Itchy Tattoo: Causes, Severe, Relief and Removal

Is your tattoo so itchy and giving you a hard time? Let us explore some of the common causes including if cancer can cause itchiness. We will also discuss how they can be relieved or treated including removal when necessary.

Despite the joy of having them, we must always bear in mind that having one may come with different shocking side effects. For instance, it will be very bothersome when your tattoo itches intensely despite the many things you try to soothe it.

Mild itching can be normal as it repairs but you must be very keen on severe cases, this can be a sign of a serious infection or different problem. Let begin by looking at the causes of tattoo itching.

Raised itchy tattoo
Why is it raised and so itchy?



Having an itchy tattoo during its healing period can just be usual, but cases, where the itching is severe and persistent even before it heals, can convey a certain message – it may have been infected or there may be having serious body allergic reaction. So below are the major causes before or after healing.

1. Allergic reactions

Most tattoo allergic reactions are mild and sometimes don’t require any medical treatment. The relief of such itching can be hastened by the use of some common home products e.g. aloe vera. Occasionally, severe situations like anaphylactic shock can occur during the or immediately after the process. Such cases requires immediate medical attention from a doctor and not tattoo artist.

Many people do think that allergic reaction to the ink used is always the route of this problem but possibly this is the least likely to be the situation. It has several other causes other than an allergic reaction. However, it also beneficial to understand that allergic reaction to ink can and do happen sometimes.

These allergic reactions are most common with red and yellow ink or generally colors that contain red or yellow. We should note that fact. They can as well occur years later.

An ink allergy will tend to be itchy and raised in spots of specific colors. They are in many cases likely to lead to constant irritations that take time before they vanish. So for such cases, topical ointments made for the allergic reaction may assist to relieve the mild irritations. Some cases will require a prescription for drugs or even tattoo removal for terrible cases.

2. Peeling Skin

During healing process may lead to extreme itching. The skin will also probably become more sensitive due the process and ink.  Do not scratch itchy areas as this will worsen the situation. It can also lead to open sores that can attract infection.

3. Growth of Shaven Hair

Normally, before a tattoo artist begins the process, he/she will first shave the area involved. This is to help prevent the needles from getting caught in the hairs on the area. This can also prevent hair from being pushed back into the skin by the needle.

This is a very critical during the process due to the fact that hairs pushed down into the skin could cause infection because of resulting ingrown hairs. Again, by the time these hairs will be trying to rise back onto the skin surface, they might push out some ink leading to patchy healing.

When the shaven hair will start to emerge again, one can possibly experience some itchiness.

4. Existent skin conditions

An alternative factor that can cause this issue is the existence of skin conditions. Skin condition sometimes may exist without your knowledge; they may only manifest themselves upon having your tattoo.

After the process, the skin may become very sensitive making any hidden skin condition to get unmasked. Some of the skin conditions may include eczema and psoriasis. When any new symptom arises you should bring the same to your dermatologist`s attention.

5. Body chemistry

It is very important to note that, changes in your body will affect the external parts of your body too. Some changes in your body e.g. increased adrenaline, change in your body temperature, increased blood pressure will potentially affect your tattoo especially during the healing stages.

Increased temperature and humidity, for example, can cause it to swell slightly and this will a bit stretch the skin leading to itching. Therefore, it would be ideal to avoid various activities that would lead to the mentioned body changes.

Occasionally, weather variations can lead to these body changes, which will, therefore, trigger consistent irritation. Nevertheless, the influence of weather on a tattoo will vary from one person to another.

Severe itching, bumps or infection

Infection can be another cause. Kindly note that in cases where the itching is severe, bumps or infections can develop, so what you need to do in such situations is to get the medicinal attention of your dermatologist as immediate as possible. Do not seek any medical service from the tattoo artist in such severe circumstances.

Itchy after years

It is important to understand that healing occurs in stages. There is no specific healing period. The period your tattoo will take to heal will depend on after-care strategies you put in place. It will also depend on whether it is infected or not. The healing process can, therefore, range from weeks to two months to one year.

In cases where itchiness is experienced after several years, then that will be an issue of concern. This may be triggered by any of the causes we have seen including cancer which we are going to discuss afterword. Sometimes this may be accompanied with bumps.

If it is after years, it is recommended you see your doctor be certain whether it is caused by something serious or not. Sometimes in severe cases, itchy tattoo removal can also help.

Tattoo Itching and cancer

As we have indicated before, this problem can develop due to infections, sometimes the itching may be due to cancer.­ The ink contains benzopyrene, nanoparticles and other cancer-inducing components.

Some studies have shown that the inks contained cancer-causing chemicals that damage collagen, which is a vital protein that forms approximately 30% of the protein content of the human body.

Collagen is a foundation for connective tissue that holds us together. So whenever itchings stay for several months after leaving the studio or after it has healed, see your doctor for further checkup.

Generally, there is a link between having a tattoo and cancer, the development of itching can, therefore, signify the cancer problem. However, this is very rare.

Relief and removal

A fact that many people have to know is that all tattoos have a reaction. This will make the site to be a bit inflamed, form a scab or even sometimes shed fluid.

