It can be scary when you see your tattoo peeling — all that time, energy, money, hope, and work just for it to peel away. Before you start worrying, remember that it is normal for a tattoo to peel. When you get a tattoo, you have an open wound, and your body is repairing it.
A few weeks of patience and a review of our advice for what to do if your tattoo is peeling should get you through this phase. We’ll also tell you what not to do if your tattoo is peeling. The first thing to remember if your tattoo is peeling is: some peeling is normal.
Peeling is not a sign that your tattoo artist did anything wrong, it does not mean your tattoo will disappear, and it is not worth worrying about. Your body art isn’t going anywhere; your skin is simply healing. Today, we will cover what tattoo peeling is and how to determine if your tattoo is peeling normally or if you might have an infection.
What Is Tattoo Peeling?
Tattoo peeling is a standard part of the tattoo healing process. During the tattoo peeling process, your epidermis (the top layer of skin) sloughs off dead skin cells through exfoliation. This doesn’t affect the tattooed area because tattoo needles inject tattoo ink into the dermis, which is the layer of skin underneath the epidermis.
You will usually start to notice peeling skin around your tattoo by the end of the first week of having your tattoo after you have removed your bandages. Sometimes, your tattoo might look dull because dead skin cells are on top of it. After your tattoo peels, it will look nice and fresh again.
You might also notice tattoo scabbing during the second week of your healing process. It can be tempting to pick at these scabs and your peeling skin, but let your skin do its thing and don’t interfere.
What Do I Do if My Tattoo Is Peeling?
There are several ways that you can protect and soothe your sensitive skin during the aftercare process. Keep reading to learn how to wash, moisturize, and soothe your freshly inked skin.
Should You Wash Your Tattoo While It’s Peeling?
Keep your tattoo clean. Why? Because during this healing stage, you face some risk of infection if the area is not kept clean. Remember, you just had needles puncture your skin many thousands of times, and any puncture is an opportunity for an infection.
Keeping your tattoo clean when it is peeling can also help to speed up the healing process. A particularly effective cleansing product is HUSH CBD Foaming Soap.
What Should I Use to Moisturize My Peeling Tattoo?
Apply a moisturizer, lotion, or tattoo aftercare cream to the tattoo. Why? Because a top-quality tattoo aftercare cream can have several important benefits. First, it can relieve the itching you’re likely feeling.
Second, it can support the healing process as long as your moisturizer has the right vitamins and minerals. For example, HUSH tattoo care products are specifically formulated to provide the right combination of healing and soothing elements. Finally, it provides a protective barrier to allow the tattoo to heal in its own time.
How Can I Soothe My Tattoo During the Peeling Stage?
You're not alone if you’re experiencing itchiness as your tattoo peels to reveal the new skin underneath. Here at HUSH, we don’t think your tattooing process or your healing process should be uncomfortable.
To melt away discomfort, use our Tattoo Numbing Spray. This antiseptic, lidocaine-based formula supports the body’s natural infection-fighting system and provides ultimate relief. Next time you want to itch or scratch your healing tattoo, reach for a bottle of our numbing spray instead to protect your new ink and keep it feeling great.
How Can I Protect My New Tattoo?
If you’re wondering what to do if your tattoo is peeling and how to speed the aftercare process, HUSH has numerous skincare products to help keep your tattoo clean and protected during the peeling stage. Proper tattoo aftercare is key to making sure your tattoo looks good for years to come.
Start by cleaning the area and getting the right tattoo care products. HUSH makes that part easy. Your best choices for tattoo aftercare products include our CBD Foam Soap, which lets you keep your tattoo clean, speeds up healing, and helps remove surface bacteria that can slow the healing process.
You can learn more about top-rated HUSH products here.
You should also protect your new tattoo from the sun - getting a sunburn is one of the worst things you can do to fresh ink. Not only can it cause infection, but it can disrupt and discolor your tattoo and cause you to need a touch-up. Apply sunscreen consistently to your new tattoo and wear clothing over it when possible.
What Are the Symptoms of Tattoo Peeling?
The symptoms of tattooed skin peeling are pretty conspicuous. You’ll notice a lot of itchiness and dry skin on the tattoo and surrounding area. The skin might appear flaky and dry or peel off large pieces of skin.
Also, your tattoo might not peel at all! Everybody reacts differently to tattoos. If your tattoo doesn’t peel, or peels later than you might expect, don’t worry — and don’t try to get your tattoo to peel by scratching at it.
