Allergic reactions to the tattoo ink used is usually the first thing that comes to the mind of the sufferer, but is probably the least likely to be the case. However, allergic reactions to ink can and do happen sometimes – especially with red and yellow, or colors that contain red or yellow. An allergic reaction does not necessarily happen immediately – it can appear a week after receiving a tattoo or years down the road. Changes in the body can cause adverse reactions to things that once were totally benign. An ink allergy will be itchy and raised only in spots of the particular color and is more likely to be a constant irritation rather than one that comes and goes. Topical ointments made for allergic reactions may help to relieve mild irritation, while a prescription drug or even tattoo removal may be required for more serious cases.
The weather is the most likely culprit when it comes to occasional but consistent irritation. Some people notice it only happens in the summertime. When temperatures and humidity rise, it can also cause your tattoo to swell slightly. This swelling causes a slight stretching of the skin, which also results in an itchy condition. A well-healed tattoo isn’t likely to be damaged by scratching, but it’s still best to try to avoid it. Topical anti-itch creams, ice or cool water can help to alleviate this discomfort temporarily until the weather becomes more skin-friendly again.
For others, it's just the opposite - the cold winter months and subsequent dry skin causes itchy, rashy tattoos. Dry skin, all by itself, can cause itchy rashes and it could just be a coincidence if one appears over a healed tattoo. But if the pigment under the skin is exposed to extreme cold, it could react to the temperature change in an adverse way. Keeping your skin moist with lotion and also avoiding extreme ups and downs in temperature can help with this problem.
Changes inside your body can affect you on the outside, too. A rise in blood pressure, increased adrenaline, a change in body temperature – all of these things can affect your tattoo. If you notice your tattoo is itchy and uncomfortable, think about what you’ve been doing recently and you might find a connection. Usually stopping this activity for a period of time will cause the tattoo to feel better on its own.
You may discover that you have some kind of skin condition you didn’t even know you had, but your tattoo may be more sensitive to it. A skin condition can be as mild as dry skin or as severe as eczema, although the latter isn’t going to surface just because of a tattoo. If you believe you have some kind of skin condition, a visit to a dermatologist may help to relieve any body itching, including your tattoo.