Itchy Tattoo Causes, Relief and Remedies after Healing, Years, Removal

Getting a tattoo may come with the shocking discovery that itch is a part of the healing process if enough research had not been done prior to getting inked. One of the possible side effects of getting a tattoo is an itching through the days to follow. To a great extent, this is usually normal, however, there are times when this may be a sign of infection or allergic reactions. We explore how to tell when an itchy tattoo is normal and when it is bad, the causes as well as relief and remedies.

Itchy Tattoo

After getting a tattoo, the skin on and around it will itch. An itchy tattoo may last a few days, two weeks or even months depending on the rate at which your body heals. A new tattoo is just like an open wound whose healing occurs in phases lasting at least two months and up to a year.

Immediately after getting inked, the tattoo gives your skin an open wound. After a week or so, the area will have scabbed completely and the dead skin will start falling off. It is at this point when the pain is likely to go down and the itch increase. In addition to the scabbing, there are other causes for the itching tattoo. These are as discussed below.

Itchy Tattoo Healing Causes

The healing process after one has had a tattoo is complex. There are different causes for the itching with the most common causes of itchy tattoos being:

Peeling Skin

In most cases, the terrible itch will be caused by the peeling of the skin. With the inking, the skin is likely to become sensitive. When the peeling phase of the healing process arises, parts start coming off and getting rubbed against. This makes it to get easily tickled and it gets itchy.

Growth of Shaven Hair

Before the tattooing process starts, the part involved is always shaven. This helps prevent the tattoo needles from getting caught in the hairs existent in the area. It also prevents the hairs from being pushed back into the skin by the needle.

This is an important part of the procedure because hairs pushed down into the skin could cause infections due to the resulting ingrown hairs. As they try to rise back onto the surface, it is also possible for them to push ink out resulting in patchy healing of the tattoo.

When the shaven hairs start to grow once more, it is possible to experience an itchy tattoo.

Allergic Skin Reaction

In other cases, the cause of an itchy tattoo healing process is where there is an allergic reaction to the ink used. This kind of a skin reaction is common although they tend to be minor and subside within days of having the procedure done.

According to, long lasting complications occur mostly on skin area injected with red ink. 44 percent of chronic reactions are to red ink which is attributed to the type of ingredients used in the ink and which are not usually used in other colors.

Existent Skin Conditions

Another cause for an itchy tattoo healing might be existent skin conditions. At times, you may have no idea that the condition was existent as it may manifest itself only after getting the tattoo. Once an area of the skin gets tattooed, it becomes more sensitive. As a result, any previously hidden skin conditions get exposed. The conditions may include psoriasis and eczema. Concerns about any new symptoms previously nonexistent should be looked at by a dermatologist.

In addition to the above causes of an itchy tattoo during the healing process, body chemistry could cause it too. This is because the process may have effects on other organs of the body. Other than being annoying, the itchy after effects do not have far reaching consequences and should not worry you much. They will be short lived in most cases as your body gets used to the tattoo.

Where the itching is severe, bumps or infections arise, get medical attention from a dermatologist immediately.  Do not seek help from the tattooist where the problem is severe.

Itchy Tattoo Relief

While the tattoo is still healing, it is likely to remain itchy. To keep the skin well hydrated and protect the tattoo from infections, it is important to put into place remedies for itchy tattoo. Below are some easy to use itchy tattoo relief options you can try at home.

Over the Counter Products

While the tattoo is still in the inflammation phrase of the healing process, use over the counter anti-bacterial ointment for itch relief. You can ask you tattooist to recommend one for you. This will soothe the skin in addition to keeping infections at bay.

Once the skin starts to feel dry, replace the ointment with a mild lotion. This should be unscented and have hydrating qualities. This way the dead skin around will be lubricated and thus come off easily without causing itch on the tattoo.


An easy home remedy, ice can be used as a method on how to stop tattoo itch. It acts as a numbing agent. This cools off the skin and helps to get rid of the itch and pain temporarily. To ensure that this works properly and does not cause more problems, ensure the ice is wrapped in a towel. This will prevent direct contact of the tattoo and ice which could lead to frost bites. With this, hold down the ice on the tattoo for up to ten minutes to relief the itch. Use as frequently as may be necessary.

Alternatively, put a wet wash cloth in the freezer for a short while and then place it on the tattoo.

Distract your Attention

To divert your attention from the itch try and engage yourself in other things. This will keep your mind off the itchy tattoo. You can achieve this by chewing gum. Its physical and passive nature helps keep your brain engaged. Other activities you may try include typing, playing video games or musical instruments, knitting or crocheting, walking and chatting with friends. These activities will help to keep your mind engaged.

Pat the Area

A new itchy tattoo should never be scratched as this could result in infections and scarring of the tattoo later on.

Where the above options fail and the urge to scratch is really strong, light parting on the area is recommended. This should be done over a clean piece of cloth as the use of bare hands can cause the tattoo wounds to open up. Direct contact should be avoided for the same reason during the healing process.  By patting the area, you relief the itch and sooth the skin around the itchy tattoo.

Raised Itchy Tattoo After Years – Really Itchy Healed Tattoo

Like indicated earlier on, tattoo healing process occurs in stages. There is therefore no definite healing time for tattoos. How long it takes will depend on how well the process is done, the after-care given as well as whether any infections are experienced. As such, an itchy tattoo may be experienced after a week. This may continue for up to two to twelve months.  As such, an itchy tattoo after two months to one year is normal.

Where you experience a raised itchy tattoo years after it has healed, you should be concerned. Really itchy healed tattoos may be indicative of cancer especially where there are bumps on it. To be certain visit your dermatologist. It is also possible to experience an itchy tattoo removal where it is done on an old tattoo after five years. To get help on how to relief the itch, communicate your concerns with the specialist conducting the procedure.

Tips on How to Deal with an Itchy Tattoo

  • Never scratch a new tattoo to avoid infections.
  • Avoid getting too much water on the tattoo. Take short warm showers during the healing process. Keep off swimming and soaking in tubs.
  • Only use approved tattoo after care products and follow manufacturer instructions for fast healing.


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