written for more than 20 companies in the fields of healthcare, skincare, and retail.