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How To Treat Pimples On Tattoo

How To Properly Care For A Peeling Tattoo


Isabelle has been contributing to Byrdie since 2020. She has worked in digital media for over five years and is an expert on a range of topics, including tattoos, piercings, and culture. Her work can be seen across the web on Backstage Magazine, Merry Jane, Vulture, and more.


Whether youve just gotten your first tattoo or have two complete sleeves, you may have noticed that the skin around your new ink begins to flake and peel off during the healing process. It can be alarming to see chunks of pigment pull away from its permanent placement on your skin, but dont fretthe peeling of tattoos is not only normal, its a sign that your new ink is properly healing.

So why exactly do tattoos peel, and is there any way to avoid it? Read on to find out everything you need to know on how to care for a peeling tattoo.

Are These Actually Pimples Or Something Else Entirely

Identifying a lesion or bump formed in your tattoo is very important. You might have something entirely different from an otherwise harmless pimple.

Many possible skin disorders commonly appear on tattoos that may be mistaken as pimples.

Here are possible skin irritations on tattoos that may resemble a pimple:

The Little Bump On Tattoo

Tattooing as a form of body art is increasing in popularity, especially among young adults. According to the American Academy of Dermatology experts, the ink used in tattooing has dramatically changed over the years.

The current form of tattoo used can lead to complications such as infections and allergic reactions. This will, in turn, lead to the formation of a painful little bump on or around the tattoo.

Allergic reaction, as mentioned, is one of the common complications associated with tattooing your skin. It could lead to the formation of itchy bumps and rash around the tattoo. In people with a skin condition such as eczema and psoriasis, an allergic reaction to tattooing ink could lead to flare upâs of these conditions.

Another possible complication is skin cancer. According to Dr. Michi Shinohara, skin cancer can occur within a tattoo. For this reason, he warns that tattoo experts need to be careful not to place a tattoo over an existing mole.

The little bumps on the tattoo can also be a result of skin infection that occurs as a result of poor aftercare of a new tattoo.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following to minimize skin reaction from a tattoo:

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Using Too Much Skincare Products

Applying too much lotion and other skincare products on skin before the tattoo heal can lead to an infection. Though tattoo professional recommends a good moisturizer or a specialized healing lotion for a new tattoo, adding too much and smothering the tattoo can cause a few issues such as rashes and white bumps to appear around a tattoo.

Causes Of Tattoo Infection

Tattoo bumps... got the tattoo almost a year ago and within the past 2 ...

What causes a new tattoo to heal badly? The cause will determine the type of problem you will experience on your skin. Some people complain of inflammation or redness on their ink-marks while others can complain of green pus. Some tattoo infections heal or wont go away even after two weeks and can last for months. Here are the various causes of tattoo infections you should consider before visiting the studio for body art.

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Can You Get Tattoos Over Keratosis Pilaris

In short, no it does not. Despite the difference in feel and appearance keratosis pillars is considered to be a variant of normal skin that does not require a cure or intervention. For this reason you can absolutely get a tattoo on it, but the considerations for tattooing over a scar apply here as well.

Pimples And Bumps On Tattoos

Another sign of infection is a pimple or a bump, or something that looks like a zit on your tattoo. The American Academy of Dermatology says that rashes and bumps are symptoms of complications from tattoo ink. It is highly unlikely for people to get pimples on new body art, but if theres a problem on it, you are likely to get bumps, rashes and pimples.

Rash on tattoo

If you get a pimple, make sure you do not pick or scratch it. Scratching will damage the ink and ruin your tattoo. Acne pimples can also recur if your skin is acne-prone, so try not to pick on the zits that form.

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What Causes A Bump On The Tattoo

As mentioned, not all tattoo heal in the same way. It is not uncommon for some people to develop painful, small, and itchy bumps around the tattoo just after having it. For some people, the tattoo might heal properly, then develop the bumps later. So what could cause your tattoo to develop these bumps?

What you need to understand is that it is quite normal for a new or old tattoo to feel and look bumpy. This is especially common in parts where there is bold outlining. According to a professional tattoo artist, this is completely natural. It is what the body does as it tries to heal over the area where the tattoo needles caused trauma to the skin.

For the old or new tattoo, bump on the tattoo can be caused by any of the following:

Your Ointment Or Lotion

Pimples/ Acne over the Tattoo | Tattoo Hygiene process| Ep-32 | Ft. Suresh Machu

This is the number one cause for pimples on tattoos and often happens to people who are trying to use ointment on their new tattoo. If you are unfamiliar with properly washing your tattoo and just how much moisturizer to put on top, you may be blocking oxygen from reaching your wound and the excess lotion may be becoming blocked in the epidermis.

