Causes of an itchy tattoo

A tattoo is the most susceptible to itching when it’s new. However, it could happen at any time during your healing. If you have an entirely new tattoo, your skin is damaged by ink and needles, which may cause itching at specific points.

However, regardless of the reason, you should not scratch your tattoo, mainly when it’s brand new and still healing. This could result in severe damage to the tattoo and the skin around it.

Please find out more about the various causes of itchy tattoos and how you can take care of them without giving in to the desire to scratch.

The causes of itching tattoo

Itchyness is more prevalent in new tattoos. However it is also seen in older tattoos too. Itchy tattoos can result from one or several of the causes listed below.

Normal healing process

If you have an anew tattoo, the skin is healing from the wound. The skin is inflamed, fighting infections and also repairing itself. As the tissues of the skin heal, you’ll likely be irritable.


A new tattoo exposes the skin’s tissues’ deeper layers of the epidermis (upper layer) and dermis (middle layer). The new tattoo is the most likely to become affected during the initial few weeks of healing.

If the area is infected, you may notice itching, swelling, redness,, and discharge. Severe infections can trigger chills and fever. A bacterial infection is likely to need a visit from a doctor.

Allergy reaction to the pigment

Certain people experience an allergy to the actual ink used for tattooing. Tattoo pigments can be created of dyes made of plastics. Based on the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), an allergic reaction could be experienced immediately or some years after you’ve received the tattoo. This means that you may experience severe itching, redness, and bumps resembling hives.

Ink contamination

Apart from the allergic reactions that can occur from tattoos ink, it’s possible to suffer from symptoms resulting from the ink used for tattoos that have been contaminated. It can be at risk even though the ink is marked “sterile,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)Trusted Source.

Skin conditions preexisting

If you’re suffering from a previous skin problem, like eczema or Psoriasis may not be the most suitable person to have tattoos. It is also possible to experience flare-ups after having received an ink tattoo. This could cause itchy, red patches on the skin on any part of your body, and a tattooed skin area is not an exception. Find out more about tattoo safety if you have Psoriasis.


Sarcoidosis is an illness that affects older tattoos. This condition that causes autoimmune disease can manifest several decades later and may even cause organs to become damaged, as per the AAD. While it’s not directly connected to tattoo inks, Sarcoidosis has been known to cause severe itching and inflammation of older tattoos.

Reactions to MRI

Doctors can request magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to identify specific health issues. Although it is uncommon, the FDATrusted source has seen reports of MRI scans affecting old tattoos. The symptoms can include itching along with swelling. The symptoms tend to disappear in their own time within a short time, without medical intervention.

Treatment of an itchy tattoo

The root causes determine the best solution for a painful tattoo. New tattoos are particularly susceptible to infection and damage. Consequently, extreme care must be taken to ensure that you don’t cause damage to the ink or the surrounding skin. Tattoos older than a year may be prone to damage caused by the skin in a few instances.

OTC creams and Ointments

As a general rule, it is not recommended to apply OTC (OTC) lotions or creams on tattoos since they can inhibit the natural healing process of your skin. However, you can use the topical hydrocortisone on an itchy old tattoo.

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