For many of those who have just had their first tattoo, watching it peel off and flake away can be something of great concern.
Relax sissies, it is a normal thing.
Welcome to the club.
Whatever is happening to your tattoo is a natural process associated with getting inked.
Why do tattoos peel?
During the tattooing process, the tattooing needles puncture the skin almost hundreds of times a minute, thus by the time your tattooing session ends, a particularly large skin surface becomes similar to a wound, a big one, depending with the extent of tattooing.
Wounds are open to infections, and tattooing results in a wound, thus the natural reaction by the human skin is formation of scabs to protect the wounded area, unless you can magically heal instantly, as long as you are a human, scabs thou shall get on your tattoos.
The peeling tattoo
The level of tattoo scabbing varies from one individual to another depending with the skin types and skin reaction, and also largely depends with your tattoo artists experience or inexperience and how rough or gentle they are when inking. Anyway, once your scabs have formed, your skin will get covered in what feels like hardened skin, this is the protective layer over the wound.
This then eventually peels off and flakes away, ushering in a new healthy skin layer, so don’t worry, it is not your tattoo going away, it is the skin rejuvenating.
Is it normal for tattoos to peel away?
It is perfectly normal as part of tattoo healing, any single tattoo inked around a skin area automatically causes a wound that the body will naturally react to protect until such a time that it has healed.
Keep in mind that the way the skin peels is dependent on how well you have taken care of your tattoo, the size of your tattoo and its location plus how heavy the scabbing is, the bigger the tattoo, the more it will peel off and flake since the skin will be rejuvenating over a larger area that has been pierced by needles.
At the same time, it is important to note that certain areas of the skin will be more resistant towards peeling, thus peel off at a slower rate than in other parts. This is because they are tougher i.e. parts that are always exposed or moved often. Moisturizing your tattoo as part of tattoo aftercare phase reduces amount of flaking since the skin does not dry out quick.
Peeling is heavier where the scabbing is heavy and vice versa; this also means that flaking of skin will be directly proportional to how heavy the scabbing is.
How long it takes for a tattoo to start peeling
This is usually within the first week when the skin starts the natural healing process, so about five to seven days. This is also heavily dependent on the skin type and how a persons’ skin reacts, but usually before or end of a week after tattooing.
For smaller tattoos, the peeling can be unnoticeable, especially if the tattooed area is kept well moisturized.
For how long does a tattoo peel?
This varies with the individual since skin types vary from one individual to another, but the average peeling period is usually one week. The area tattooed also influences the length of peeling, with over used areas like the wrists taking longer since the skin there is naturally tougher than skin in other soft areas that may clear peeling after some few days.
A tattoo can also peel twice, one heavy peeling followed by light peeling that may be barely noticeable, again, this is normal and natural for certain skin types, the main helper here is constant moisturizing of the skin.
What you should do when tattoo starts to peel off
The aftercare routine is key and important to ensure that the tattoo heals and peels in a good way. Here are a few guidelines:
Do not pick the peeling tattoo; you might end up pulling ink that has not settled, resulting in patches on your tattoo. It is tempting but do not pick nor pull.
Do not scratch the tattoo, no matter how itchy it gets; this will just cause premature ripping off of the skin resulting in patches since the ink gets pulled out. This might also cause re-infection of the skin and can be disastrous should the area that has been inked gets infected.
Moisturize the tattoo: this helps the tattoo to heal faster since the moisturizers in the market have minerals and vital vitamins, it also reduces the itching.
Keep the tattoo clean and have patience: a clean tattoo is less likely to have infections thus heal up faster since cleaning helps keep dirt and oil off the wound, thus keeping the pores open and speeds up the healing process. Be patient and let the tattoo heal naturally.
Tattoos peeling off and flaking is a normal and natural part of getting a tattoo, however one should learn proper after care practices in order to have a good tattoo, the importance of keeping your tattoo moisturized cannot be understated. Go ye forth and get inked!