Ingrown hairs are a pain all on their own, but with a tattoo they can be extremely irritating and sometimes worrisome. On a new tattoo, you need to be extra vigilant with this problem so you don’t cause any damage to the tattoo itself. On an older tattoo, it’s a bit easier to care for ingrown hairs. We narrow down the causes and the treatment for ingrown hair on tattoos.
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What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Our hair grows out of something called a follicle which sits in our upper dermis, and it comes up through the epidermis. When we cut hair through a process like shaving or hair removal creams, we are just slicing the hair exactly where it sits at the exit point of the epidermis. This does not remove the hair from the follicle point, like plucking hair will do.
What may happen is that as the hair tries to poke through and exit the epidermis again, it can get stuck and then curve inwards, growing down. This creates a welt, pimple, or bump and it can be rather painful.
What Causes Ingrown Hair on a Tattoo?
When you go and get a new tattoo, artists will often shave the area prior to a session to ensure they are not interrupted as they are tattooing the skin. As your skin is healing, your hair may have difficulty trying to break through the skin regeneration that is happening over your wound, and this could result in an ingrown hair on your new tattoo.
Ingrown hairs are not caused by infections, allergic reactions, or worrisome symptoms of your tattooing process. But they could be caused by the aftercare products you are using, which may be blocking your hair from growing back normally.
Ingrown hairs can happen on older tattoos at any point in time, as well.
Is Your Tattoo Safe?
If you notice an ingrown hair beginning to form on a tattoo, don’t panic. This cannot distort your tattoo or the settling of your ink, as the ink is deposited in your lower dermis. Once it goes away or finally breaks through the surface, it will have no impact on your tattoo.
The only way an ingrown hair could damage your tattoo is how you handle this issue when it happens to a new tattoo.
Treating Ingrown Hairs on a Tattoo
When you get an ingrown hair on a new tattoo, you have to be very careful. Trying to pop or pull at the ingrown hair with tweezers could disturb the healing process of your wound, or may also lead to infection of your tattoo due to the pus that may be gathering beneath the welt.
You need to let the ingrown hair heal on its own. You can put a cold compress on the area to relieve the pain, but this should be done safely. You can also adjust your aftercare products to a non-comedogenic line, to ensure you will not have any more ingrown hairs. We recommend treating your ingrown hair like you would treat a pimple on a new tattoo, and to not risk picking or scratching at it and distorting your ink through scarring or infection.
When you get an ingrown hair on an old tattoo, the process is less meticulous. You can use a tweezer to help pull the hair through the skin to ease the painful welt, or you could treat it with medicated creams. There is less sensitivity and healing is not impacted, so the process is much simpler. Just be sure to thoroughly clean the area as you don’t want to cause scarring on your tattooed area.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs on a Tattoo
Ingrown hairs just happen and truly can’t be anticipated.
The best way to prevent them is to ensure you are shaving with a new, sharp blade, shaving in the direction of your hair growth first, and then going against the grain. Don’t press too hard as you shave, and ensure you are keeping the area well moisturized. Have a look at our article on shaving with a tattoo for more information.
You can also purchase products such as cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreen which are non-comedogenic, which means they will not clog your pores. A breathable layer on your tattoo means your hair is less likely to struggle when it tries to break the surface.
Our Final Thoughts
There is no need to worry about the presence of ingrown hair on a tattoo. Although they can be quite painful to deal with, they will not impact the art on your skin. Proper aftercare measures, careful shaving, and using non-comedogenic products are the easiest way to prevent this tedious skin issue from appearing on your ink.