If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve just gotten a tattoo for the first time and are dealing with tattoo scabs. We know scabs can sound scary, but there’s a reason they form. But if the scabs start to bleed, you could be dealing with a serious underlying problem. So, if you have noticed that your tattoo scabs are bleeding, you have come to the right place.
Learning about this issue is essential for your next steps, so be sure to keep reading. In the following paragraphs, we will cover everything you need to know about tattoo scabs, bleeding, and how to prevent or manage them. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Tattoo scabs: everything you need to know
What are crusts?
A tattoo scab or scab, in general, is a layer of protective tissue that forms over damaged skin. Remember when you were little, playing in the park, every time you fell, a kind of scab would form where you injured yourself. It was a scab that formed to protect the skin underneath and help it regenerate in a safe environment.
Crusts are, to some extent, a completely normal phenomenon. They usually dry out as the skin heals, then they fall off on their own.
Why do scabs form on tattoos?
As mentioned, scabs form on damaged or injured skin. Now the tattoo, even if it doesn’t look like it, damages the skin, so a fresh tattoo is considered an open wound. And, like all other wounds and wounds, the tattoo must also heal.
It can take weeks for a tattoo to fully heal, but the first 7-10 days are crucial for skin tightness. This is when tattoo scabs begin to form to ensure that the tattooed skin underneath heals properly and closes the wound simultaneously. You can expect the scabs to start forming by the day or 4 into the healing of the tattoo.
How long do the scabs remain on the tattoo?
Now, depending on many factors, tattoo scabs can persist between one and two weeks. The thickest scabs should fall off by the end of the third week of the healing process. Some of the factors that affect how quickly the scab forms and how long it stays on the skin are as follows;
- tattoo placement
- The size and color of the tattoo
- Skin type and skin sensitivity
- Personal healing time (depending on your health and the body’s ability to cope with wounds and tattoo ink)
- Weather and air temperature
- Hydration and hydration of the skin
- Nutrition, diet and general fitness of the body and metabolism
So, is tattoo scab normal?
Yes, to some extent tattoo scab is perfectly normal, and even expected and preferable during the healing process. Thanks to the formation of scabs, the tattoo can close and complete the healing process.
However, only a thin layer of crust is considered normal. The crust should be light and look like it is drying out and about to fall off.
But, if the crust is thick and heavy, or there is a lot of it, then you should be concerned. A thick scab can be an indicator of poor healing, an ink allergy, or even an infection. But along with the formation of scabs, these events are accompanied by swelling of the skin, redness, pain, oozing, bleeding and even high fever.
How should I take care of tattoo scabs?
One of the most important things about scabs is that you should never touch or peel them off. This can completely ruin the tattoo design and introduce bacteria into the tattoo. You can indirectly cause tattoo infection by messing with the scabs, and you don’t want that kind of problem.
Other than that, you can focus on moisturizing the tattoo properly, once or twice a day just to moisturize the skin. This will prevent large scabs from forming and ensure that they dry and fall off quickly and easily.
Always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with a mild, antibacterial soap before moisturizing or touching the tattoo. You don’t want to introduce germs and bacteria into an open, healing wound.
Why are my tattoo scabs bleeding?
Now, there are several reasons why tattoo scans bleed; these reasons are either caused by you or an underlying problem.
When the bleeding is caused by you, we mean that you have committed a sin considered cardinal in the tattoo community; picking up scabs from a fresh tattoo. By removing and peeling off the scabs, you can compromise the healing of the tattoo up to that point and re-expose sensitive, freshly tattooed skin.
This means that your tattoo has to redo all the healing from the beginning, which is riskier now than before. Why? Well, now you’ve introduced bacteria and germs to a healing tattoo, which could lead to infection. Also, you may have messed up the design and even caused the ink to leak.
However, if you haven’t touched or peeled the scabs, but they’re still bleeding, chances are you’re dealing with an ink allergy or tattoo infection. However, bleeding scabs aren’t the only sign that you’re dealing with an allergic reaction or infection.
Both are accompanied by redness, swelling of the skin, excessive itching, rashes, tattoos, etc. Some people even experience fatigue, increased pain in the tattooed area, vomiting and fever. In such cases, emergency medical care is of the highest priority.
Thus, we can conclude that bleeding from scabies never occurs out of the blue. It is caused by certain external factors, such as the peeling of scabs, or internal inflammation caused by an allergic reaction to the ink or an infection.
Also read: Tattoo peeling: is it normal and how to fix it (everything you need to know)
What to do when the scabs bleed?
In case you have touched or peeled off the scabs, here is how you can manage the bleeding;
- Contact your tattoo artist – explain to your tattoo artists what happened and ask them for some advice. Tattoo artists deal with different types of clients all the time, so they’re no stranger to people picking and peeling scabs. Tattoo artists are experts and professionals, so your personal tattoo artist should know how to help your tattoo continue the healing process.
- Be sure to clean the tattoo – the best thing to do with a bleeding scab is to wash and clean it. Be sure to use a mild, antibacterial tattoo soap and warm water. After washing everything, pat the tattooed area dry with a clean towel.
Do not use a paper towel as it may stick to the tattoo and cause other problems. Also, be sure to use the towel, as any remaining scabs may cling to the towel; if you push them, you can also peel them off.
- Keep the tattoo hydrated – after washing and drying the tattoo, be sure to apply moisturizers. Try using healing products containing panthenol, to help the skin recover and heal faster, without forming another layer of scabs.
Be sure to moisturize the tattoo at least twice a day, especially after washing, to prevent drying out. A dry tattoo is more likely to come from heavy crusting, which can lead to itching, cracking, potential bleeding, and infection.
- Remember to book a touch-up session – now the problem with tattoo crust bleeding is that it paves the way for ink to leak. For this reason, you can expect the fully healed tattoo not to look like you imagined. So you might as well book a touch-up session once the tattoo has completely healed. Your tattoo artist will make sure to repair the damaged parts and make sure the tattoo looks like the original design.
- Do not touch, pick or peel new or remaining scabs – it’s a deadly sin, which you should already have. But, to reiterate, do not touch, pick or peel any newly formed or remaining scabs. This can lead to further bleeding, thicker scabs, swelling of the skin, leaking ink, and finally infection.
If the tattoo scabs are bleeding, but you haven’t picked or peeled them off, you’re probably dealing with an infection or ink allergy. Either way, you should probably see a doctor and get proper diagnosis and treatment. Tattoo infections and ink allergies are usually accompanied by symptoms such as ink oozing, swelling of the skin, redness, rash, increased pain and even fever. So, keep an eye out for these symptoms as well to better understand what might be going on with your tattoo.
Tattoo scab is a normal phenomenon. You don’t have to worry about a few light tattoo scabs; it will eventually dry and fall off, revealing a beautifully healed tattoo. However, if you touch, pick or peel off the scabs from the tattoo, you can expect bleeding and damage to the tattoo. This will make a generally smooth healing process much more difficult.
On the other hand, if the tattoo scabs start to bleed on their own, you should probably go to the hospital and see if you are dealing with a tattoo infection or ink allergy. Either way, proper treatment will get you through such a situation, and a quick tattoo touch-up will make your tattoo look better.
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