How to Take Care of Pimples on Your Tattoo

You’ve just gotten your dream tattoo, and now there are pimples all over it, and you don’t know what to do. Should I pop them? Is there a cream I should be using to get rid of them? Is it normal for them to appear? Throughout this article, all of your questions will be answered, and you will be on your way to getting rid of those pesky little tattoo pimples!

Is it Normal to Get Them on a New Tattoo?

Of course! It’s completely normal to get pimples on a new tattoo. The process of getting a tattoo leaves your skin sensitive and vulnerable to different kinds of pimple-causing bacteria. Usually, pimples on a new tattoo are caused by an over usage of aftercare products, clogged pores, or an allergic reaction to the ink used.

People can sometimes experience an allergic reaction to red tattoo ink because some inks contain mercury sulfide and shellfish, common allergens.

How Do You Treat Pimples on Your Tattoo?

There are different ways to go about getting rid of tattoo pimples. You can’t treat tattoo pimples like regular acne because many acne-fighting products have damaging ingredients to your tattoo. First, you should consult your tattoo artist so they can give you the best recommendation based on your skin and the tattoo.

Using tattoo aftercare cleansers consistently should start to clear up the pimples; however, make sure that you aren’t over-cleansing. Also, be sure to rub gently and use additive-free and fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers to prevent skin irritation. Doing this about 2-3 times a day should begin to show results.

Should You Pop Them?

No! Never pop a pimple, especially if it’s on a tattoo. Popping tattoo pimples can delay your body’s natural healing process leading to scarring on your tattoo. Also, if done incorrectly, the bacteria inside the pimple could be pushed deeper underneath your skin which could eventually cause more pimples.

Other risks involved with popping tattoo pimples include new-ink displacement, which could cause faded or patchy spots on your new tattoo, and skin infections. Since new tattoos are considered open wounds, releasing the bacteria within a pimple onto a new tattoo can cause skin infections and slow the tattoo healing process.

Can Pimples Damage Your Tattoo?

Pimples on your tattoo can only be damaging if you pop them. They might obstruct the aesthetic appeal for the time being, but your best option is to leave them alone and wait for them to clear up.

How Long Do Tattoo Pimples Last?

This varies from person to person based on different aspects such as your diet, your skincare routine, etc. However, tattoo pimples typically last about a week to two weeks, but they can last anywhere from a few days up to six weeks, depending on the size and population.

Why are Bumps Appearing on a Tattoo Months Later?

There could be several reasons why this is occurring. It could range anywhere from an allergic reaction to clogged pores to in-grown hairs; however, don’t worry, all of these cases are treatable and cause no harm to your tattoo.

Allergic Reaction to Red Ink

Since shellfish are often used as a pigment in red ink, an allergic reaction could be what’s causing the bumps to appear on your tattoo. You’ll know if it’s an allergic reaction because the area will also be swollen, itchy, and, in some cases, flaking scaly patches will appear.

For mild reactions, use a soothing agent such as aloe vera or tattoo ointments to mitigate symptoms until the reaction subsides. For more intense, painful reactions, I recommend going to a doctor for prescribed medications such as steroid creams or Benadryl.

Clogged Sweat Glands

This means exactly what it sounds like–your pores are clogged, which causes bumps to form. There’s a super easy fix for this situation and it’s just to clean your tattoo more. Since new tattoos are open wounds, they are more susceptible to bacterial infections and pimples, so be sure to keep them clean.

Another cause for clogged sweat glands is if there’s too much moisture in your tattoo. Moisturized areas are a breeding ground for acne and pimple-causing bacterias. Applying too much ointment and bandaging your tattoo can trap moisture underneath your skin. This can not only cause tattoo bumps but can fade the color of your tattoo.

In-Grown Hairs

Don’t worry, in-grown hairs don’t affect the quality of your tattoo in any way. They do, however, inflame your hair follicle, causing irritation, swelling, and red bumps around the area. To get rid of these pesky disturbances, gently washing two to three times a day and tea tree oil should do the trick.

For Each Case, Consult Your Tattoo Artist or a Dermatologist

Your tattoo artist has probably seen many cases similar to yours throughout their career, so they would be able to give you the best advice on how to maintain the quality of your tattoo while getting rid of the blemishes. For more serious cases, you might need to get a dermatologist involved–after all, it is their job to handle matters of the skin.

You might want to use a trip to the dermatologist as a last resort, though, because certain medications and prescriptions can be damaging to your tattoo. Fading, spotting, and flaking of your tattoo can occur due to some medical treatments.

Ideal Pimple Care Routine

Before I continue with the ideal way to treat tattoo pimples, here are a few “don’ts” that you should be aware of when it comes to treating pimples on tattoos.

As previously mentioned, do not pop, scratch, or pick the pimples. Also, don’t use scented moisturizers or cleansers. Do not bandage your tattoo after washing, and do not scrub the affected area when washing as this can lead to more irritation.

The pimple care routine I recommend in this situation would be to use the tattoo cleanser recommended by your tattoo artist and wash gently in circular motions. A key point to remember is that you always want to wash your hands before cleaning, or else the entire wash is ineffective.

I would then follow up with a few drops of tea tree oil and a very small amount of a fragrance-free moisturizer so that way the area isn’t completely moisture-deprived. Tea tree oil contains bacteria-fighting agents which are great for getting rid of pimples naturally. I would let my tattoo air-dry because wrapping it could cause moisture to build up inside the pimples.

I would do this routine two to three times a day–morning, noon, and night– every day until the pimples go away, remembering to be extra gentle throughout the whole process.

Some of you might be tempted to put rubbing alcohol or witch hazel on the pimples to dry them out, but that method can cause more irritation, redness, and fade your tattoo. The other method might be slow and steady, but it gets you the results.

Tattoos are beautiful pieces of art, and it’s a shame when your masterpiece is disrupted by obstructions such as pimples. With the information you have now, hopefully, you can determine what’s causing your tattoo pimples and how to go about treating them. Thank you for reading this article, and I wish you the best of luck on your tattoo journey!