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My Tattoo is Itchy: How to Stop an Itchy Tattoo

illustrated tattooed forearm with lightning bolts radiating the area

If you have a tattoo, you’ve probably had some itchy tattoo experiences. Unfortunately, itchy sensations on and around freshly tattooed skin are unavoidable. But don’t worry, if your tattoo itch is driving you crazy, we’re here to help.
 

Why Do Tattoos Itch? Is It Normal?illustrated lit light bulb icon on blue background

It is absolutely normal for tattooed skin to itch while healing, which may last weeks or months depending on the size and location of the tattoo. During this time, your new tattoo is essentially an open wound, which the body is working hard to heal and repair. This process is what allows your skin to lock in tattoo ink, but it’s also what causes itching. There are a few primary reasons a new tattoo might itch.

  • Peeling Skin: As your skin heals the thousands of tiny puncture wounds from your tattoo, the damaged outer layers will dry, flake, and fall off to be replaced by new, living skin. This dry skin may cause itching as it pulls at the living skin around it, similar to the itch of a peeling sunburn.
  • Scabbing: We’ve all had an itchy scab, and a healing tattoo is no different.
  • Hair Regrowth: Artists shave the skin they’ll be tattooing to prevent tattoo needles from getting caught, to reduce the risk of infection and ingrown hairs, and to keep hair from obstructing the ink’s path into the skin. However, as hair regrows during healing, it might cause itchiness.
  • Allergic Reaction: It’s not uncommon for skin to react to some of the metallic ingredients used in tattoo ink, which may cause it to itch. Luckily, the large majority of these reactions are minor and subside in a few days.
     

Can I Scratch My Itchy Tattoo?illustrated red "no" icon on yellow background

No! Do not scratch your healing tattoo, even if the itch is intense.

Scratching a new tattoo will prolong healing, damage the tattoo image, and increase the risk of infection. If you want your tattoo to heal correctly and remain clear for years to come, resist scratching and follow the suggestions below instead.
 

What To Do For an Itchy Tattooillustrated pump bottle and towel icon on blue background

The best defense against tattoo itch is good tattoo aftercare. Keep in mind that it’s not possible to stop a new tattoo from itching completely, but with patience, diligence, and some top-notch tattoo aftercare products you can definitely reduce and relieve itching.

  • Apply Moisturizer: Non-petroleum based skin moisturizers, like Recovery Tattoo Lotion, are your first line of defense against tattoo itch. They will help prevent dry, flaking skin from itching and provide nutrients to help your skin heal more quickly. Apply a thin layer of moisturizer to your tattoo (if it obscures the image, you’ve used too much) and dab off any excess with a clean, dry paper towel.
  • Pat, Don’t Scratch: If you’ve got an intense itch and can’t moisturize right then, lightly pat or tap your tattoo instead of scratching it. Those motions are less likely to tear away healing skin and damage your tattoo. You could also place a thick, clean cloth over your tattoo and gently rub the area through the barrier, shielding your skin from damage.
  • Cool It Off: Applying a damp, clean cloth to the itchy area for a few minutes should help alleviate the sensation.

With these tips, your new tattoo should heal correctly with minimal itching. Remember that our online store is your one-stop shop for all your tattoo aftercare needs, and for more articles and information about tattoos, tattoo products, and artists, visit our PainfulPleasures blog.