Blisters are not only painful but when they happen on a new tattoo, they can be extremely concerning. There are numerous factors that could contribute to why you’re forming a blister on your tattoo, and some are more worrisome than others.
Read on to find out potential causes as well as recommended treatment for tattoo blisters.
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Related: Tattoo Rash Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment
What Causes a Tattoo Blister?
Tattoos that are healing can go through a variety of stages and scabbing processes that look different for every ink and for every person. A blister is quite uncommon and usually a cause for concern. It occurs when moisture is trapped under the healing epidermis, forming a bubble.
Excess moisture gathering under your scab could be caused by a few factors.
Some people use ointment during the first few days of their new tattoo. Unfortunately, some skin does not react well to this topical treatment and may in fact form blisters, as the wound struggles to heal through the product. If this occurs, wash the tattoo and clean off the product carefully and stop using it entirely.
The primary cause of the formation of blisters on a new tattoo is due to applying moisturizer prior to the completion of the weeping stage of your tattoo, using too much product on your skin, or reapplying moisturizer too frequently. Putting too much lotion on a tattoo is a common error, and unlike severely dry skin, or skin issues like eczema, too much moisturizer can present healing complications for your tattoo.
Any moisturizer applied to a tattoo should be immediately absorbed by your skin. Blot off any excess product with a paper towel.
Failing to Dry Your Tattoo
One other cause of blistering on a tattoo is not patting your tattoo dry every time it is washed or comes into contact with water. If you do not allow your tattoo to dry completely before putting on clothing or adding a moisturizer, the moisture will get trapped on your tattoo and could lead to blistering.
Infection or Allergic Reaction
In rare cases, the blisters on your new tattoo could be a result of an allergic reaction or an infection. Allergic reactions could be caused by the tattoo ink itself or an aftercare product being used which causes the irritation. If you eliminate the external trigger and still notice the blisters, you could have an infection.
An infection is often the result of an unsanitary tattooing environment or tools, a cheap tattoo or ink, or improper aftercare. Infections are paired with other symptoms such as:
- Rashes or redness
- Streaking that extends beyond the tattoo
- Oozing pus
- Weird and thick scabbing
- Skin feeling hot to the touch
- Fever or chills
If you believe your tattoo blisters are the result of an infection, seek out medical assistance immediately.
Treatment of Tattoo Blisters
The first rule of thumb is to never try to pick at or pop your blisters. This is because it could open your tattoo up to infection while also permanently distorting your ink through scarring or ink loss. While most blisters heal and fade away on their own, there are other ways to soothe this painful experience.
Apply a Cool Compress
Blisters burn, so the easiest way to get instant relief is to apply a cool compress to the area. Remember that a cold compress or ice should never be applied directly onto your new tattoo, and never for more than 20 minutes at a time. Remember to pat your tattoo dry after every session.
For more information, check out our article, Should You Ice A New Tattoo? - Safety Tips For Swollen Ink.
Take a Painkiller
Over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol will help relieve the pain of these blisters while simultaneously combatting the swelling. Remember to avoid blood thinners such as Aspirin which could complicate the healing process further.
Use Aloe Vera
If you wish to continue using a moisturizer for your tattoo but also want relief for your painful blisters, try using aloe vera. This product absorbs very quickly and it has numerous healing benefits, such as combating burns and irritation. It will feel cool on contact, as well.
For more information, have a look at our article, Can You Put Aloe Vera On Tattoos? A Guide For Aloe & Ink.
See a Dermatologist
If you are ever concerned about your blisters or worried about how to properly soothe or treat them, the safest and most responsible decision would be to see a dermatologist. Sometimes they may also pop the blisters with sterile tools and prescribe antibiotic topical treatments to heal the area.
If you are unable to narrow down an external cause for these blisters, it is always best to speak to a professional so you don’t put your tattoo or yourself at risk.
Our Final Thoughts
Blisters are not common when it comes to the healing of a new tattoo, and you should try to narrow down potential causes. If your blisters are paired with any other symptoms of potential infection such as extreme swelling, redness, fever, or chills, you should seek medical attention immediately. Like all scabbing, if you do notice blistering, monitor them carefully but do not pick at or try to pop them.