Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Cold Sore After Lip Blush

By Emily M.| Last updated on February 2, 2023
cold sore after lip blush
⏱️ 6 min read

Lip blush is a style of cosmetic lip tattoo. It’s highly popular because it’s subtle and versatile. If you choose a pigment close to your natural lip color, you can match your lip blush tattoo with any style of makeup for any occasion.

Potential side effects of a lip blush include swelling, tenderness, allergic reactions, and infections. One very common side effect is getting cold sores. They’re a sign of a viral infection.

PMUHub is here for you with all the relevant information about getting a cold sore after lip blush: why it happens, how to recognize it, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.

What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are a skin problem caused by the Herpes Simplex Type 1 virus (often called HSV1 for short).

They look like blisters or scabs appearing on or around the lips, as well as inside the nose and eyelids. They can appear elsewhere on the body too, but the face is especially afflicted.

That’s because the skin in the lip area is much thinner and more sensitive.

Likewise, the inside of the nose and eyelids is covered in highly sensitive thin mucous membrane. The face is also more exposed to sweat, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. That makes it even more prone to infections.

Annoying as they can be, cold sores are generally harmless.

What are cold sores?
Image source: Freepik

Why Did I Get Herpes after Lip Blush?

Herpes after lip PMU treatments appears because the intense stimulation from the repeated needling provokes a flare-up of the virus. Since HSV1 is naturally present in most people, the only question is whether you had it before or got it after the treatment.

If you already had HSV1 in your system you probably knew about it. You would have had cold sores at some point in the past. However, it’s also possible that you had the virus but it was latent.

In that case, the appearance of herpes after lip blush tattooing would be your first flare-up. This can feel sudden and scary, but it’s not something to panic about. Just treat your sore like it’s usually done. We’ll give you detailed information about that a little further down.

The other possibility is that HSV1 entered your system after the appointment. That most likely means that you didn’t follow the aftercare instructions fully.

HSV1 spreads between people via contact with saliva. It usually happens through kissing, sharing a glass or cup, using improperly cleaned cutlery, or otherwise touching your lips to a contaminated surface.

Your PMU artist will have warned you about all of these scenarios. That’s why it’s so important to follow their instructions to the letter.

getting herpes after lip blush
Image source: YouTube Screenshot Paulina Osinkowska

Is It Normal to Get a Cold Sore After Lip Tattoo?

Getting a cold sore after lip blush treatment is relatively common. As we already mentioned, the herpes virus is naturally present in most people.

If you had cold sores in the past, your artist will ask you to take some precautions. It helps to prevent a flare-up during your appointment and reduces the risk of herpes appearing while your lips are healing.

Is It a Problem?

Preventing or minimizing flare-ups of herpes after lip blush and other lip PMU is critical for a successful result. Cold sores can affect pigment retention and the healing process.

First, the HSV1 causes uncomfortable blisters that produce yellowish ooze. When they burst and leak, it can push out some of the PMU pigment too.

Afterwards, the cold sore scabs over. It feels tight and itchy and it’s quite annoying. If you pick at them or pull them off early, some of the pigment comes off too. They might even cause scars.

All that can leave you with a patchy, unattractive final result of your lip blush. That means you might need additional touch-ups. You’ll need to go through extra needling, pay more, and wait longer to heal completely.

Your perfect new lip look gets delayed, and you have to be careful about all the aftercare details for that much longer. So, follow your artist’s instructions and resist the temptation to mess with your cold sore after lip tattoo treatments.

How to Recognize Signs of Herpes After Lip Blush

HSV1 infections feature some tell-tale symptoms. Keep an eye on the following after your lip tattoo:

  • Blisters or blister clusters
  • Oozing yellowish liquid
  • Scabbing
  • Tightness and itching

With HSV1, those are localized in cold sores. But they do somewhat overlap with symptoms of bacterial infections. Signs of a bacterial infection after lip blush treatment include:

  • Painful blisters or bubbles
  • Major swelling
  • Yellowish, whitish, or greenish discharge
  • Oozing pus
  • Unpleasant odor in the infected area

Keep in mind that some swelling, itchiness, and lymph discharge after your appointment is perfectly normal. PMU involves breaking the surface of the skin, after all.

