Can You Get Tattooed If Your Skin Is Peeling From Sunburn?

It’s the first day of fall (when this article was created), so summer is officially on. Until next year, all we can do is stay nostalgic for those wonderful sunny and warm summer days. But, some of you still face sunbathing at the end of vacation, which of course is sunburned skin.

Now, if you’re like me and you’ve decided to go on vacation in late August and early September, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It seems that sunburns at this time take longer to occur because the sunlight is not as intense as in the height of summer. However, there is the catch. You think getting a sunburn is impossible with this gentle, low-intensity sunbathing, but here we are. Sunburn and peeling. And, some of us have a tattoo to do.

So what can you do? If this sounds like your kind of late summer scenario, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s talk about tattooing sunburn, peeling skin, and why you should probably postpone your tattoo appointment!

Sunburned and peeling skin – why does this happen?

Sunburn occurs for two reasons;

  • The skin is overexposed to harmful UV B rays, which are known to damage the DNA of skin cells
  • The body’s natural defense system becomes too overwhelmed to react, so in turn it causes a toxic reaction or inflammation and increased/faster melanin production, known as sunburn (or tanning in the moderate cases)

As a result, DNA is completely damaged in skin cells. Thus, to recover and promote the development of new cells, the dead cells actually cause the skin to peel. This amount of skin damage can be avoided by using sunscreens SPF 30 or higher. Regular application of sunscreen, especially during the summer, provides a protective barrier for the skin, minimizing sunburn and preventing skin flaking.

Peeling skin should be treated with lotion application and gentle exfoliation. In the beginning, with severe sunburn, it is essential to manage the pain. So, by taking ibuprofen, you can manage pain and soothe inflammation. It’s also important to stay hydrated and not expose the skin to the sun until it’s completely healed.

In some cases, the peeling of the skin is moderate. The skin is peeling in some places and there are no “sheets of peeling skin”. This means that the skin should recover quickly with proper care. However, a severe peel takes longer to complete and may even hurt.

How do you know if your skin is severely peeling? Well, there are sheets of peeling skin on the body and the peeling areas are visibly inflamed and red. These areas also hurt and when you touch them there is usually a trace of your natural skin color turning red.

Also read: Tattoo peeling: is it normal and how to fix it (everything you need to know)

Tattoos and sunburned skin

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Registered tattoo

Now, the problem with sunburned skin is that you are dealing with a 1st or 2nd degree skin burn in the majority of peeling skin cases. This means that the skin lesions are severe, even with moderate peeling of the skin. The only way around this is to let the skin heal, as we mentioned before.

So what about tattooing sunburned skin? Well, you might want to move your tattoo appointment up a week or two, because no tattoo artist will tattoo sunburned, peeling skin. The reasons are;

  • The tattoo needle will promote further skin damage
  • The pain from the tattoo would be extreme, especially if done in a very sensitive area
  • Skin peels will interfere with the tattoo needle and the tattoo artist will have visibility problems
  • It can be difficult to match the color of the ink with the “current” skin color, which is tan and red
  • Dead skin can cause tattoo problems and even lead to infection (dead skin cells can carry germs and bacteria)
  • The tattoo artist will not control the process due to many obstacles and problems
  • Sunburned skin can peel but also form blisters, which can also become infected during tattooing
  • Because a layer of skin peels off, there is always a risk of ink smearing

All in all, it’s a big NO to the question of whether you can get a tattoo while your skin is sunburned and peeling. This is far from an ideal skin condition for a process that is itself damaging to the skin. So adding damage to damage can be very bad for your skin and overall health.

So what can you do to promote faster skin healing?

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Registered tattoo

The only thing you can do, besides using home remedies, is wait for your skin to heal and stop peeling. This process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the sunburn. To promote faster skin healing, you should;

  • Stay hydrated – drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day, in addition to eating fruits and vegetables, which are also sources of fluids and hydration. This applies especially during the hottest days.
  • Use a cold compress – if your skin is severely sunburned and peeling, you can use a cold compress to cool the skin. A cool shower also helps. Do not apply ice directly to the skin, as this will irritate and damage it further. Instead, put ice cubes in a plastic bag, and even wrap it with a towel.
  • To take pills – anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help soothe sunburn or inflamed skin. It can also help relieve pain and promote faster healing. We recommend avoiding anti-inflammatory ointments as they tend to contain petroleum. Now, petroleum-based products can prevent skin scarring and cause skin closure and moisture buildup.
  • Avoid peeling the skin – it can be quite tempting to peel off dead skin cells, but you should refrain from doing so. The skin has a natural way of dealing with dead cells and removing them on its own. When the new skin under the dead skin cells is completely healed and salvaged, the peels will fall off on their own. If you remove them, the skin may be susceptible to further damage.

When can you finally get a tattoo?

Depending on the severity of your sunburn and peeling skin, you should wait between one and two weeks before getting a tattoo. In case of moderate tan, without sunburn or peeling skin for example, you can get a tattoo right away. However, increased redness of the skin and increased peeling of the skin means that you have to wait longer for it to heal before getting a tattoo.

As long as the skin tan is within the range of normal and natural, you can get a tattoo whenever you want. Moderate or severe sunburn and peeling skin means you have to wait 7-14 days to get a tattoo. Even then, your tattoo artist will examine the skin to see if it is completely healed.

Final Thoughts

No tattoo artist will tattoo sunburned, peeling skin. It’s just too risky for the customer. The process would be extremely painful, the tattoo might not go well due to many obstacles, and the skin would be badly damaged. There is always a risk of tattoo inflammation and infection due to peeling skin and blisters caused by sunburn.

So if you want to get a tattoo, be patient. Remember; a tattoo is permanent. So you want to have the best basis for such an experience. If there is the slightest chance of something messing up your tattoo, think about it and just wait.

For more information, be sure to speak to your dermatologist who will examine the condition of your skin and help you estimate how long it will take for the skin to heal.

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