Tattoos and Sensitive Skin: 3 Ways to Reduce Irritation and Inflammation Post-Tattoo

Posted September 28, 2022 by in Health + Fitness
woman laying down getting a shoulder tattoo

If you recently left the tattoo parlor you’re likely looking at the newly painted area of your skin thinking how great your new ink looks—and all of the compliments you’re about to get on it. But you’re also very likely dealing with itchiness, redness, and soreness that comes with it. Beauty is pain, and that statement never feels more true than right after getting a tattoo—whether it’s your first or you’re already several tattoos in.

The more fresh your tattoo is the itchier it probably feels. And if you have sensitive skin, forget about it, this might be a very difficult painful beauty to get through. That’s because your skin was just punctured, over and over again, with needles. But the good thing is that itchiness is completely normal and part of the process, so don’t worry if it’s unbearable right now. Fortunately, there are ways to help ease any discomfort you may have.

If you just got a tattoo and have sensitive skin, here are 3 ways to reduce irritation and inflammation post-tattoo:

Crop of woman's floral shoulder tattoo

Put on numbing cream

You can use Tattoo numbing cream to reduce irritation and inflammation. Numbing cream works to block targeted nerve endings through a small percentage of lidocaine. Many of the better brands contain natural ingredients so that individuals with sensitive skin don’t suffer from harsh chemicals that can be in the creams. Others are also paragon and epinephrine-free and don’t contain menthol. All you need to do is take the numbing cream and spread a thick coating of it evenly onto the area of sensitive skin. Then, immediately following, cover the applied area with plastic wrap and allow it to absorb for a given amount of time. Usually, that’s about an hour or so. 

When you purchase numbing cream there are a few ingredients you should look out for, to help ease the post-tattoo irritation and inflammation:

  • Lidocaine, which is used to block the nerve endings from sending your brain the signals of pain that it’s experiencing
  • Aloe extract, which, just like the way you apply it to sunburns or minor scrapes and burns, contains soothing properties that will reduce inflammation of the skin while simultaneously boosting the production of collagen. Plus, it’s cool to the touch.
  • Water that isn’t ionized, which is purified to reduce the toxins that come into contact with the skin
  • Calendula, is an ingredient extracted from the marigold flower that will naturally support your skin and its healing by lessening redness
  • Chamomile, is used in numbing cream to help expedite tattoo drying and healing
  • Green tea, which comes with a host of antioxidants
  • Comfrey, which comes from the Symphytum flower, aids in the production of new skin cells which give your skin a softer feel

Keep an eye out for these ingredients and feel confident that you’ve chosen a numbing cream that will work well with your skin.

Keep your tattoo moisturized

One of the best ways to soothe your new ink is to keep the skin cool and moisturized to the touch. But be careful about which moisturizers you use. Ones that contain harsh chemicals or strong fragrances can have the reverse effect, and actually cause your skin to become further irritated (this is definitely something you don’t want). Instead, ask the artist who did your tattoo which moisturizer they recommend so that it doesn’t potentially pull out the details and color of your tattoo.

Relax with a cool compress

Perhaps one of the oldest and tried and true ways to reduce inflammation and irritation is to apply a cool compress to the inflicted area. What you can do is simple. Merely take a small, clean towel and soak it in clean water (if you’re in an area where the tap water isn’t the best, and your skin is extra sensitive, you can pour filtered water on the towel). From here, you can either put it into the freezer or fridge for extra cooling temperatures. Then, dab it on your sensitive area for anywhere from five to 15 minutes, or until you begin to feel relief. The best part is that you can do this as many times a day as you need. However, it’s recommended to only do it a few times a day so the area doesn’t become further irritated by too much water.

As you’re reducing the irritation and inflammation of your post-tattoo, it’s important to know the signs of a normal reaction and a bad reaction. Redness, itchiness, and swelling are normal. However, if you notice the area becoming overly inflamed or sores beginning to form then consult your tattoo artist and doctor right away. While a reaction is normal you also want to be sure that the needle and ink used for your tattoo was clean, sterile, and won’t potentially pass on any infection. 

Woman showing off new tattoo

Use these three tips to reduce your post-tattoo treatment and be on your way to better skin.