Its important that when you apply any moisturizer or ointment that you are sure to wash off the remnants of whatever you used prior. Putting ointment on top of ointment is a recipe for disaster. In addition, moisturizer should be applied in thin layers and any excess should be wiped off.

Unless you are really experiencing high levels of pain and irritation, ointment can be avoided during the first few days of healing. It is often the blockage of the wound that causes a reaction with pimples. Some bodies cannot handle ointment brought into the aftercare regimen on day one, so perhaps this is the reason for your breakout, as well.

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How Long Does Tattoo Rash Last

After getting a new tattoo, your skin needs some time to heal and also to adjust to the foreign particles present in tattoo ink. Your tattoo artist is the best person to advise on post tattooing care and recovery period.

A mild to moderate tattoo rash should clear up in a week or two. If your rashes last longer than that, maybe it is time to see a doctor.

Also, some scarring or swelling of the tattoo area while it is healing is quite normal. If it disappears in a week and does not return, you wont need to worry about it. Taking good care of your skin during this phase should help.

Wrapping Up

You have to gather a lot of courage and go through some pain to get tattooed. However, in some cases, adverse reactions like a tattoo rash can happen. While this may occur due to varied reasons, you should research well before getting inked. Also, do take good care of your tattoo once it is done. Always consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.

When Should You See Your Tattoo Artist Or Doctor

If you are worried about the post-tattoo rash and the associated pain, swelling, and/or oozing, visit your tattoo artist first. Talk to them about your symptoms so that you have a clear understanding of the kind of ink that they have used and the steps that they have undertaken while doing the tattoo. Make sure to take notes to get the specifics right.

Once you have all the information, visit your doctor right away and communicate to them all the information you just gathered. The little details will help your doctor to understand what might have caused the rash and recommend the right treatment option.

If you are wondering about how long the allergic reaction is likely to last, keep reading.

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How Pimples Can Affect Old Tattoos

Although older tattoos are no longer considered open wounds, tattooed skin is still extremely delicate.

Its best to not pick or pop any pimples that have developed. Even if the pimple has formed far above the ink deposits, picking can still lead to visible scarring. Infection is also still possible.

  • Dont pick, pop, or scratch the affected area.
  • Make sure you use products free of fragrance and other additives.
  • Gently rub the product into your skin in small, circular motions. Scrubbing may damage the skin.

It doesnt matter how old or how fresh your tattoo is: You should avoid picking, popping, and scratching at all costs.

You should continue to follow any aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. This likely includes daily cleansing and moisturizing.

Cleansing helps remove the dirt and oil that can clog pores and lead to pimples. It can also strip natural moisture from your skin, so its important to follow up with a fragrance-free moisturizer. This will help keep your skin balanced and hydrated.

If you dont moisturize, your skin may overcompensate by creating more oil. This can clog your pores and perpetuate your cycle of breakouts.

You shouldnt use acne-fighting products on your tattoo without clearing their use with your tattoo artist. Although salicylic acid and other ingredients could heal your pimple, they may damage your tattoo in the process. Depending on the product used, you may be left with spotty colors or unexpected fading.

Pimple On Tattoo: Is It Safe To Pop Or Treat

I Have Bumps On My Tattoo And It Itches

If pimples appeared on a tattoo, it can cause not only negative emotions from its appearance, but often a feeling of discomfort from the accompanying itching. But most importantly, their appearance indicates that there is some kind of problem, which in most cases should be eliminated. Lets find out the main causes of their appearance. And also briefly consider the treatment of acne on the tattoo. Pimple on Tattoo: Is It Safe to Pop or Treat?

Causes of acne on a new tattoo

Causes of pimples on an old tattoo

If pimples appeared on an old tattoo, the reasons for such an annoying condition are the same as those discussed above for new tattoos. That is, it can be allergies, irritation, acne. Infection is unlikely, only if there were small wounds on the pigmented skin, through which dirt or dangerous bacteria got. There is also a good chance that the acne on the tattoo was caused by exposure to ultraviolet light. The tattooed area of the skin will be sensitive to sunlight for many years after the tattoo is printed.

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What Tattoo Pimples May Mean

Developing a pimple on a tattoo does not necessarily indicate that the tattoo is infected. For example, people who have acne-prone skin may develop pimples on their tattoo as a result of excess sebum production.

Tattoo pimples may develop when a person applies too much ointment to their tattoo, or if they have an allergy to the ingredients inside their ointment.

Effect Of Pimples On Tattoo

In most cases, pimples do not cause any major damage to tattoos because they mostly appear above the area where the tattoo ink is present. However, the risk of bacterial infection increases when you pop or pick a pimple. The infectious agents on the surface of the new tattoo cause redness of the area, skin infection, and more pimples on the tattoo.

Moreover, squeezing a pimple especially on a new tattoo creates open scars and displaces the unsettled ink. It not only ruins the appearance of the tattoo to some extent but also results in discoloration of that area. So, we can say that popping a pimple can damage the art and creates scars and patches.

