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Itchy Tattoo: Why Do Tattoos Itch and How to Heal the Scratchy Tattoo

If you’ve ever had a tattoo, you’ll be all too familiar with the feeling of the itchy and scratchy tattoo period that we all have to endure. It’s an uncomfortable sensation that requires a high amount of patience, as one scratch or picking off a scabbed tattoo could permanently damage the design and make it appear faded.

Tattoo aftercare is one of the most critical stages of the tattooing process. It can be the difference between a beautiful, brand-new piece of ink and a damaged and prematurely faded design. That is one of the reasons you need to take into consideration while looking for a tattoo shop and the best tattoo artists to get inked.

This article will take a deeper dive into the itchy tattoo sensation, why it arises in the first place, and what you can do to get rid of it.

Why do tattoos itch?

Tickly peeling skin

So why do tattoos itch in the first place? Are you doing something wrong? Well, first off, it’s important to note that tattoo itching is a perfectly normal part of the healing process. Don’t forget, your skin has just gone through some pretty severe stress, and your skin has essentially been damaged via repeated punctures in the same area.

The way your body reacts is to scab up over the area in an attempt to protect and heal the skin, and for the vast majority of us, this leaves us with an itchy tattoo.

It’s perfectly normal for the skin to feel tickly and start to peel after a few days and for up to a few weeks.

Allergic reactions

Of course, sometimes there are situations when an itching tattoo is a sign of something more serious, which may need medical attention one of those issues being an allergic reaction to the pigment used in the tattoo ink. Strangely, an allergic reaction can occur right away or up to several years after your tattoo is finished.

If your tattoo feels excessively itchy or has red and bump hive-like features, you should seek medical advice.

Regrowth of the shaved hairs

When we get a tattoo, most artists shave the desired location of the tattoo and the surrounding area. That way, they can do a better job, as they can see their canvas more easily. When your hairs regrow, it can cause mild itching and discomfort, but this discomfort is increased when you account for the wounded skin in the tattooed area.

Skin conditions

An overly itchy and scratchy tattoo could also arise due to pre-existing medical conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. This can cause discomfort in the tattooed area will more than likely lead to increased levels of itchiness.

While this is not an immediate cause for concern, you should keep a close eye on the wound and consult a medical professional’s advice if the problem persists for more than a week.

tattoo itching

What to do when the tattoo itches?

Next, let’s take a look at how to stop tattoo itching!

Apply a moisturizer

When you get a really itchy and scratchy tattoo, one of the best things you can do is apply a moisturizer to the area. This replenishes the skin with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals for repair whilst hydrating the dried-out area.

Most of the time, itchiness occurs due to a dried-out scab, which can lead to flaky skin peeling off the tattoo. Check in with your artist for their personal recommendations on the best tattoo cream. They will usually suggest going for a fragrance-free, unscented option so that it does not damage the tattoo in any way.

Pat, tap or slap the area gently

The worst thing you can do with a new tattoo is to scratch it directly with your fingernails or any other sharp object. If you remove the scabs too soon, you will almost definitely leave yourself with a faded/damaged tattoo.

Instead of scratching, try to pat, tap, or slap the itchy area.

Take a bath

A great way to subside the itchy feeling is to take a relaxing hot bath, but be warned! This is only advised for tattoos that are at least one month old, as submerging a new tattoo in water is a surefire way to damage it.

Engage in a distracting activity

Sometimes the best way to get over an itchy tattoo feeling is to distract yourself with something fun so you can take your mind off it. Get outside, play some sports, and turn on your favorite reality TV for a guilty pleasure. You have the excuse of telling yourself it’s for a good reason, so use it!

Just make sure you don’t lapse your concentration and accidentally scratch off and damage your new ink.

Cool the inked area

Last but not least, some people get relief by applying a cold compress to their new tattoos. This helps to ease itching while reducing the inflammation that occurs in the days following the tattooing.

As always, ensure you aren’t using any materials that may stick to the tattoo so that you don’t damage it.

About the Author

Jacob Pullman

Jacob Pullman

Jacob Pullman is a former tattoo artist turned into a consultant-enthusiast-writer-educator. A change of career, before he started writing, he got a degree in PR and communications. He is passionate about traveling and exploring the world and cultures visiting all those funky museums as a modern art lover. His ultimate goal is to spread knowledge about relationships (but only theoretically, as he is still single), a healthy lifestyle, body art, and of course, everything related to tattoo art. That's how he went deep into digital marketing, working with Skin Design Tattoo to educate and share his knowledge and experience.