Ever Wondered Why Your Fresh Tattoo Is Starting to Peel?

Got a fresh new tattoo? We get the excitement, but you need to take proper care of your body art. This includes covering your tattoo and changing the bandages or plastic wrap timely, washing it with mild soap and cool or lukewarm water, moisturizing it properly, and staying away from direct sunlight and chlorinated pool water.

These were some of the things you do as a part of your tattoo aftercare routine. But that’s not all you need to know. There are a few things that happen as your tattoo heals that you need to be mindful of. One of which is peeling. Yes, people! Your skin will start shedding layers of dead skin cells in a process called exfoliation. It will be more concentrated around the tattoo region since it underwent trauma. The needle from the tattoo gun penetrates your skin and your tattoo is essentially an open wound at the start. Here’s the answer to the frequently asked question of why is my tattoo peeling?

tattooist at work station figuring out peeling

What should peeling look like?

The last thing you are looking forward to after getting a tattoo, is it peeling away and fading. What you need to do is trust the process and have patience. Some peeling at the start is part of the healing process as the skin heals from the wound. It is completely normal and there is nothing to be worried about.

However, there is a bad side to peeling as well. If you experience excessive peeling after getting the tattoo along with extreme itchiness and redness, there is a high chance that the tattoo is infected. You would need to consult your dermatologist and your artist at this point.

When does a tattoo begin to peel?

Usually, the peeling will not begin until a week after getting the tattoo. And it will start happening after you have properly bandaged your tattoo. Keeping your tattoo covered, protected, and clean is essential as it prevents any infections from occurring. It is crucial that you do this because an infection can ruin your entire tattoo and you may need to get it retouched.

Peeling skin is just dead cells coming off. You may also notice scabs that had formed earlier on, starting to come off. You will feel the urge to pick at them along with some itchiness, but don’t give into it. Nobody likes a tattoo gone bad.

There are some things you will start to notice for example your tattoo looking dull and the ink not staying sharp. It is nothing to worry about since it’s just a layer of dead skin cells atop the tattoo that will slowly peel off. After this, your tattoo will start to develop color and come out bright and vibrant.

Your skin needs time to heal. So, be patient and have faith in it.


Indication of a nicely healing tattoo:

There are a set of things that happen from which you can tell if your tattoo is healing properly. Your tattooed skin is still your skin. And skin goes through a process for healing. The time for it to heal varies tremendously from person to person as everyone has different biology. Some have a higher turnover rate for new skin cells and hence exfoliate quicker, while others take their sweet time. The key is to have patience.

Here are a few things that indicate a healthy healing tattoo:

  • Mild itchiness and redness
  • Slight inflammation as a result of the wound, which should not extend beyond the tattoo region
  • Skin peeling
  • Redness along with the formation of little to medium-sized scabs

When you see these things happen, your tattoo is most likely healing in a natural way, just like it should. However, in case any of these things happen at an extreme level, you need medical assistance asap.

How to tell if a tattoo isn’t healing correctly?

There are more than a few things that can easily go wrong with a fresh tattoo. So, it is really not that hard to tell if your tattoo isn’t healing properly. While peeling is all-natural, these are a few things you need to pay close attention to:

  1. Inflammation:

Slight inflammation is fine as we discussed. But if you see excessive inflammation along with redness and itchiness, it could indicate an allergic reaction your body is having to the ink. This is a common occurrence among new tattoos and could entirely be due to the ink not suiting your body. That’s why it is better to have yourself checked for allergies related to body ink before getting a tattoo.

There is a rare condition called sarcoidosis which is an inflammation around old tattoos. If you experience that, you should quickly discuss it with your doctor.

  1. Rashes:

Rashes can also indicate an allergy to ink brewing up. There are certain skin conditions in which you shouldn’t get a tattoo. These are psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. People with these conditions can flare up their ailments by getting a tattoo as their skin is super sensitive. Any trauma to the skin can cause these conditions to surface. 

  1. Scars and discharge:

Scars show that your tattoo didn’t heal properly. It could be due to you not taking proper aftercare or it could just be your skin not cooperating. In either case, you need to consult your dermatologist for a quick resolution.

Discharge, however, from any inflammation along with excessive blood coming out indicates an infection. Often as a result of not covering the tattoo properly and not keeping it clean. If something like this happens, your doctor will put you on antibiotics and you need to complete the course no matter what. You may start feeling better after a day or two but it doesn’t mean you stop taking it. If you do, you will only be allowing the bacteria to develop resistance against the antibiotic which can get worse.

  1. Extreme itchiness:

Mild itchiness is completely normal. Extreme itchiness is not. It could easily indicate infections, allergic reactions and/or inflammation. Do not give into scratching as it will make it that much worse. It can ruin your tattoo as well. You need to go to a doctor in case something like this were to occur.

What if my tattoo doesn’t peel?

Think of it as a blessing honestly. Everyone has different skin, and it takes a good time to heal. Your peeling may come at a later stage in time and that is completely normal. Some of you may not even see any scabs develop.

What’s important to take away from this is that you don’t have to induce peeling on your own by scratching the tattoo.

With all this information about your tattoo peeling, you can now easily see a problem coming from a mile away. We believe this will well-equip and prepare you for anything that may go wrong after getting a tattoo so you can handle it like a boss! All you need to do is trust the process and keep a lookout for these issues.

Getting a tattoo is supposed to be fun. Don’t run away from it, embrace it!