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How to Stop Your Tattoo Itching

Words by Adam Jolley
How to Stop Your Tattoo Itching

Tattoo itching? Don't worry, help is at hand.

Tattoo itching is an uncomfortable but pretty common experience during the healing process. In this guide we'll look at the causes of tattoo itching, how long it may last, and what you can do to relieve the itching sensation.

What is Tattoo Itching?

Tattoo itching refers to the urge to scratch or rub the skin surrounding a fresh or healed tattoo. It's a natural part of the healing process as the body repairs and regenerates the damaged skin. And the itching sensation can range from mild to intense aka "itching like crazy."

Why is My Tattoo Itching?

Several factors can contribute to tattoo itching. Firstly, during the healing process, the skin undergoes a series of phases, including scabbing, peeling, and regeneration. These stages can cause itching sensations. Additionally, the body's immune response to the tattoo ink, combined with the body's natural histamine release, can also contribute to itching.

How Long Will My Tattoo Itch?

The duration of tattoo itching varies from person to person. On average, it typically lasts between one to three weeks. However, it's important to note that each individual's healing process is unique, and some tattoos may itch for a shorter or longer period.

Woman applying tattoo aftercare cream

Moisturising regularly helps keep the skin hydrated, reducing dryness and itchiness

Why is My Tattoo Itching and Raised?

If your old tattoo is itching and appears raised, it could indicate an allergic reaction or infection. Allergic reactions to tattoo ink or the lotion used during aftercare can cause itching and redness. Infections, although less common, can also lead to increased itching, accompanied by swelling and pus. If you suspect an infection or severe allergic reaction, it's crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

How Do I Stop My Tattoo Itching?

To relive the itching on a new tattoo, there are a number of things you should do:

Avoid scratching: Although it may be tempting, scratching can damage the tattooed area and prolong the healing process. Instead, if you must, try patting or very gently tapping the itchy area to alleviate the sensation.

Keep the area clean: Wash your tattoo gently with mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water. This helps remove any irritants that may contribute to itching.

Moisturise regularly: Apply a thin layer of fragrance-free, hypoallergenic tattoo aftercare lotion or ointment recommended by your tattoo artist. Moisturising helps keep the skin hydrated, reducing dryness and itchiness. 

Use cold compresses: Applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth can provide temporary relief from itching. Remember to avoid direct contact between ice and the tattooed area.

Wear loose clothing: Opt for loose, breathable clothing to minimise friction and irritation on the tattooed skin. Tight clothing can make the itching worse.

The Originals Pack as a great help for you tattoo care routine, and you might also have a look at our full range of tattoo care products here.

Stories & Ink tattoo aftercare cream

The Stories & Ink Aftercare Cream is hypoallergenic, fragrance free, 100% vegan and cruelty free

Can I Slap My New Tattoo?

Slapping or hitting your tattoo is not recommended. "But it feels so good!" we hear you say. Yes, well, while it may provide momentary relief from itching, it can potentially damage the healing skin and lead to complications such as scarring or ink loss. So it's really best avoided if you can.

What Happens if I Scratch My Tattoo?

Scratching your tattoo can have a number of undersireable consequences. It may introduce bacteria, increase the risk of infection, cause scabbing, delay the healing process, and even affect the final appearance of your tattoo. Always resist the urge to scratch and follow proper aftercare guidelines.

What to Use on Your New Tattoo?

For a new tattoo, follow your tattoo artist's aftercare instructions. Typically, it involves gently washing the tattooed area with mild soap or cleanser, applying a thin layer of recommended tattoo aftercare lotion or ointment, and keeping the area clean and moisturised.

What to Use on Old Tattoos?

Old tattoos may occasionally itch due to dryness or environmental reasons such as a change in the weather. When it comes to old tattoos, proper care is essential to alleviate itching and maintain the tattoo's appearance.

To stop an old tattoo from itching, there are a couple of things you can try:

Avoid harsh chemicals: Stay away from scented lotions, perfumes, or products containing alcohol, as they can irritate the skin and exacerbate itching. Opt for gentle, non-irritating moisturisers and avoid any potential allergens.

Consider antihistamines: If your old tattoo itching is persistent and severe, you can consult a healthcare professional about taking over-the-counter antihistamines. These medications can help reduce itching caused by allergic reactions or histamine release.

Protect from sun exposure: Overexposure to the sun's UV rays can cause dryness and further irritate an old tattoo, leading to itching. Shield your tattooed skin with clothing or a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF when spending time outdoors.

Avoid scratching: As with new tattoos, resist the urge to scratch. Scratching can damage the skin, cause scabbing, and potentially impact the tattoo's appearance. Instead, try tapping or lightly massaging the itchy area to alleviate the sensation.

Moisturise: Dry skin can contribute to itching. Regularly moisturise your old tattoo using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic lotion or tattoo-specific moisturiser. Apply a thin layer and gently massage it into the skin to keep it hydrated.

Stories & Ink Daily Moisturiser

The Stories & Ink Daily Moisturiser keeps tattoos hydrated and is appropriate for all skin types

By following these guidelines, you can effectively manage and reduce itching on your old tattoo, promoting its overall health and longevity. Remember, if the itching persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, consult a dermatologist or tattoo artist for further guidance.

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