But if those side effects seem unusually severe to you or if they don’t subside after a day or two, they might point to a developing lip infection. Contact your artist right away and send them pictures. They’ll assess if there’s any cause to worry and tell you what to do.

How to Recognize Signs of Herpes After Lip Blush
Image source: YouTube Screenshot
Alma Gonzalez

How Do You Prevent a Cold Sore After Lip Blush?

There are steps you can take before and after your PMU appointment to prevent getting a flare-up of herpes after lip blush.

Before Your Appointment

Take your time to choose a licensed, certified artist. Ask friends who have done lip tattoos for recommendations and look into artist reviews online. When you find a few you like, book consultations with all of them and compare.

Ask about their credentials and portfolios. Reputable artists often openly display their certificates and examples of their work. Also check if their working environment is cleanPMU has to be done with sterilized tools and materials.

When you settle on one artist, ask them about preparing for the appointment. They’ll probably recommend that you ask your doctor for antiviral medication to take preventively. This is especially true if you already know you have HSV1 flare-ups.

Your artist might also point out some things to avoid:

  • Exfoliating skincare
  • Skin-thinning meds (e.g. some strong antibiotics)
  • Blood-thinning substances (caffeine, alcohol, ibuprofen, etc.)

After Your Appointment

Commit to your artist’s aftercare plan. We cannot stress this enough. Follow their instructions for cleaning, nourishing, and protecting your lips. You’ll probably need to maintain your course of antiviral meds for a few more days.

It might be a good idea to get new lip cosmetics too. The products you used before might be contaminated and your lips are super sensitive while healing. Invest in new lip balm and anything else you want to keep using after your lip tattoo.

Also, you’ll need to watch out for everyday items that touch your lips, like face towels, cutlery, and silverware. Wash everything thoroughly and don’t share with anyone.

How Do You Treat a Cold Sore After a Lip Tattoo?

If you do get a cold sore after a lip tattoo, don’t panic. With the right treatment and a little patience, you can get rid of it without ruining your new and enhanced lip look.

First and foremost, consult your GP. They will prescribe you appropriate antiviral meds.

You can also try an over-the-counter medication if you’re well-versed with treating cold sore flare ups. In that case, make sure to follow the instructions for use and dosage religiously.

Still, a consultation with your own doctor is the best choice. They know your unique medical history so they can recommend the most effective solutions.

As a bonus precaution, you can ask your artist to recommend you an aftercare ointment. Many of them have mild antibacterial properties. While cold sores are a virus problem, it helps to fortify your lips against bacteria too.

Bacterial infections can bring down your immune system. That makes it easier for viral complications (like cold sores) to tack on.

The most important thing is to leave the sore alone. Don’t pick at it or pull off the scab. Let it fall off on its own. Otherwise you could pull your pigments out with the scab and end up with patchy lips which will need additional touch-ups.

How to Treat a Cold Sore After a Lip Tattoo?
Image source: Freepik

Cold Sore After Lip Blush – Key Takeaways

Lip blush is a popular form of cosmetic lip tattooing. The repeated needling in the sensitive area can cause a flare-up of the Herpes Simplex Type 1 virus which results in cold sores.

You can recognize cold sores as blisters on or around the lips. They might discharge some yellowish ooze and they’re often itchy. After a while they scab over and fall off.

HSV1 is very common so a cold sore after lip blush is nothing to panic about. Your artist and your GP will advise you on how to prevent them and how to treat any that might pop up after your appointment.

The most important thing is to follow aftercare instructions. Protect your lips from contamination and don’t pick at the cold sores if they show up. Let them go away in their own time to minimize their chances of ruining your new lip pigmentation.

Cover image source: Freepik



Exclusive insights into the PMU industry right in your inbox.

FREE newsletter. 100% good stuff.