Tattoo Redness on New and Old One: Is It Normal?

Wound healing, according to the Journal of International Medical Research, starts immediately after an injury. The tattoo is a wound too and it’s healing process starts immediately the artist finishes.

Redness is one of the healing stages and most people will attest to having the tattoo look red, swollen and inflamed when it is fresh. The little needle used to insert ink into the skin, punches into it a thousand times to create a huge wound, depending on its size. This will bruise the area for days before it heals.

The body naturally reacts to a wound by pumping blood to the area in large volumes, as it tries to supply the area with oxygen, nutrients and blood clotting cells. This aid in healing the wound quickly. This response by the body will happen immediately you get the tattoo, hence the redness and inflammation that is quite normal. The redness can remain for some time depending on how big it is. A small tattoo will be red for about one or two days while a big one will remain red and sore for about 7 or 10 days.

Redness around tattoo
Redness around it: is it normal


Redness around tattoo that is not normal

Even though redness around your tattoo is normal and should not worry you, sometimes if it persists, it can indicate a serious problem. Such instances require a checkup from either your artist or the doctor. swelling can be caused by several reasons including:


This is one of the main causes of redness. An infection occurs if one fails to take care of the tattoo properly. Failure to keep it clean and sterile will introduce bacteria to the area and cause infections.

To prevent this, follow instructions given by your artist on aftercare. Most artists recommend keeping the bandage on for 12 to 24 hours after it is done. Take the bandage off and use warm water and fragrance-free soap to clean the area. Use clean fingers to wash gently using circular motions. Pat it dry and allow it to dry out before applying moisturizer. Airing it prevents the area from trapping moisture that could harbor bacteria. Tattoo infections though rare can cause serious risks to your health.

It’s also important to note that healing time for tattoos is different for everyone and depends on many factors. Yours may just be taking some time before it heals. If the redness persists for more than 10 days see a doctor especially if it’s accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • The redness gets darker and more visible. Normally, it’s supposed to get lighter and fade with time gradually.
  • A stubborn rash develops from the redness that doesn’t go away.
  • Instead of fading away, the redness starts spreading to other parts surrounding the tattooed area.
  • It’s accompanied by pain that lasts for long.
  • The area remains red and warm to the touch for more than a week.

Allergic reactions

Your skin could be allergic to the ink or something else the tattooed area came into contact with. If this happens, the redness will turn into a deep red color in some people. Most of the colored inks cause reactions in some people but it’s rare to find it in black inks.

To ensure that your skin will not react to the ink, do a patch test before getting a huge one done. This should be done some days earlier before you get it done to avoid reactions.

Skin irritations

After your tattoo is done, the skin around it is very sensitive. It can be irritated by just about anything it encounters, including the tape used to hold the bandage in place.  Irritations cause redness and rashes.

Sometimes, the soap or lotion you use for aftercare can irritate the skin making it appear more red than usual. It’s advisable that one uses a mild soap that is fragrant free. Lotions or moisturizers should also be fragrant free.

Authority Tattoo recommends the use of specialized healing creams and lotions specifically created to aid the healing process. This is because elements or products used to make them are specifically made for the tattoo healing process. They will also cause fewer reactions even to people with sensitive skin. One of the recommended tattoo aftercare product is Hustle Butter.

If you decide to use an over the counter moisturizer, make sure it contains primary natural products and has no scents, artificial colors or preservatives. These products cause irritations to the tattoo.

Other aftercare products to use include natural oils or butter including coconut oil and cocoa butter.

Avoid using petroleum products like Vaseline on it since they are non-porous. This means that they are water and airtight. They will prevent oxygen, which is important for the healing process, from getting into the area.

Sun exposure

Direct sunlight can damage the ink on your tattoo and cause redness. This is because the UV rays tend to be harsh on open wounds, leading to inflammations and redness, if you expose the area for too long.

You can prevent this by staying out of direct sunlight during the healing stages of the tattoo. If you must be outside in the hot sun, apply sunscreen to the area.

Old tattoo is red

Sometimes, years after you had your tattoo done, it experiences redness. This is mostly caused by heat rash. The tattooed area will always be sensitive and overexposing it to the sun causes heat rash. The redness will, however, go away after some time.

Sometimes an allergy to the ink will take some time to show. The allergy will then cause redness or rashes to the area, years after the tattoo was done. Visit a doctor for an ointment or medication that can treat the infection and reduce redness.


Most tattoo redness cases are normal and should not worry you. However, if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, see a doctor.


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