Why is My Tattoo Itchy and Peeling? | Freehand

Why is My Tattoo Itchy and Peeling?

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Firstly, an itchy tattoo is totally normal so dont panic if you are experiencing a severe urge to scratch at it. However, it's super important that you do not scratch too much as this can cause damage to the skin and make the tattoo lines blurry when it has fully healed. The itchiness is caused by the skin becoming dry as it peels and heals. Typically the more ink on the tattoo, the more it itches. This means if you have a full sleeve that includes a lot of blackwork or color, it's likely to itch more than a simple line tattoo. So if you ask a friend and they say that their tattoo didn't itch at all and this makes you worried, theres no need to be concerned as you also have to consider the style of tattoo they have. 



How to make my tattoo stop itching?

If you are reading this post it's likely you are looking for a way to stop the itchiness. Try these steps below:


Resist the first urge to scratch!

Anyone with an itchy tattoo will tell you that scratching the tattoo doesn't feel satisfying. It actually makes it worse and the urge to scratch increases. It's a vicious cycle. A light scratch turns into a medium one and then all of a sudden you are tearing your skin to bits. Resisting the initial urge is key as the feeling will pass. 


Keep cool.

If you're in a hot country this may be difficult but try to hunt down some air conditioning. The hot temperature can make you sweat and this will cause the tattoo to itch even more. 


Stay moisturized.

To fight the dryness, your best bet is to keep the skin moisturized. We wrote an article on coconut oil for tattoos and the benefits that comes with it. You can also use other creams but be careful using over the counter creams or moisturizers as these can change the way that our skin naturally heals. Below are some products that are reccomended from tattooists. (No sponsors or adverts)

Stories and Ink 

After Inked Vegan


Pat or Tap the Area.

Since scratching is off the table, patting or tapping the tattoo gently is your only option. It can relieve the itchiness without causing damage to the skin as mentioned above. 



How long will my tattoo be itchy for?

This depends on the individual and the tattoo size. Typically the itching should pass after 7-14 days but it can be longer if you keep scratching it because this slows down the skin healing process. If the tattoo is still causing discomfort and itchiness after 3 weeks then contact your tattooist or a doctor as this is beyond the normal timeframe. 



Why is my tattoo peeling?

Tattoo peeling is common and expected. The skin is literally exfoliating itself and regenerating new cells. This sounds a bit gross but our skin does this all the time, with or without tattoos so don't freak out. 


Do tattoos fade after they peel?

All tattoos fade over time. The tattoo you see straight after your session is the most bright and vibrant it will ever look. The peeling process is normal and only light fading will be expected after the first couple of weeks. Typically tattoos including lighter shades will fade more visibly than darker ones. 


What do I do when my tattoo is peeling?

The short answer is to leave it alone for the most part. You can keep it moisturized but do not pick at it or start to peel it off manually. The human body will take care of this itself. If you are gently washing your tattoo then it's normal for some of the peeling skin to fall off completely. This just means that it was barely attached to the healthy skin. Don't rub too hard though.


How much tattoo peeling is normal?

The peeling process for most tattoos can take anywhere from 1-3 weeks. Tattoos on parts of the body that are used more or move more such as joints and hands will typically take a little longer to fully heal and stop peeling. 


Is it normal for my tattoo to look cloudy when it's peeling?

Yes this is totally normal. It may look dull or less vibrant as well as a bit blurry and cloudy. After the tattoo peeling process is finished it should go back to a normal state.



Why is my tattoo so itchy after 2 weeks?

After 2 weeks of your tattoo healing process the worst part should have passed. Some light itching or redness can still be expected. However, if it's itching a lot there is a chance that it may be slightly infected or you are experiencing allergeies to the ink. If you're concerned about this, there is no harm in contacting a doctor to double check. Usually there is no major health concerns involved but the tattoo may look less sharp once all is said and done. If you are experiencing these itchy feelings after 1 month then our advice would be to seek medical advice. Other symptoms to keep an eye out for are redness, bumpiness, raised skin after 1 month, rashes and extreme itchiness. 



What do itchy and peeling tattoos look like?

They are typically very dry in appearance with flaky skin. My skin personally looks like a snake shedding it's skin when I get a tattoo. It can be quite ugly to look at but try to resist covering it up with clothing if you can as the tattoo needs breathing room when it's peeling. Here are some examples of dry and itchy looking tattoos.





Don't do these things if your tattoo is itching!

Let's go over a few things you definitely should avoid doing if you are experiencing tattoo peeling or tattoo itchineess. Even though they may be hard, listening to these rules will ensure that your tattoo looks as good as possible once the healing process is complete.


1. Don't peel loose skin off manually

As the tattoo starts to flake and peel it can be tempting to start picking at it like you may do so with a scab on a normal wound. This makes it harder for the body to heal. The same thing happens when you have a spot that you pick at. It takes longer for the spot or pimple to go away. 

2. Don't scratch it

This one is obvious. Don't scratch it. 

3. Don't submerge it in water for too long

Showers can help the feeling subside but if you soak the tattoo in a bath or pool it can be bad for your tattoo. Tattooists reccomend to not do this for 2 weeks.



Hopefully this post was helpful and you have learned how to deal with your itchy tattoo. It can be a struggle to deal with but as time passes it gets easier. If you are considering a custom tattoo design then you are already in the right place. Browse hundreds of tattoo designers and artists on our website and hire one to draw your idea.

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