Itchy Tattoos: What to Do (and What Not to Do)

Last update:
* This post contains affiliate links, and we will be compensated if you buy after clicking on our links.

Are you familiar with the saying “art is pain”? Well, when it comes to getting a tattoo, it can also be very itchy. In fact, having an itchy tattoo is a natural part of the tattoo healing process. Typically, the itchiness starts about a week after getting the tattoo and can be so intense by the peeling stage that you feel like clawing your own skin off. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll explore why tattoos can be so itchy, how to manage the discomfort, and what to do if the itchiness persists or worsens. While itching is a normal part of the healing process, it’s important to be aware that it could indicate an underlying issue like an infection or allergic reaction. We’ll share some tips on how to alleviate the itchiness and when to seek medical attention.

Why Does My Tattoo Itch? 6 Reasons

Do you have an itchy tattoo and wondering why? There are several reasons why this may be happening. Let’s explore some possible causes of an itchy tattoo.

– Healing Process

The most common cause is the natural healing process.

During this process, various factors can cause itching, such as inflammatory response, histamine release, opioid receptor activation, and nerve growth.

– Dryness

Dryness can also cause itchiness, which can be alleviated by moisturizing the tattoo with a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer.

– Allergic Reaction

Another possible cause is an allergic reaction to the ink or other substances used during the tattooing process. If you notice symptoms such as itching, redness, swelling, or bumps, seek medical attention.

Click here to find out more about tattoo allergic reactions.

– Infection

Infections can also cause an itchy tattoo. Proper tattoo aftercare is crucial, and symptoms of an infected tattoo can include redness, warmth, tenderness, and discharge. Seeking prompt medical attention is important in case of infections.

– MRI Scans

MRI scans are used by doctors to diagnose some health conditions. Although it’s rare, the FDA has reported that MRI scans can affect old tattoos. This can cause itchiness and swelling in the tattooed area. These symptoms usually go away on their own without any medical treatment after a short time.

– Other Medical Conditions

Other medical conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis can cause itchiness and skin irritation. If you have these conditions, it’s possible that they may have been present before the tattoo was done.

It’s essential to identify the underlying cause of your itchy tattoo to alleviate your symptoms and prevent further discomfort. Remember, seeking medical attention is necessary if your symptoms persist or if you notice any other symptoms besides itching.

How Long Will My Tattoo Be Itchy?

Typically, tattoos can be itchy for about one to two weeks as the skin heals and scabs form. Once the scabs fall off and the skin fully heals, the itchiness should go away. However, it’s rare, but possible, that some people may experience itching for months or even years after getting a tattoo.

If you continue to experience itchiness that doesn’t go away or gets worse after getting a tattoo, it could be a sign of an underlying issue such as an infection or allergic reaction. In such cases, it’s important to seek medical attention to avoid any potential complications.

My Tattoo Itches After Months: Is This Normal?

It’s important to explore the different reasons for persistent itching because although some itching after getting a tattoo can be normal, if the itching persists or worsens, seeking medical attention may be necessary.

  • Itching can be due to skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis that make the skin irritated and itchy all the time.
  • Environmental factors like weather changes can also contribute to tattoo itching. Dry air in winter can cause dry skin, leading to itchiness, while humid air in summer can make the skin swell and become itchy.
  • Sometimes, itching can be due to an allergic reaction to the ink used for the tattoo. This can cause redness, swelling, or bumps on the tattooed area.
  • Infection can also be a reason for persistent itching, which can occur months after getting a tattoo. Symptoms like redness, warmth, tenderness, and discharge can indicate an infected tattoo.

Itchy Tattoos: How to Relieve Them

The most important thing to remember when you have an itchy tattoo is not to scratch it, as this can cause further complications. However, there are other ways to relieve the itch and prevent yourself from scratching incessantly:

Cool compress (for healed tattoos)

A cool comprescan yous can numb the area and provide temporary relief from itching. If the itching becomes unbearable, you can use this method.


Dry skin is a common cause of tattoo itching. You can apply a moisturizer to keep the area hydrated and soothe the itching. Make sure to use a moisturizer that is safe for your tattoo. For more details on how to take care of your tattoos, see our article on tattoo aftercare instructions.

Creams and ointments (for healed tattoos)

Some tattoo creams and ointments can soothe the itching, but be careful when choosing one. Avoid using any creams or ointments until the tattoo is fully healed, unless it’s a cream specifically developed for that.

Take an oatmeal bath (for healed tattoos only)

An oatmeal bath can also provide relief from itching.

Avoid the sun

Exposing your new tattoo to the sun can increase itching and damage the tattoo. Wait until it’s completely healed before exposing it to UV rays.


In conclusion, we can say that during the healing process of a new tattoo, it is common to experience itching, which usually lasts for a couple of weeks. Once the skin heals and the scabs fall off, the itching should subside.

However, some people may experience itching months or even years after getting a tattoo due to various reasons such as skin conditions, environmental factors, or allergic reactions.

If you experience an itchy tattoo that is hot, swollen, or covered in hives, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. These symptoms could be a sign of a late-stage allergic reaction, and it’s necessary to receive prompt medical help to avoid any further complications.


What stage of tattoo is itching?

Typically, after getting a new tattoo, the itchy phase begins about a week later and lasts for another one to two weeks. During this period, the skin and scabs around the tattooed area may start to peel off.

Why do old tattoos raise up and itch?

Older tattoos may sometimes become raised and itchy due to scar tissue, which is normal. Changes in body temperature, weather conditions, and overall health can cause it. Avoid scratching and try using a cool compress or moisturizer for relief. Consult a healthcare professional if symptoms persist.

Can I rub my tattoo if it itches?

Don’t scratch or peel your tattoo, or you may damage it and leave scars. If it’s itchy, try lightly patting it. As your skin heals, it’ll peel and flake off, some of which may have color from the tattoo ink. Don’t pick at it to avoid damaging your skin and the tattoo.

Related Articles:

top 3 best tattoo bandages

Best Tattoo Bandages for 2024

We’ve carefully tested the 3 best tattoo bandages in the market to save you the guesswork. See which ones made the cut and why they’re the top choices for your tattoo aftercare.

Tattoo Blowout: What Is It and What You Can Do About It

Discover the causes of tattoo blowout, learn how to identify it, and explore the available solutions to address this issue.

Coconut Oil: The Natural Solution for Tattoo Aftercare

Learn about the benefits of using coconut oil on tattoos and how it can keep your tattooed skin looking vibrant and healthy.

Can You Prevent Tattoo Scarring? What You Need to Know

Learn about tattoo scarring, how to prevent it, and how to deal with it if it happens.

Protective Tattoo Film vs Cling Film: Which is the Best Option?

What’s the best way to protect your tattoos? Check out our guide to protective tattoo film, the innovative product that’s changing the way tattoos heal.

How Often Should You Wash Your Tattoo? Everything You Need to Know

How often should you wash your tattoo? Discover our expert tips and advice on how to clean and care for your new tattoo for optimal healing.

Leave a Comment