Itching is a common problem during a tattoo healing process. It can go on for weeks, and the irritating part is that the area should not be scratched.
It does not affect everyone who gets inked though.
Does that mean having an itchy tattoo means you have done something wrong? No. However, there is some itchiness that is not normal.
If there are lumps around or on the inked site, this is a danger sign. The same goes if you have itchy, red bumps.
They signify an infection, and you should go to the doctor as soon as possible.
Why do tattoos itch?
After the area is inked, it is going to be an open wound. For the first week, it should have formed a scab which is shed over time. Basically, this is dead skin, and it is during this time itching starts. The causes of itching include
a) Tickly peeling skin
This is the main reason for the horrid itchiness. The skin that is peeling partially comes from an area that is already sensitive. The loose skin rubs and tickles on other areas as it moves around.
b) Regrowth of the shaved hairs
Prior to tattooing, the site will be shaved to prevent the needle from getting caught in the hair; this can be pretty painful. The shaving also prevents the hair from being pushed into the skin because this can result in localized infection due to ingrown hairs. If this happens, the hair will push out the ink as it makes its way on the surface, and the site will heal in patches.
c) Allergic reactions
Some people react to the ink used in the tattooing process. However, most of the reactions are mild and they resolve after several days. The reactions can cause skin irritation which is why the area will be itchy. It can be severe or mild.
Red ink is the main cause of the itchiness. There are metals used in its production which are not in the other colors.
d) Skin conditions
If you have a skin condition that is dormant, it can be triggered by tattooing. The inking process makes the skin more sensitive hence exposing the conditions which were previously hidden.
The conditions can range from eczema to psoriasis. If you have concerns, see a doctor before you proceed with the inking process.
What to Do When the Tattoo Itches
Just like any kind of skin itch, an itchy tattoo can be dealt with in a number of ways, all which are much better than scratching. As much as the itchiness can drive you crazy, the tips outlined below can help you relieve the discomfort and sail through the healing process without much fuss.
i) Apply a moisturizer
A dry skin causes itchiness because the loose dead cells will shift hence tickling the sensitive tattooed site. A moisturizing lotion can prevent this from happening. However, you should not overdo to because the area needs proper air circulation for faster healing.
Excess lotion can be removed with a paper towel. Do not wipe it off but rather dab it gently. Get good recommendations on the best lotions to use from your artist.
ii) Part, tap or slap the area gently
This prevents dragging any skin on the service and dulls the itchiness. Wash your hands before this to avoid transferring harmful microorganism to the site.
iii) Take a bath
Showering will change the chemistry of the area temporarily, which can stop the itchiness for some time. After the shower, pat the site with a paper towel. Your bath towel shouldn’t be used unless it is dry. After the drying process, use a moisturizing lotion on it.
iv) Rub carefully
You can place a clean, thick cloth over the site and use your fingers to graze over it. The cloth prevents your fingernails from doing fatal damage but the pressure relieves the itching.
v) Engage in a distracting activity
This will only work for some people. However, you should give it a try before ruling it out. By engaging in an activity that will require your full attention, your brain will be distracted from the scratching and itching thoughts. You can phone a friend, play video games or go for a walk. There are others who report that chewing gum helps too.
vi) Cool the inked area
Cold sensations on the site will bring a soothing effect. You can use a damp piece of towel or cloth on the area for several minutes. However, ensure it is clean. Use of ice packs should be done cautiously. They should not be placed directly on the spot because ice can burn. This will complicate the healing process. You can place a clean piece of cloth on the itchy area before applying the ice packs.
Itchiness lasts for 7 to 10 days. If you don’t scratch the area, you will have a stunning clean tattoo before long.