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Itchy, Raised Tattoos

Finding the Cause & Treating

By

Tattoo artist, drawing a lion cub on skin
Nicola Tree/Taxi/Getty Images
Many times, especially during certain times of the year, the question comes up about raised and itchy tattoos. Sufferers of this condition usually describe it as being occasional rather than consistent, although it can be either. Pinpointing the reason for this discomfort is difficult, as there can be several different causes. This article will explore some of the most common causes and also discuss how it can be treated and alleviated.

Allergic Reaction
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
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.

Body Chemistry
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.

Skin Conditions
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.

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