You just got a new tattoo, but instead of enjoying it, you are in pain and the tattoo is sore and swollen. Everything seems like a mess, especially when you take the bandage off, and the tattoo is just bloody, tender, and red. Well, there’s nothing to worry about. Your new tattoo behaves like a fresh wound, which needs time to heal.
But, you can’t help but wonder; When will my tattoo stop hurting? In the next paragraph we will look at tattoos, why do they hurt and when will they stop hurting and finally start to heal. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Painful tattoo: 7 things you need to know
1. Why is my tattoo painful?
As we mentioned earlier, tattoo pain, tenderness, and swelling are a completely normal reaction of your skin to the tattooing process. Your skin has been continuously “stabbed” and penetrated by a tattoo needle, causing skin irritation, irritation of nerve endings, and overall discomfort and pain. Not to mention that the skin has to be stretched when tattooing, which also contributes to pain and soreness afterwards.
So, now that we know what your skin is going through, it’s not that weird that it hurts, is it? The skin just needs to have its moment to properly react to all the “torture” it has just endured, and it does so by being sore, swollen, red, tender, and sore.
2. How long will the tattoo be painful?
As your new tattoo behaves like a fresh, open wound, it will take some time to begin to close and heal. The first 3 days are crucial as the tattoo gets rid of all excess blood and plasma. The skin begins to dry out and form a new layer of skin to protect the tattoo.
At this point, your follow-up routine should kick in. You should wash your tattoo, leave it uncovered to breathe and dry, and after a few days you should start moisturizing it.
However, your tattoo will still be painful and sensitive. Such a state can last between 3 to 7 days, which are usually crucial for the healing of tattoos. This will happen if you follow the aftercare instructions correctly and no infection has developed in the meantime.
Certain factors prolong the pain of the tattoo. For example, if your immune system is weak or if you have recently been ill, your tattoo is more likely to be painful for a week, as the body needs more time to deal with pain, irritation and ” damages’ the skin.
3. How do I know if the tattoo is painful, infected or if I have an allergic reaction?
If your tattoo has been sore, red, and swollen for more than 7 days, you likely have a tattoo infection. If your tattoo is also oozing (which should have stopped after a day or two), you also have a serious infection. It’s time to seek medical attention. So, contact your doctor or tattoo artist and seek immediate help.
Here is a list of normal tattoo reactions at the very beginning, so as not to confuse aches and redness with an infection;
- Redness around the tattoo
- Bleeding and oozing after removing the dressing
- Blood, plasma and excess ink for a single day
These symptoms are completely normal if they occur between 3 and 7 days. If your tattoo continues to bleed, ooze, swell, and hurt after a week, it’s time to call the doctor because you might have a tattoo infection. Here are the main signs of a tattoo infection;
- Prolonged pain, swelling and redness
- Increase in pain
- Continuous bleeding, oozing and drainage from the tattoo
- Rash and bump formation around the tattoo
- Fever, chills, sweating and chills
Some people tend to confuse a tattoo infection with an allergic reaction to the ink. For those who don’t know, some people are allergic to the ink, so they develop an allergic reaction, either straight away during the tattoo or after the tattoo. Here are the main signs that you are having a allergic reaction;
- The persistence of pain, swelling and redness around the tattoo
- Dermatitis, usually caused by red ink (because it contains mercury sulphide which causes dermatitis)
- Excessive photosensitivity when exposed to the sun
- Bumps form around the tattoo
- Rashing, scaling and bumps
Allergic reactions to ink are often treated with topical creams, but if left untreated they can develop into serious reactions. In such cases, the tattoo should be completely removed.
4. Are certain parts of the body more prone to tattoo pain?
Sure thing; some parts of the body actually handle the tattooing process less well than others. Parts of the body that are more prone to severe pain during tattooing will also be prone to severe pain afterwards. For example, bony areas or areas with thin skin and lots of nerve endings will be sore and painful for a longer period of time. Due to the tenderness of the area, the body will need more time to heal it.
So if you want your tattoo to heal faster and not stay sore for too long, go for areas with thicker skin and more fat. Avoid areas such as ankles, inner arms, shoulder blades, feet, palms and hands, front of neck, face, chest, elbows, chest, etc.
5. Can the tattoo artist contribute to the pain of the tattoo?
Of course they can! The way your tattoo artist works can either prevent a lot of pain or make the tattoo more sore and swollen afterwards. Generally, if the tattoo artist is not too experienced, or even familiar with their tattoo gun, they can overwork the tattoo and, as a result, leave you with pain, swelling, and other issues. Here’s how your tattoo artist can make your tattoo problematic.
- Lack of experience
- Lack of mastery of tools
- Underworking or overworking the tattoo
- Have a heavy hand with the tattoo gun
- Penetrating the skin from odd angles
- Going too deep into the skin (causing a rash)
- Not taking enough breaks while tattooing
6. How can I ease tattoo pain?
We believe tattoos are a matter of proper aftercare. Without a proper aftercare routine, your tattoo will not only stay sore longer, but will likely develop inflammation and infection. Therefore, you simply follow the aftercare recommendations of your tattoo artists. If you haven’t received follow-up advice, here’s what to do;
- Leave the bandage on the tattoo for at least one night
- After removing the bandage, wash the tattoo with clean hands and unscented soap
- Leave the tattoo uncovered and let it breathe
- Only start moisturizing the tattoo after 2 or 3 days; it’s never a good idea to put lotion on a fresh wound
- Wash the tattoo once in the morning and once in the evening; moisturize after cleansing only
- Do not put Vaseline on the tattoo; only a reflection coat when you shower, which you will wipe and wash after you finish showering
- Do not touch, pick, peel or scratch the tattoo
- Wear loose clothing and reduce chafing
- Avoid sun exposure and wear sunscreen
- Do not swim or spend time in the water
If you want to avoid prolonged pain, swelling, redness, and infection, you must follow these aftercare rules thoroughly and regularly. They will not only ensure that your tattoo handles pain quickly, but also that it stays shiny, vibrant and well-maintained after healing. Without aftercare, your tattoo may remain dull, and if infected, it may completely change the appearance.
7. Should I take painkillers to treat tattoo pain?
Many consider it logical to take painkillers when the tattoo hurts or is sore and swollen. However, instead of easing pain, painkillers may actually cause more harm than good.
Painkillers are known to contain things like ibuprofen. Because of this, they can cause blood thinning, which in the case of tattoos is a bad idea. Since your tattoo is fresh and probably still bleeding and oozing a little, painkillers can thin the blood and cause the tattoo to bleed too much. This alone can lead to inflammation and infection.
So, to avoid blood thickening issues and for your tattoo to heal properly, avoid taking painkillers. The pain and soreness of the tattoo will go away in a few days, so the mess and health issues are not worth it. If you can’t manage the pain, we recommend talking to your doctor and looking for alternatives to pain relievers, such as CBD oil.
Tattoo pain is a completely normal phenomenon after a new tattoo. It usually doesn’t last long, and if it does, it often indicates inflammation or infection in the tattoo. In this case, be sure to contact your doctor or tattoo artist and seek immediate help.
To ease tattoo pain, avoid taking painkillers and focus on following a proper aftercare routine. Do not touch, pick, peel or scratch your tattoo, otherwise it will remain painful longer or you may cause infection.
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