Got inked with a fresh new tattoo? Chances are, at some point soon, you’d feel like scratching the heck out of it. Guess what? You’re not alone! Tattoo itching is far more common than you think. Although tattoos are most likely to turn itchy while they’re fresh, tattoo itching can, however, occur at any stage of the healing process. You should never scratch a tattoo when it’s fresh and healing. If you’d like to know how to stop tattoo itching, you’ve landed on the right page. Scrolling through, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the topic, including how to stop tattoo itching.
What are the Causes of Tattoo Itching?
Before we delve into the actual causes of tattoo itchiness, one should understand that a new tattoo has damaged skin due to the needling process. That skin heals over a time referred to as the tattoo healing period. At some point during the healing stage, the tattoo may feel rather itchy. Scratching the itchy tattoo can lead to severe consequences, including damage to the tattoo and the surrounding skin.
Here’s an outline of the various causes of tattoo itchiness and the respective treatment options:
The Tattoo Healing Process
The primary reason a tattoo may itch occurs during its normal healing course. A healing tattoo undergoes a period of recovery from the wound. During that time, the inflamed skin undergoes a natural repairing process while defending itself from potential infections. Thus, it’s pretty standard to experience itchiness during the time the skin tissue heals.
Infection or Allergic Reaction
A fresh tattoo is exceptionally vulnerable to getting infected in the first week to two weeks of healing. That’s because the needling process exposes deep layers of the epidermis (upper layer) and dermis (middle layer) of skin tissues. An infection there causes itchiness and redness. If it’s severe, there may also be swelling and discharge accompanied by fever and perhaps chills. Also, it would be wise to make a trip to your doctor at that time.
Furthermore, the pigment used for the tattoo may cause an allergic reaction to some. Therefore, you may want to pay special cautionary attention to plastic pigment dyes. It would help if you had a word with your artist to learn what dye makes up the pigments intended for the tattoo. You may also want to discuss your skin type and whether you’ve had past inconveniences with certain tattoo inks. Finally, be wary of ink labeled ‘sterile’ and other contaminated inks, as they can cause severe problems to your skin and health.
Your Pre-existing Skin Conditions
Do you have any preexisting skin conditions? If you do, and they are along the lines of eczema or psoriasis, you may want to refrain from getting tattooed for good. Such candidates can get flare-ups anytime, so it’s best to check with your doctor routinely in any case.
If you think only new tattoos are susceptible to itching and infections, think again! There are certain conditions, including Sarcoidosis, wherein the autoimmune disorder causes older tattoos to be sometimes affected decades later. This condition may not be linked directly to tattoo ink; it nevertheless causes significant itching in old tattoos.
Sun Sensitivity & Allergy
If you’ve just gotten tattooed, you may develop an allergic reaction to the sun. The severity depends on the length of the direct exposure of your new tattoo to sunlight. The chances of this happening are highest immediately or within a couple of hours after getting inked.
That said, an allergic reaction to the sun may cause the following symptoms:
- itchy bumps
- hives on the skin
How to Stop Tattoo Itching – The Treatment Options
Treatment options depend on the specific cause of the itching. For example, if it’s a new tattoo, the treatment involves extra care not to affect the ink and design. Similarly, older tattoos should be treated tactfully, too.
That said, here are the popular treatment options:
1. Over-the counter (OTC) Ointments
Your new tattoos deserve protection and compassionate care during the natural healing process. Thus, OTC ointments and creams aren’t the go-to treatment at that stage. These products can interfere with the natural healing process of your skin. Instead, you can opt for topical hydrocortisone only to itchy, older tattoos.
2. Cool Compresses
If you’ve got new tattoos, it usually takes about two weeks for them to heal entirely. Request your doctor to permit you to go ahead with cool compresses. This technique can ease itchiness and reduce swelling.
Is your skin dry? If it is and you’re experiencing itchiness on your new tatt, then this calls for the treatment of applying a moisturizer. The rule of thumb here is to refrain from using products with colors and fragrances so that you don’t experience itchiness and infections. Thus, use only products that are fragrance-free and unscented. If the tattoo is old, then you’re better off moisturizing it with either a thick cocoa butter-based moisturizer or an oatmeal-based lotion.
4. Colloidal Oatmeal Baths
The above bathing session may sound like a lot of fun, but remember to keep this treatment option open for old tattoos only. Colloidal oatmeal baths are a boon for your itchy tattoo skin. You’ll get instant relief for your itchy skin around your older tattoos. You shouldn’t use this remedy for newer tattoos because new tattoos shouldn’t be submerged in water during the two-week healing window.
Also Read: 28 Cute and Delicate Wrist Tattoos for Women
Treatment Through Medication for Preexisting Skin Conditions
Is the reason for your itching tattoo a pre-existing skin condition (eczema, rosacea, psoriasis)? If that’s the case, your doctor will likely prescribe a topical cream. On the other hand, if you’ve got sarcoidosis, your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressants. Since pre-existing skin conditions need expert attention, the best guide is your doctor.
#1. Tattoo Removal
As mentioned earlier in this article, the pigment in ink can cause itchiness. If that’s the case, you can’t simply get it sucked out of your skin. This calls for intervention by a dermatologist to use methods like laser tattoo removal treatment, dermabrasion, or other techniques. However, please be mindful of such practices as they do carry risks. If your dermatologist is experienced and has a good track record, you can explore the opportunities for tattoo removal at your own will. One of the most significant risks involved is being left with a permanent scar.
To prevent sunlight related allergic reactions from happening, avoid directly exposing the tattoo to sunlight. Instead, keep the bandage on for a few hours after getting tattooed. If sun exposure can’t be avoided, at least keep your tattoo covered with a clean bandage or UPF-rated clothing during your time out.
Furthermore, once your tattoo heals entirely, further precaution should entail applying SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every time you head out. But always discuss the sunscreen options for your tattoo and skin category with your tattoo artist instead of picking one on your own.
#3. When to See a Doctor
Your skin health is vital to your overall health. Thus, you should know loud and clear when to visit a doctor in case of need. Here are some signs that you must visit your doctor for further advice:
- Your tattoo itching keeps getting worse
- The redness is increasing and becoming more severe
- There is discharge
- You’re experiencing scaling
- There is fever and chills
- The swelling is getting worse
- You find that there is no improvement even after a few weeks have past
This guide is purposed to shed light on how to stop tattoo itching. If you’ve got a brand new tattoo and you’ve begun feeling the urge to itch it, you’re not alone. This is a standard part of the healing process. The important rule to follow is to not give in to the urge to scratch the tattoo. Doing so can cause the tattoo ink and the design to get destroyed. The good news is that there are several treatments, each reliant on the cause of the itchiness. So, instead of worrying, you should be patient and apply the recommended remedy to stop the tattoo itching.
On that note, most importantly, if you feel or see more severity in the itching, you should immediately see your doctor for proper care. Signs like fever, chills, discharge, swelling, redness, and relentless itching are giveaways that there may be an underlying infection that needs urgent professional care. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to stop the spread and deter the advent of a more serious complication.