Tattoo Itching: Soothing the Itch and Knowing When to Worry

Two tattoo artists confer at Omnia Tattoo studio, one heavily tattooed himself.

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If you’ve recently gotten a tattoo, you might be experiencing some itching as it heals. This is a common part of the healing process, and it usually starts within the first week after getting inked.

In this guide, we’ll explore the causes of tattoo itching, provide effective relief techniques, and discuss when it might be necessary to consult with a professional.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to manage tattoo itching and ensure your new tattoo heals properly.

Why Do Tattoos Itch?

Let’s start by discussing why there is tattoo itching in the first place. There are a few main reasons:

1. Skin Healing

When you get a tattoo, the needle punctures your skin thousands of times, causing minor trauma.

As your skin begins to heal, it goes through a process called “skin cell turnover,” where new skin cells replace the damaged ones.

This process can lead to itching as the skin regenerates and the tattoo ink settles into the deeper layers of your skin.

2. Scabbing

As your tattoo heals, you may notice scabs forming over the area. These scabs can feel tight and itchy, especially when they start to flake off.

It’s important to resist the urge to scratch or pick at the scabs, as this can lead to infection and damage to your new tattoo.

3. Dryness

Freshly tattooed skin can be prone to dryness, which can contribute to itching.

As your skin heals, it may feel tight and dehydrated, especially if you’re not keeping the area moisturised.

Using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturiser can help alleviate dryness and itching.

How to Soothe Tattoo Itching: Effective Relief Techniques

Now that we know why your tattoo itching is occuring, let’s discuss some effective methods to find relief:

1. Moisturise

Keeping your tattoo moisturised is essential for reducing itching and promoting healing.

Choose a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturiser that’s specifically designed for tattoo aftercare.

Apply a thin layer of moisturiser to your tattoo several times a day, especially after cleansing the area.

Avoid using petroleum-based products, as they can clog your pores and trap bacteria.

2. Apply Cool Compresses

Applying a cool compress to your itchy tattoo can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief.

Wrap a clean, damp cloth or paper towel around an ice pack and gently hold it against your tattoo for 5-10 minutes at a time. Avoid applying ice directly to your skin, as this can cause damage.

3. Gently Cleanse

Keeping your tattoo clean is crucial for preventing infection and promoting healing.

Gently cleanse your tattoo with lukewarm water and a fragrance-free, antimicrobial soap. Avoid using washcloths or loofahs, as they can harbor bacteria and irritate your skin.

Use your clean hands to gently wash the area, then pat it dry with a soft, clean towel.

4. Wear Loose, Breathable Clothing

Wearing loose, breathable clothing can help reduce friction and irritation on your healing tattoo.

Opt for soft, natural fabrics like cotton, and avoid tight-fitting clothes that can rub against your tattoo.

If your tattoo is in an area that experiences frequent friction, consider covering it with a non-stick, sterile bandage for added protection.

5. Resist the Urge to Scratch

It can be tempting to scratch your itchy tattoo, but scratching can introduce bacteria and cause damage to your new ink.

Instead, try gently tapping or patting the area to alleviate the itch. You can also try distracting yourself with other activities or applying a cold compress to numb the sensation.

Tattoo artist at Omnia Tattoo studio works on client despite tattoo itching, visible neon sign.

Warning Signs: When to Seek Professional Help

While tattoo itching is a normal part of the healing process, there are some warning signs that may indicate a more serious problem. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your tattoo artist or a healthcare professional:

  • – Severe, persistent itching that doesn’t improve with home remedies
  • – Redness, swelling, or warmth around the tattoo that worsens over time
  • – Unusual discharge, such as pus or foul-smelling fluid
  • – Fever or chills, which may be signs of a systemic infection
  • – Raised, itchy bumps or rash around the tattoo, which could be an allergic reaction

If you’re ever unsure about your tattoo itching or any other symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. Early intervention can help prevent complications and ensure a smooth healing process.

The Importance of Proper Tattoo Aftercare

Managing tattoo itching is just one aspect of proper tattoo aftercare.

By following a comprehensive aftercare routine, you can promote healing, reduce discomfort, and ensure the longevity of your new tattoo.

This includes keeping your tattoo clean, moisturised, and protected from the sun and other environmental factors.

Remember, your tattoo artist is a valuable resource for aftercare advice and guidance.

If you have any questions or concerns during the healing process, don’t hesitate to reach out to them for help.


Tattoo itching is a common and normal part of the healing process, but it can be uncomfortable.

By understanding the causes of tattoo itching and using these effective relief techniques, you can soothe your skin and promote a comfortable healing journey.

Remember to watch for warning signs and seek professional advice if needed.

With proper aftercare and attention, your new tattoo will heal beautifully, and the itching will soon be a thing of the past. Take good care of your new body art, and enjoy showing it off!

Omnia Tattoo is Melbourne’s premier tattoo studio, where artistic vision meets world-class craftsmanship. Our team of talented tattoo artists specializes in a wide range of styles, from intricate fine line work to bold traditional designs. We’re committed to creating tattoos that reflect your unique story and style.

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