If your tattoo starts swelling or you see a lot of redness and bumps around your tattoo, talk to your doctor immediately. These symptoms might be more than just healing; your tattoo could be infected.
What To Avoid With a Peeling Tattoo?
Do not panic. While a few weeks may seem like an eternity, your tattoo will heal, and the peeling will stop. You might be worried that the peeling means your tattoo is infected, but this step is totally normal, especially with larger tattoos.
If you’re worried about your tattoo, don’t be afraid to contact your artist or your dermatologist to ensure your skin is healing properly. If you’re following the proper aftercare instructions, your tattoo healing should be smooth sailing.
Do not pick at your tattoo. The most effective way for a tattoo to heal and stop peeling is in its own time. If you pick off scabs or peel off flaky pieces of skin, you may cause additional trauma to the area. Pulling off a scab also risks removing some of the ink.
We know it can be super tempting to pick a tattoo to speed up the healing process, but let your tattoo heal on its own time to retain maximum color and brightness.
Do not scratch your tattoo. We know this can fall under ‘easier said than done’ category. A healing tattoo can be itchy, so your instinct will be to scratch it. But scratching is just as bad as picking at a tattoo. You risk causing damage to the sensitive, healing area. You also risk disturbing the newly placed ink, which can result in patchy spots in your tattoo.
If your tattoo is itchy and uncomfortable, you have options! HUSH has plenty of products to help with your aftercare, like our Numbing Spray. For fast relief that won’t damage your fresh ink, mist on a healthy layer of numbing spray. Couple this with our CBD Healing Balm and Foam Soap for a triple threat of relief and protection.
Don’t Wear Tight Clothes
Avoid tight clothes. Why? Tight clothes can rub on your healing tattoo and may cause more irritation. Letting the tattoo heal is important, and exposure to open air while wearing loose clothing is generally the most effective way for this to happen.
Keep in mind that it’s also important to follow your tattoo artist’s instructions. So, if they tell you to take the bandage off after a certain amount of time, heed that advice. You can also always contact your artist with aftercare concerns.
How Long Does Tattoo Peeling Last?
The tattoo healing process is different for everyone — some people might not experience any peeling, while others might take up to a month to fully heal. Some of this depends on your body chemistry and the size or detail of the tattoo you get.
Usually, your tattoo will start peeling and scabbing during the first week of healing. This is also when your tattoo will be its itchiest and when you might start seeing scabs. Scabs and peeling can also occur in the second week, but any redness should fade away by the second week.
After this, you should start to see your itching and peeling go down dramatically. You might still have a few flaky patches, but these should clear up quickly if you properly care for your tattoo. Make sure to follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions, and don’t hesitate to contact them if you think something is wrong with your tattoo.
Is My Tattoo Peeling or Infected?
How do you know what is normal tattoo peeling and what are signs of infection? HUSH is here to set the record straight.
While going to a reputable tattoo shop that uses sterile equipment can greatly reduce your risk of infection, there is always some risk of allergic reaction or immune system response that leads to a negative reaction to your new ink.
Some people might have a bad reaction to tattoo ink from an allergic reaction or contamination. You can also get an infection if you don’t go to a reputable artist and get tatted with a nonsterile needle or get a tattoo on unclean skin. If you don’t keep your tattoo clean and taken care of during the aftercare process, you can also get an infection as your skin tries to heal.
Symptoms of an Infected Tattoo
Infected tattoos look really different from tattoos that are simply peeling and healing. While you might see scabs with a non-infected tattoo, infected tattoos usually have bumps on the skin that can have pus inside or larger nodules underneath the skin.
Redness and a little swelling are normal in the first day or two after getting a tattoo, but if your redness and swelling worsen or don’t go away, it can be a sign that your tattoo is infected. You also might experience pain and soreness in the tattoo area.
Finally, you might experience other symptoms like chills or a fever. See a doctor immediately if you experience one or more of these symptoms. They can lead to serious complications that need treatment fast.
Peeling is a normal part of the healing process regarding tattoos. Here at HUSH, we want your aftercare process to be easy and comfortable, so we created products like our Numbing Spray, CBD Foam Soap, and CBD Balm to soothe and protect your skin.
Tattoo Infection: Signs, Causes, Treatment & Prevention | Cleveland Clinic
What To Expect When You Get a Tattoo | Cleveland Clinic
Aftercare Instructions in the Tattoo Community: An Opportunity to Educate on Sun Protection and Increase Skin Cancer Awareness - PMC | NCBI
What Do People Really Know About the Medical Risks of Body Ink? - PMC | NCBI