Itchy tattoos are more than annoying — they can also be a sign of infection or allergic reaction. If your itchiness is severe and you see red streaks or hives, seek medical attention immediately.
Itchiness is normal when a new tattoo heals, but it can become a problem long after your ink has settled. There are a few things you can do to soothe itching and make the tattoo healing process more comfortable.
First and foremost, don’t scratch it! The skin around a new tattoo is extremely sensitive and itching can cause damage and scarring. Scratching can also introduce bacteria, dirt, and other irritants into the wound, increasing the risk of infection.
Wash the area with a mild soap and lukewarm water. Do this twice a day, or as often as needed. This helps remove excess ink, dirt, and dead skin cells that can contribute to itchiness.
Use a moisturizing lotion or ointment that is labeled as safe for tattoos. Avoid heavy creams, as they can impede the healing process. A colloidal oatmeal bath can help sooth itchy skin as well. Just be sure not to submerge a fresh tattoo in water, as this can lead to infection.
If your itchiness persists, try placing a cold compress on the affected area. This will soothe irritation, reduce swelling, and calm itching. If you have a preexisting skin condition that could be making your tattoo itch, ask your doctor about topical medication. This can help ease itchiness from conditions such as eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.