Why Your Tattoo Itches: Understanding and Treating Tattoo Itching


Have you recently gotten a new tattoo and noticed that it’s been itching? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Tattoo itching is a common experience for many people with new ink. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of tattoo itching and provide you with practical tips and remedies for treating it.

The Ins and Outs of Tattoo Itching: An In-Depth Guide

Tattoo itching refers to the unpleasant sensation of itchiness or irritation in and around the tattooed area. It usually occurs during the healing process, which typically takes two to four weeks. The exact cause of tattoo itching is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a combination of psychological and physiological factors.

Psychologically, the anticipation and excitement of getting a tattoo can trigger a stress response in our body, which can lead to increased histamine levels. Physiologically, our immune system may see the tattoo ink as a foreign invader and respond to it with an inflammatory reaction, causing swelling, redness, and itching.

There are different types of tattoo itching, ranging from mild itchiness to intense discomfort. Some people may also experience other symptoms, such as pain, heat, or blisters. The type and severity of tattoo itching may depend on several factors, including the size and location of the tattoo, the type of ink used, and the individual’s immune system and skin sensitivity.

7 Reasons Why Your Tattoo Maybe Itching and How to Treat It

Here are seven common reasons why your tattoo may be itching and how to treat them:

1. Dry skin

If your skin is dry and dehydrated, it can lead to itching and flaking around the tattooed area. To treat this, you should moisturize your skin regularly with a gentle, fragrance-free lotion or ointment. Avoid using harsh soaps or scented products that can irritate the skin.

2. Allergy

If you are allergic to the tattoo ink or any of the products used during the tattooing process, it can cause an allergic reaction, including itching, rash, and swelling. To treat this, you should consult with your doctor and get tested for allergies. If you have a confirmed allergy, you may need to consider removing the tattoo or getting a tattoo with hypoallergenic ink.

3. Infection

If your tattooed skin is infected with bacteria or viruses, it can cause itching, pain, and discharge. To treat this, you should seek medical attention immediately and follow your doctor’s instructions. You may need to take antibiotics or antiviral medications to clear the infection. To prevent infection, make sure to keep your tattoo clean and avoid exposing it to dirty or contaminated environments.

4. Overstimulation

If you have been scratching or rubbing your tattoo too much, it can cause overstimulation and more itching. To treat this, you should avoid touching or picking at your tattoo and try to distract yourself with other activities. You can also apply a cool, damp cloth or ice pack to the itching area to soothe the skin.

5. Keloids

If you are prone to keloid scarring, it can lead to excessive itching and raised bumps around the tattoo. To treat this, you should consult with your doctor and consider getting a corticosteroid injection or silicone gel sheeting to flatten the scar tissue. You should also avoid exposing the tattoo to friction or pressure, which can exacerbate the keloids.

6. Sunburn

If you expose your tattoo to direct sunlight or tanning beds, it can cause sunburn and itching. To treat this, you should cover your tattoo with clothing or a non-toxic sunscreen with at least SPF 30. You should also avoid swimming in chlorinated or saltwater pools, which can irritate the skin.

7. Medication side effects

If you are taking certain medications, such as antibiotics, antihistamines, or painkillers, it can cause itching as a side effect. To treat this, you should consult with your doctor and discuss the dosage or alternative treatments. You should also avoid taking any medication without a prescription or medical supervision.

Tattoo Aftercare: The Do’s and Don’ts of Handling an Itchy Tattoo

Proper aftercare is essential for preventing and alleviating tattoo itching. Here are some do’s and don’ts of handling an itchy tattoo:


  • Wash your tattoo gently with mild soap and lukewarm water, then pat dry with a clean towel
  • Apply a thin layer of fragrance-free lotion or ointment to the tattoo, such as Aquaphor or Lubriderm
  • Cover your tattoo with loose, breathable clothing to protect it from friction and sunlight
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol and caffeine
  • Consult with your tattoo artist or a dermatologist if you have any concerns or complications


  • Scratch, pick, or rub your tattoo, which can damage the skin and cause infection
  • Expose your tattoo to direct sunlight, tanning beds, or saunas, which can fade the ink and cause sunburn
  • Swim in chlorinated or saltwater pools, hot tubs, or lakes, which can harbor bacteria and irritate the skin
  • Use petroleum jelly, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide on your tattoo, which can dry out the skin and delay healing
  • Take hot showers or baths, which can open the pores and increase itching and swelling

How Your Skin Reacts to Getting a Tattoo: Understanding Tattoo Itching

The tattooing process can cause various reactions in the skin, leading to tattoo itching and other symptoms. When the needle penetrates the skin, it creates small puncture wounds that trigger an immune response, sending white blood cells and histamines to the area. This can cause inflammation, redness, and itchiness.

