It goes without saying that tattoos are very popular these days. People all over the world use them as a way to express themselves and stand out from the crowd.
However, while everybody warns you about how painful it is, few people talk about the healing process. In fact, almost nobody mentions the frustrating itchiness that many experiences after being tattooed. As a result, more often than not, you’ll see people that just had a tattoo asking one simple question: why is my tattoo itchy? Read on to find out what causes it and what you can do to relieve your itchiness.
Why Is My Tattoo Itchy? 6 Reasons
1. Normal Healing
Generally speaking, it is normal for a tattoo to itch during the healing phase. The tattooing process causes small ruptures in your skin that the body slowly closes. The injured cells need to form and regenerate in order to restore the skin layer and prevent germs from entering the skin. As a matter of fact, that’s why you might also notice some swelling for a few days after tattooing.
You need to resist the urge to scratch, as that can lead to more irritation and may even cause infection. Not only that, but scratching can remove scabs too early, which results in scarring. And in some rarer cases, it can interfere with ink placement and ruin the tattoo’s artwork.
2. Ink Contamination
Tattoo artists have the responsibility to keep their ink clean and clear. But sometimes, the ink can be contaminated, triggering irritations, infections, or allergic reactions. There have been plenty of examples of the FDA recalling tattoo inks because they weren’t safe to use.
3. Allergic Reactions
Tattoo inks contain ingredients that may cause allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can happen days, months, or even years after getting the tattoo. Interestingly, people tend to develop allergies to specific ink colors. While any color can trigger an allergy, studies suggest that red ink is more likely to do so since it usually contains iron, aluminum, and calcium.
Besides itching, allergic reactions can also cause:
• Scaly skin
• Flaking or crusting
• Pimple-like bumps
These allergic reactions can usually go away on their own. However, you should contact a doctor if you have additional symptoms, like dizziness, chest tightness, swelling, and trouble breathing.
As previously mentioned, tattoos damage the skin by puncturing it. If the tattoo artist uses non-sterile instruments, they can introduce bacteria into the skin and cause infections. Common symptoms of infections include:
• Red streaks on the skin
• Severe Pain
• Redness in the nearby areas
• Painful and itchy red bumps
Without proper treatment, the infection can spread throughout the body. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above after getting a tattoo, you should immediately contact your doctor.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes inflammation, itchiness, and redness. While tattoos don’t necessarily trigger eczema, they can sometimes flare-up in the area of a tattoo months later. Keep in mind that people prone to eczema should talk to a doctor before getting a tattoo.
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy skin cells. That makes the skin cells renew too quickly, which results in scaly, red patches on the skin that are often painful and itchy. Skin injuries, such as those caused by vaccines and tattoos, can trigger psoriasis. Fortunately, the condition is treatable with a few topical creams.
How Long Does Tattoo Itching Last?
Usually, tattoos tend to be itchy for one to two weeks. Once the skin has healed, and the scabs fall off, you shouldn’t experience any itchiness. However, some people reported itching for months after getting a tattoo without any symptoms pointing toward an allergy or infection.
How to Treat It
There are a few ways you can reduce the itchiness without doing any damage to your tattoo:
• Moisturize: Every professional tattoo artist will recommend that you keep your skin hydrated by applying moisturizer. Not only will this quicken the healing process, but it will replenish the skin with minerals, keeping it from drying out. That way, you prevent eczema, infections, and irritations.
• Pat or tap the area: Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to resist the urge to scratch your tattoo in order to stop the itchiness. But instead of doing that and damaging the artwork, you can tap, pat or slap the area gently and get similar results.
• Cool the tattoo: Another way to relieve the itchiness is to apply a cold compress to the area. That reduces the inflammation, swelling, and itchiness that occur for a couple of days after getting inked. Just make sure to use a soft cloth or cold compress, as these materials won’t damage your tattoo.
• Use creams and ointments: You can find plenty of tattoo creams and ointments that can keep the itchiness at bearable levels. They work by numbing or soothing the area, providing relief. However, you should ask your tattoo artist before trying any cream, as some only work for healed tattoos and not new ones.