Tattoos and Eczema: Are They a Bad Idea?

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Eczema is a common skin condition involving red, itchy, and chronically dry skin.  Thinking about getting a tattoo but worried about aggravating your eczema? Fear not! In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about tattoos and eczema.  

Eczema and Tattoos

Having eczema doesn’t mean you can’t get a tattoo – but it does mean you need to assess the state of your skin and do some research before committing. After all, getting a tattoo is a big decision and the risk factors are heightened for those with eczema.  

Because eczema is an inflammatory skin condition, the skin often flares-up when exposed to irritants.  Getting a tattoo involves injecting colored ink under several layers of the skin using a tiny needle. While it’s possible to get a tattoo with eczema, the sensitivity of eczema-prone skin may lead to an allergic reaction from the dyes used – particularly if color dyes are used. 

Risk Factors

Eczema not only puts you at a higher risk of reacting badly to the dyes used, but the process of getting a tattoo can lead to a bad flare-up. Picture this: a heated needle is repeatedly stabbing your sensitive skin.  It’s similar to scratching yourself repeatedly, only worse!  The heat, the needle, and the foreign substance being injected into the skin could all trigger eczema and cause a flare-up

The risk of infection is also increased, especially if you experience a flare-up while getting a tattoo. A flare-up could also potentially change the look of your tattoo, either temporarily or permanently, even years later. 

Other possible risk factors of getting a tattoo with eczema: 

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Increased itchiness while the skin is healing
  • Scarring from a tattoo 
  • Development of keloids 

Bear in mind that everyone’s skin is different.  Some people may experience no trouble at all when getting a tattoo while others might have a bad reaction. Be sure to consult your doctor or dermatologist before making a decision.  

Tips for Getting a Tattoo with Eczema

To help you have a safe and successful tattoo experience, here are some tips for getting a tattoo with sensitive skin:

Go to a Reputable Tattoo Artist

This is not the time to try to save a few dollars by trusting an amateur or partaking in any backyard operations. For your safety, go to a professional and read the reviews. It would be extra beneficial if your tattoo artist already has experience with eczema-prone skin.  

Research Tattoo Ink

Tattoo ink comes in different varieties. Speak to your tattoo artist about the different types of tattoo ink (and their ingredients) to determine which one is best for sensitive skin. Bear in mind that your tattoo artist may have to order the ink in advance. 

Do a Patch Test First

To reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, do a patch test with your chosen ink before getting your permanent tattoo.  This involves injecting a small amount of dye into your skin and then waiting a few days to see if any reaction occurs.  

Pick your Tattoo Spot Carefully

If possible, get your tattoo in an area that isn’t prone to eczema. 

Reschedule your Appointment if Necessary

If you’re experiencing a flare-up or have an open wound, reschedule your appointment until the flare-up has passed and your wound is healed. 

Caring for Your Tattoo When You Have Eczema 

Properly caring for your tattoo is important, especially if you suffer from eczema. Here are some tips:

Avoid Scratching:  This may be obvious, but it has to be said.  Scratching will aggravate your eczema and may cause the ink to weep or run, potentially ruining your tattoo!  These Bamboo Gloves are a great way to protect your skin from scratching, especially at night when you may be scratching unknowingly. 

To help relieve itchiness and inflammation, you can try taking an oatmeal bath once it’s safe to do so. We love this Conqueror Oatmeal Bath for Eczema because of its simple yet effective ingredients. Made with dead sea salt, coconut milk powder and vitamin C, this natural eczema soak provides soothing regenerative benefits for dry skin. 

Avoid Water: Use a wet cloth or paper towel to clean your tattoo. Don’t completely submerge it in water. 

Stay Moisturized: Keeping the tattooed area hydrated is crucial. We recommend this Manuka Honey Cream because of its non-burning formula.  Made with just six ingredients, including Manuka honey, beeswax and organic tree nut-free oils, it’s a soft and gentle balm to nourish your sensitive skin. 

References:

https://atopicdermatitis.net/living/tattoo-eczema/

https://www.healthline.com/health/eczema/tattoos-eczema

https://www.oureczemastory.com/eczema-and-tattoos/

Laura is a contributor and content developer for It’s An Itchy Little World. She is in no way a medical professional. Her comments, suggestions, and reflections are not intended to replace any medical advice. Always seek the help of a medical professional before undertaking any diet or lifestyle changes. Please see It’s An Itchy Little World’s disclaimer for information about affiliate links and more.

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