As the tattoo heals, the skin may also form scabs, peel, or flake, which can further contribute to the itching sensation. This is a normal part of the healing process and should be treated with patience and care.

The duration and intensity of tattoo itching may depend on the individual’s skin type, immune system, and healing speed. Typically, a new tattoo may itch for a few days to a few weeks, but if the itching persists or becomes severe, it may be a sign of an underlying issue.

The Science Behind Tattoo Itching and What You Can Do About It

Research has shown that tattoo itching is a complex phenomenon that involves various neural, immunological, and psychological mechanisms. Some of the current theories include:

  • The release of brain chemicals, such as endorphins and dopamine, that stimulate the nerve fibers and cause itching
  • The activation of immune cells, such as T-cells and mast cells, that release cytokines and histamines and trigger inflammation and itching
  • The alteration of the skin’s natural microbiome, which can affect the immune response and lead to itching or infection

While the exact cause of tattoo itching may vary, there are several evidence-based remedies that can help alleviate it:

  • Topical creams, such as hydrocortisone or pramoxine, that can reduce inflammation and numb the skin
  • Antihistamines, such as Benadryl or Zyrtec, that can block the histamine receptors and reduce itching
  • Natural remedies, such as aloe vera gel, oatmeal bath, or chamomile tea, that can soothe the skin and promote healing

It’s important to note that these remedies should be used with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Some individuals may be sensitive to certain ingredients or have adverse reactions. It’s also important to avoid overusing these remedies, as they can prolong the healing process or cause other complications.

Top Tips for Relieving Itchy Tattoos and Maintaining Your Ink’s Vibrancy

Managing tattoo itching can be challenging, but there are several tips that can help:

  • Apply a cold compress or ice pack to the itching area for a few minutes at a time
  • Avoid wearing tight or synthetic clothing that can trap sweat and irritate the skin
  • Drink plenty of water and eat a well-balanced diet to promote skin health and hydration
  • Get enough rest and sleep to reduce stress and promote healing
  • Use a tattoo aftercare product that is specifically designed for new tattoos and contains natural ingredients

In addition to relieving tattoo itching, it’s also important to maintain your ink’s vibrancy and longevity. Here are some tips:

  • Avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight or tanning beds, as UV radiation can fade the ink
  • Moisturize your skin daily to prevent dryness and flaking
  • Avoid using alcohol or petroleum-based products, which can damage the ink and the skin
  • Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing over your tattoo, which can cause friction and inflammation
  • Consider getting touch-up sessions every few years to maintain the color and sharpness of your tattoo

Common Mistakes That Make Tattoos Itch More – And How to Fix Them

Here are some common mistakes that people do that can exacerbate tattoo itching:

  • Over-moisturizing the tattoo with too much lotion, ointment, or oil, which can clog the pores and delay healing
  • Exposing the tattoo to direct sunlight, chlorine, or salt water before it has fully healed, which can damage the skin and cause infection
  • Skipping the aftercare instructions, such as washing the tattoo with soap and lukewarm water and avoiding tight clothing or bedding
  • Touching or picking at the scabs or flakes, which can cause bleeding, scarring, and infection
  • Using low-quality ink or getting a tattoo from an unlicensed or inexperienced artist, which can lead to poor quality and allergic reactions

To fix these mistakes, you should follow the proper aftercare instructions and consult with your tattoo artist or a dermatologist if you have any concerns or complications. You should also invest in a high-quality tattoo product that can help soothe and protect your tattoo.


Tattoo itching can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience, but it’s also a normal part of the healing process. By understanding the causes and treatment options of tattoo itching, you can take better care of your tattoo and avoid unnecessary complications. Remember to follow the do’s and don’ts of tattoo aftercare, use evidence-based remedies, and consult with your healthcare professional if you have any concerns. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy your tattoo for years to come.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Courier Blog by Crimson Themes.