What to Know When You Get a Tattoo

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(KXAS) - Doctors are warning patients with fresh tattoos to be cautious after one man died earlier this year.

(Photo Courtesy: NBC)

He contracted a flesh-eating bacteria while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico with a freshly-inked tattoo.

There are rules that tattoo artist Caleb Barndard tells every client: "Stay out of the ocean, stay out of the river, stay out of the lake, stay out of the pool, stay out of the hot tub."

...because this is what could happen..

Pictures recently published by doctors are of a 31 year-old Dallas man's infected tattoo.

Doctors say five days after he got the ink done, he went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.

Three days later, he was in the care of Dr. Nicolas Hendren.

"Very quickly over a couple of hours, it began to get more discolored, more bruised and had large blisters that began to form, which is certainly alarming to us as it was to him," Hendren said.

Hendren says a bacteria called vibrio vulnificus entered the man's body through his fresh tattoo.

The bacteria is common in gulf waters, and most infections happen from eating raw oysters.

"The most common symptoms in healthy or mild infection is just some nausea, some vomiting, some diarrhea. For severe infections like our patient - extreme pain, rapid changes in skin discoloration, rapidly changing wounds within a matter of hours are all signs that there is a potentially serious infection going on," Hendren said.

Doctor says the man's prior liver disease from heavy drinking made the infection worse. He died from septic shock two months later.

With the summer months here, Caleb says it should be a reminder about tattoo safety.

"If you adhere to what we tell you to do, you shouldn't have any problems at all," Barnard said.

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