Your new tattoo is peeling. Now you know what it feels like to be a snake. Only you’re itchy, uncomfortable and your new ink looks downright gruesome.
Not to worry, the process happens to everyone from first timers to ink veterans with years of experience under the gun.
For men, it’s a lot like growing a beard. At first your beard look awful, it’s patchy, spotty and plus it itches like crazy. Those sharp ended beard hairs poke right back into the skin for the few week or two. Within time, your beard looks great, it’s filled in and the itching is completely gone!
A tattoo is no different, only we’re talking about a flesh wound here. You still experience the itch as your skin flakes off and may be a little intimidated by the not so pleasant appearance. Even though it looks bad and feels bad, doesn’t exactly mean it’s all bad.
In fact, it’s a good thing! In reality, it’s all a part of the natural healing process. You should be happy to know that you’re on the right track with your new ink. Sure the color peeling off can add a sense of worry, but sometimes you can’t just let your eyes fool you.
Today, I’m going to help you discover what’s really going on when your tattoo peels, plus give you great tips on how to deal with the itching and more. From start to finish, I’ll cover everything you need to know about this stage.
When does peeling start?
Regardless if you’ve been following the wash, dry, ointment routine religiously, your flaking stage may come sooner or later than others.
Remember, we all have different bodies, genetics, etc. For some flaking starts early at a mere two days, for others it can take up four days or even a full week to begin.
It will eventually happen; soon enough you’ll be seeing what looks like Fruity Pebbles shedding everywhere. Be patient while your epidermis does its thing.
Your epidermis is exfoliating
You are literally shedding off your skin during this healing stage. You do it daily, often without even realizing it in the form of millions of skin cells. Only this time to flakes are noticeable in size and their being carried away some color too. It’s hard to miss and truth be told, it freaks a lot of people out the first time.
However, not to worry. All your tattoo ink is resting safely deeply under the dermis, it won’t fall out or flake off. It’s just that top coat that fools our eyes in believing something is wrong when it’s really not.
It looks bad, real bad.
While the whitish, flakes and cracking skin appear unsightly and downright awful, you can actually think of them as a good thing. In reality, this is exactly how the skin naturally heals itself.
In the meantime, applying lotion will more than just help to keep your skin moisturized and less itchy, it will also improve the immediate appearance of your tattoo. Sure, it’s only temporary as the skin will continue to peel, however if you need to look your best on short notice, lotion helps considerably.
Your skin is like a desert. It’s itchy and super dry.
During the peeling process you must continually moisturize your skin; I cannot stress this enough. You must keep the wound moist.
It will feel a lot like a bad sunburn, and with it often comes the annoying itching too.
Lotion will be your best friend during this stage. It should be applied three days after you remove your bandage for the first time. Remember, during those first 3 days, wash, dry and ointment should be all that you’re doing.
When you put down the ointment and finally switch to lotion, you’ll want to continually apply it daily for the next 25 days. Do so two to three times per day.
Itching that’s too intense:
You have a few options at your disposal. First, you can simply slap it gently and lightly. Yes, I know it sounds incredibly silly but more than often it works! Try it. Secondly, go ahead and take some Benadryl to calm the intense itching sensation. Lastly, as a final resort hydrocortisone cream can pretty much guarantee elimination of most if not all, itching.
Just know that it’s really not something you want to reach for immediately if you’re just slightly annoyed with the itchiness. Not to mention, read the instructions please, it should never be used long term or on a frequent basis. Limit your usage of it to a minimum when possible.
The laws of lotion
Awhile ago I put together a collection of the top 9 best tattoo lotion for men, it’s worth reading. (Women included)
However, there’s more to lotion than just picking out the right one.
During the peeling stage it’s important to only apply what your skin requires. This means tiny dabs of lotion or moisturizer as needed. Never over apply it or glob it on like a monster, that’s crazy. When you do that you’ll end up with clogged pores among other issues you don’t want to deal with.
My tattoo is scabbing
Relax, if you’re scabbing and you’ve followed proper tattoo aftercare it doesn’t always mean you did something wrong. For some people their bodies will scab regardless of what they do; it’s literally unavoidable.
When this happens, just remember two things: Keep your scabs moisturized and never pick at them!
Within 2 weeks you’ll see most if not all of them starting to come off naturally. If you try to rush this process you’ll damage your ink, often with light spots all over your new tattoo. Please don’t do that, regardless of how tempting it is.
Trust me, they will fall off own their own. They don’t need your assistance, as much as you want to help.
You might also enjoy knowing that more than often, the last scabs that fall off are usually in spots where the heaviest ink has been laid.
After peeling 101
You’re flake free, finally!
At this point, you’re new tattoo will have changed from a peeling flaky mess into a shiny and waxy tone. However, this doesn’t mean the healing process is over, you still have a good two to four weeks left to go.
During that time period you’ll want to keep applying lotion. Though, how often you apply it really depends on your how overly dry your skin becomes. Just ensure that your nourishing your skin with plenty of moisture when it needs it.
Remember, even thought it looks sort of healed, your skin still has no UV ray protection. That means no sun exposure; it will fade your tattoo. If you have any colors like yellow, white, orange, etc they will dramatically lose their vividness if you don’t care for your ink properly. Even black ink will fade if you spend enough time out in the sun.
Some believe they can apply sun block and sort of bypass the healing process. It just doesn’t work like that! Your skin is no longer abraded or exposed, yet it’s still going to be incredibly sensitive to the sunlight, regardless if you use sun bock or not.
Another thing to consider is that you may still have what feels like overly tight or even tense skin. For some it’s really uncomfortable, but there’s a surefire way to care for it. Instead of applying lotion try a little cocoa butter, it will often do wonders for you.