Why Does My Tattoo Look Patchy? Blotchy Tattoos And Ink Loss Guide

Written by: Pete
Updated:

If you just got a tattoo and you’ve noticed that it has started to heal a bit patchy, blotchy, or with what appears to be ink loss, you might be in a bit of a panic. Because a tattoo is an open wound that goes through a very diverse healing process, there could be numerous reasons for the patchy appearance of your new tattoo. Our guide will help provide you some answers for this, and will help calm your nerves.

Why Do New Tattoos Look Blotchy?

Every single line and every single piece of coloring on your new tattoo experiences extremely diverse healing than the other parts of your new tattoo!! Some parts of the piece will heal faster than others, some may go through the scabbing process more quickly, and some pieces may appear to be patchy along the way.

This patchy period is more than likely a piece of your skin that is at a different stage of healing than the rest of your tattoo. Either some scabbing or dead skin has fallen off the area, giving the tattoo a blotchy appearance, or the skin is regenerating and creating a milk scab over certain parts of the tattoo and not others. Or you may be in a very dry stage of healing and your tattoo has a patchy and blotchy appearance; this is normal and usually just the sign of a tattoo that is healing properly.

The only real way to know whether this patchy appearance will dissipate is to give your tattoo time to heal. Some tattoos can take up to two months to heal, depending on the placement, complexity, and design.

When is Tattoo Patchiness Not Normal?

If you’ve given your tattoo a good month or more to heal and you’re noticing that it continues to look patchy and uneven, there could be a few reasons for this.

  • Exposing your tattoo to UV rays, especially during the healing stages, can cause ink loss and premature fading.
  • Picking at scabs or flakey skin can also pull away ink with it. This will leave patchy or blotchy spots on the region.
  • If you haven’t followed a proper aftercare regimen, your tattoo could have healed poorly and experienced ink loss. Follow our article, Tattoo Aftercare Advice - How Do I Care For My Tattoo?
  • Wearing tight clothing or going swimming during the healing stages could all contribute to significant ink loss in your tattoo, causing a blotchy appearance.
  • Going to an inexperienced artist with cheap inks could be the cause of a patchy tattoo, as well.

For these issues, they’re usually easily rectified with a touch-up after you’ve given your tattoo the one to two months to heal.

How Long Will My Tattoo Look Patchy For?

Every tattoo on every single body heals differently. Healing is influenced by design, placement, external conditions, and your body’s own immune system.

In general, tattoos take around three weeks to a month to heal, or at least until they enter the milk scab stage. I wouldn’t panic about the patchy or blotchy appearance of your tattoo unless you’ve given it at least two months to properly heal. During this time, maintain consistent and proper aftercare and it’s sure to vanish, along with all your worries.

If you’ve waited but are still seeing no improvement with your tattoo, you should ask your tattoo artist for advice. They’ll be able to tell you whether what you are experiencing is just another stage of tattoo healing, or whether your tattoo experienced some ink loss and needs a touch-up. Most shops offer one free touch-up on your tattoo.

A tattoo almost always looks worse before it looks great again. It’s important to remember a few factors if you’re panicking about the patchiness of your tattoo.

  • Don’t avoid showering just because you fear it may “damage” your new tattoo. It’s important that showering is part of your aftercare regimen, and there is a safe way to shower with a new tattoo.
  • Don’t pick at scabs or flakes of skin on your new tattoo.
  • When you apply moisturizer on your tattoo, make sure it is a thin layer that is absorbed quickly. Thick lotion or over-moisturizing can cause scabbing concerns which may add to the patchy appearance of your tattoo through ink loss.
  • Follow the aftercare advice of your tattoo artist throughout the healing process.

Our Final Thoughts

If your new tattoo is looking patchy or blotchy, more likely than not it’s perfectly fine, and our number one recommendation to you is to continue a careful aftercare regimen and allow your tattoo the time it needs to heal properly. Tattoos heal very strangely and often look very terrible before they look great again; don’t compare your healing process to someone else’s until you’ve given it ample time.

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