Everyone always says how awesome it is to have a new tattoo. People usually mention issues like pain during the tattoo process as the only downside of getting a tattoo. However, what everyone fails to mention is the journey that follows after leaving the tattoo parlor with fresh ink.
The aftercare process you need to follow until the tattoo heals can actually make or break it. One mistake, and you risk your entire tattoo. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been unlucky and your tattoo isn’t healing properly. it’s all raised and maybe swollen or itchy, isn’t it?
Well, lucky for you, we’re interested in the issues people have with their tattoo aftercare, so don’t worry. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss the possible causes of a raised tattoo and how you can fix it. So let’s get started!
Is your tattoo raised? – Possible causes and how to react
The formation of scabs and scabs
As you may know, getting a tattoo means having an open wound on your skin. During the tattooing process, your skin is pricked thousands of times, causing the body to react as if it were reacting to an actual injury. The immune system fights to heal the “wound” as quickly as possible, which in this case takes time, even a few days.
That is why your tattoo in the early days does not look raised. The body is still getting rid of excess ink, blood and plasma resulting from the tattooing process. Once it has finished oozing and is cleaned and left to dry, your tattoo will begin to form a new layer of skin.
As a result, you will notice your tattoo appearing raised, as well as the formation of a scab or scabs. This is a completely normal process when accompanied by other symptoms like itching and falling off scabs.
In this case, patience will be your greatest virtue. The scabs forming and their own falling off is a waiting game that you can’t really do much about. In fact, there are some things you can or cannot do. For instance;
- You should NOT touch or peel off the scabs; this will prolong the healing process and possibly lead to infection
- You can apply a thin layer of mild, gentle, fragrance-free ointment or lotion to rehydrate the skin and relieve itching.
- You must NOT scratch the tattoo at all costs
Possible tattoo infection
If the tattoo healing process is accompanied by a swollen, red, and painful tattoo area, chances are your tattoo is showing signs of infection. This means that your tattoo should be medically treated as soon as possible.
Infections are, unfortunately, likely to occur for so many different reasons. Maybe the tattoo artist didn’t properly sterilize the workspace or the tools. Maybe the tattoo ink got contaminated (which unfortunately is quite common), or you just touched the tattoo with dirty hands and introduced bacteria to it.
Some common tattoo infections include abscesses, tissue necrosis, septic shock, toxic shock syndrome, cellulitis, etc.
Whatever the cause of the infection, your tattoo, once infected, will become raised, swollen, burning and painful. In such a case, the best thing to do is to consult a doctor. You would be prescribed antibiotics and appropriate treatment. However, in the process of treating the infection, your tattoo might end up looking a bit messed up.
If you have a fever while the tattoo is healing, chills, or sweats, you need to get to the emergency room or emergency department as soon as possible!
Allergic reaction to tattoo
An allergic reaction to the tattoo can occur right after the tattoo or a few days later, just like a tattoo infection. Almost everyone who has had an allergic reaction didn’t know they were allergic to the ink or the latex gloves used by their tattoo artist. These are the two most common causes of an allergic reaction.
The reason for this is that tattoo ink can either be contaminated or contain ingredients (like metals and plastic) that can promote skin irritation or skin breakdown. On the other hand, latex gloves, or latex in general, have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people, resulting in swelling, irritation, and pushing of the skin.
Now, before the actual tattoo process, you need to make sure that your tattoo artist is using high quality tattoo ink. Next, be sure to ask the tattoo artist to use nitrile gloves instead of latex gloves, or just check what gloves they’re using, then ask for a change if needed.
In the event of an allergic reaction itself, here is what you can do;
- Wait a few hours to see if the reaction will subside on its own.
- To prevent the reaction from getting worse, you can apply a topical steroid ointment or use antihistamines.
- If the tattoo continues to lift/swell, become painful and burning, it’s time to seek emergency medical attention. Some reaction symptoms also include vomiting and fever, which also require immediate medical attention.
Other than that, there is not much you can do without proper medical examination and treatment. You can also talk to your tattoo artist and see if they used latex gloves or possibly contaminated ink.
Possible skin disorder (undetected)
Many people don’t know they are dealing with a skin condition until their skin is exposed to some sort of outside “aggressor”, which in this case would be a tattoo. Not all skin conditions are visible.
There are conditions like eczema or dermatitis that you are probably familiar with. However, some skin conditions only get worse when aggravated by the needle, the ink, or the whole healing process.
That’s why it’s best to have your skin checked by a dermatologist before getting a tattoo. The doctor will observe your skin closely and see if it might be sensitive to certain conditions. Some dermatologists even investigate the possibility of developing skin cancer. In case a tattoo covers the signs on the skin that cancer is there, it is good to know this information.
Now, the best thing you can do is speak to a medical professional to confirm that you are dealing with a skin condition.
Then you can go through the whole tattoo process and try to remember what kind of gloves your tattoo artist used. If they used latex gloves, chances are you’re dealing with an allergic reaction, causing your skin to heave and react.
Other than that, there’s not much you can do. You just need to talk to a professional and follow their recommendations and treatment instructions.
Possible tattoo rash
During tattooing, a tattoo artist will push the needle into the specific layer of skin, called the dermis, where the needle will create a vacuum for the ink to sit in. However, some inexperienced or clumsy tattoo artists tend to penetrate deeper into the skin. , passing the dermis layer.
As a result, the ink begins to spread and move beyond the lines of the tattoo, leading to increased tattooing and possible healing issues. This is known as a tattoo blowout.
In some cases, because the tattoo artist goes too deep into the skin, the tattoo may also develop skin scars. As a result, the skin lifts and stays, especially in keloid type scars.
If there is a breakout, there is nothing you can do until the tattoo is completely healed. Only then can the rash be treated with the help of laser correction, full laser tattoo removal, or tattoo concealment.
Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about scars. Some people use temporary solutions, such as makeup or moisturizing lotions to replenish the skin. But that’s about all you can do, other than embrace your tattoo scar and wear it proudly. After all, isn’t a scar a kind of tattoo in itself?
Also Read: Tattoo Scars: Is It Normal and How to Fix It (All You Need to Know)
Other things that could make you increase your tattoo
- A normal bodily reaction – in some cases, there is nothing wrong with the tattoo; it’s just the body’s way of dealing with a foreign object, so it makes it heave a little every once in a while. However, if your tattoo lifts and stays that way, even without any symptoms of infection or allergic reaction, you should still speak to a medical professional and have your tattoo examined.
- Weather changes – during the summer, due to the increased humidity, your tattoo may stretch and swell a little. To prevent this from happening, be sure to apply a layer of high SPF sunscreen to the tattoo if it is going to be exposed. During the winter, on the other hand, the tattoo can be affected by the cold, which promotes dryness of the skin, rashes, itching and lifting. Be sure to apply moisturizers and keep the tattooed skin hydrated (through lotions and regular water intake).
- Get an MRI – because ink tends to contain metals, it tends to react to magnetic forces as it passes through an MRI. The metals are pulled towards the machine causing the tattoo to lift, puff up and burn. In this case, all you can do is see a doctor and explain how you had an MRI and what happened to the tattoo.
Experiencing a raised tattoo is quite common; you’d be surprised how many people, who have had a tattoo for years, still occasionally experience tattoo lifting and swelling. This is because the ink will always be a foreign object in your body reacting to inner and outer changes.
Unless tattoo placement is followed by painful swelling, burning and tenderness, or in severe cases vomiting and fever, you have nothing to worry about. Just be sure to keep the tattoo well maintained, clean, moisturized and protected from the sun. In all other cases, be sure to consult a doctor immediately.
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