After getting pimples on a tattoo, it is necessary to find the best remedies to treat the pimples in a way that does not cause damage to the tattoo. Here we have listed some important points that will help you to effectively get rid of tattoo pimples.

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Apply A Cool Compress

Blisters burn, so the easiest way to get instant relief is to apply a cool compress to the area. Remember that a cold compress or ice should never be applied directly onto your new tattoo, and never for more than 20 minutes at a time. Remember to pat your tattoo dry after every session.

For more information, check out our article, Should You Ice A New Tattoo? – Safety Tips For Swollen Ink.

Tattoo Acne: How To Treat It And Avoid It

Can you get tattooed on an area with acne?CLIP from The Tat Chat (10)

Tattoo Acne: How To Treat It And Avoid It

After enduring several uncomfortable hours, youve finally got it done! A beautiful piece of art to proudly show off on your skin. But while youre doing your best to follow your tattoo artists aftercare instruction, a pimple begins to show up as your skin heals.

Now youre worried! Will this affect your healing process? Mess up your tattoos colours? Will it leave a bump on your tattoo?

Dont worry, weve got you covered! In this article, we will be explaining what causes tattoo acne, the various ways you can treat acne on both fresh and old tattoos, and how to prevent tattoo acne from happening.

Tattooing & What Causes Acne On Tattooed Skin

In order to create that beautiful piece of art, a tattoo machine rapidly injects ink below the surface of your skin and forms multiple puncture wounds. While redness, tenderness and itchy skin will fade as your skin heals, you might see pimples developing on your tattoo.

Given that fresh tattoos are practically open wounds, theyre more susceptible to breakouts and irritation. If you are acne-prone, you might even develop pimples on fully-healed older tattoos.

While pimples on your new tattoo wont cause any damage, careful treatment is required to ensure that both your pimple is treated and your art is not ruined.

How To Treat Tattoo Acne

How you treat your tattoo acne will depend on how old the tattoo is.

Here are some treatments to treat pimples on fully-healed tattoos:

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When Should I Start To Worry

If you have foolishly picked at your pimples, or they havent started to clear up within a week or so, then talk to you artist in the first instance, and if the outbreak is getting worse, then see your doctor or a dermatologist.

If you have pimple outbreaks on older tattoos, or even on tattoos that have been on your body for many years, then you should see your doctor or dermatologist.

But these situations are extremely rare, and for most of you, if you follow our advice about getting your tattoo done in a good hygienic studio such as ALL DAY Tattoo, and you follow the simple guidelines above, as well as your artists aftercare instructions, then worst that may happen is a few pimples for a week or so.

If you are worried about tattoo pimples or have any other concerns about your planned tattoo, why not click the button below and arrange your free, no-obligation consultation at ALL DAY Tattoo.

We will be only too happy to go through every aspect of the tattoo process. We will answer all your questions and hopefully reassure you on any concerns you may have. We look forward to seeing you soon.

What About Older Tattoos

The advice for spots and pimples on older tattoos is much the same as above, except that your tattooed skin will generally be less sensitive and delicate as time goes on, meaning that it should be a bit more durable against various skin conditions such as acne and common infection.

However, its still best to refrain from popping any pimples in the area just to be safe, and in order to completely minimize the risk of potentially causing an infection around the tattoo.

Its still also advisable to stay away from harsh chemicals, even when your tattoo is well-aged. This is because these products can still cause irritation to the area , and can actually cause the tattoo to fade over time if applied regularly.

If your acne over the tattoo is moderate and stubborn instead of using a cream, explain the situation to your Board Certified Dermatologist as they will be able to provide advice for your acne without harming the appearance of your tattoo.

Important Tattoo Aftercare Steps You Must Ensure You Take

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Infected Tattoo Symptoms And Signs

When you know how to tell a tattoo is infected, you can quickly and easily start the treatment process or remedies to heal it fast before the infection spreads. You should be keen on symptoms such as bumps, abscesses, bleeding, pus drainage, blisters and sometimes fever. We have discussed these infected tattoo symptoms and signs below.

Why Do I Get Pimples On My Tattoo

White Pimples On New Tattoo

Pimples can grow on tattoos, too, as spots grow anywhere.

Freshly tattooed skin is very delicate and prone to any kind of skin issue. Its why proper care and hygiene are important for tattoos.

Tattoos invite different forms of irritation, and pimples are no exception. This is because of the trauma that the needle causes to the skin. The penetration of the needle into your skin is about 50 to 3000 times per minute, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

Zits can also pop out in old tattoos from time to time, as old tattoos are still considered modifications to the skin. Thus, the skins integrity is already compromised.

Nevertheless, this possibility varies from person to person as it depends on the bodys hormone production.

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