During the healing process, the wound should be treated just like any other wound. Cases, where itchy tattoo develops after healing, have also been reported. So under this section, we are going to discuss some of the possible relief and remedies.

Care when it is itchy

Before we proceed to the relief and remedies, let us explore some of the tips on how to deal with itchiness:

  • Don’t ever scratch your new one to prevent some of the infections
  • Make sure that you always use approved aftercare products and follow the manufacturer instructions to the latter
  • You should take a short warm shower during the healing period.
  • You should avoid swimming, this would help you to avoid too much water on it.

Instant relief

Keeping your skin well hydrated will help you to keep it secure from potential infections. In addition, it will be a pretty good remedy to help hasten the relief of itching. So here are some simple-to-apply relief preferences you can try at home.

a. Diverting your attention

Trying to engage yourself in other things will divert your attention from this conditions. It will help to keep your mind off the itchy feeling. This can be attained by engaging in some activities like chewing gum, typing, playing a video game or musical instruments, crocheting or knitting, running or playing football for fun and even visiting social media.

This is due to the fact that passive and physical nature will help keep your brain engaged. So engaging in other activities will help divert your brain hence the itching can be assumed.

b. Try patting the area

Sometimes there are cases where trying to divert your attention may not work and there may be that urge to scratch the area. Remember that scratching of the area may lead to infections so patting the area could be employed instead.

It is advised that patting should be done over a clean piece of cloth to avoid infections as well. Note that direct hand contact the area should be also avoided. You will relieve the itching by patting the area. The skin around the area will be as well soothed.

c. Application of the ice

This is a very simple home remedy. Since ice is a numbing agent, it can be used to stop tattoo itch. However, we should remember that the use of ice will only help to stop it and pain temporarily.

The ice should be wrapped in a towel (should be placed in Ziploc) and then applied. Direct contact with the ice and the tattoo is somewhat risky even after it healed because it can lead to frostbites. The wrapped ice should be held on the itchy spot for up to around 10 minutes and the process should be repeated as frequently as the situation may demand.

Conversely, you can put a wet washcloth in a freezer for some few minute and then apply it on the affected area.

d. Use of over the counter products (creams and lotions)

When it is still in its inflammation phase of the healing process, itching relief can be enhanced by the use of some over the counter anti-bacterial ointments. A good tattooist will recommend one for you. Through the application of such products, your skin will be soothed and infections will be prevented.

At some points during the healing process, your skin will start to become dry, so you will be required to replace the ointment with some lotions. Lotions will enhance your skin hydration hence the dead skin around your tattoo will be lubricated and therefore come off smoothly with no itching or pain.

Tattoo removal – a rising business 

Not all tattoos are created equal and not all of them are remembered fondly. A large number barely survive being sober. However, others lose favor because of different reasons from heartbreak to tragedy or simply by wanting to grow up and get a proper job or settle down without a partner being reminded of an ex. Whatever the reason, the once thought permanent is now changeable and removable.

The rise of removals is not surprising because tattoos are at their most popular. Something once associated with gangs and criminals is not linked to popular culture. Thanks to this rise there is naturally more buyers remorse and a greater investment in technology to remove or cover over them. Now surgery is not always needed and there are other ways to dull and remove unwanted inkings.

Business reports suggest that the removal industry is on the rise. By 2015, over 8,000 companies offered these services and this aspect of the tattoo sector alone is thought to be growing toward $83 million in value by 2018. With the business booming it means there are not only opportunities for ventures, but more of a chance for those who wish to remove these permanent body arts. To find out more, read more here about the tattoo removal business.

Removal processes

In severe cases where the itching is persistent due to serious infection or otherwise, your doctor may recommend it be removed. There are several ways of tattoo removal including some home-based procedures but these can take quite long before it disappears. So let us explore some removal procedures.

a. Laser tattoo removal

In this method, the lasers are used to separate and fade the ink on the site. Different kinds of lasers can be used but we must note that some will be more effective than others. Some tattoo inks contain some colors that the lasers may not get rid of in one session, in this case, your clinician will advise you about the number of sessions you should attend. Though lasers cannot be 100% effective, it is considered more effective and least painful removal procedure.

b. Surgical method

This method involves numbing the area before your surgeon could begin cutting out minor sections of your tattoo. During the whole process, your surgeon will be cutting small sections and he or she will remove each section once the previous section has healed. The duration of the process will depend upon its size-the smaller it is, the faster the process.

c. Tattoo removal creams

There are several available creams for tattoo removal, but before you could jump into the application of these creams, you should consult professional medical officer to help you define the best cream for your case. Sometimes you may find yourself into a situation where your tattoo has some inks that cannot be totally removed. Some creams can also be injected in the tattoo area. They will force the ink to come to the surface, scab and then drop off.

Apart from the above removal procedures, there are other procedures that could be used t but what is crucial is to contact your doctor to determine the best procedure for your removal because the above removal techniques will have their variant benefits and side-effects.


What we should comprehend is that itching tattoo after the first few weeks may be just usual and should not trouble us.  Persistent cases could have a message of potential infections no matter when it occurs after the process. Another case is when it starts to itch after it had healed-this too can be a sign of infection. So we should be very responsive with itching and keep close contact with our medical professionals.

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