Do you have pimples on Your Tattoo? The Best Way To Handle It

Everything you need to know about pimples on tattoos. Pimples can develop when an oil, dirt, or skin cell clogs a hair follicle.

There is no doubt that pimples can be a nuisance, no matter where they occur on your body. It can be particularly irritating if they appear on your tattoo, and may even be cause for concern. It is important to know a few things about pimples on a tattoo, and there are some things you can do to resolve the problem, so read on to learn more.

Why Do Tattoos Get Pimples?

If you do not know the cause of a breakout on your tattoo, you cannot effectively treat it. It is possible to develop pimples on a tattoo as a result of a number of factors:

  • In most cases, pimples on a tattoo are caused by clogged pores. A buildup of oil and sebum in the pores of the skin may draw dirt into the pores. Keeping the area clean and exfoliating the skin gently can help solve this problem.
  • Using excessive aftercare products – while caring for your tattoo is very important, you should avoid using excessive amounts of lotion or oil. As a result, your pores can become clogged and your recovery may be slowed. Do not use any petroleum-based products since they are very thick and make your skin difficult to breathe. Consider using products that have been specifically designed to promote tattoo healing and only use them as directed by your tattoo artist.
  • In allergic reactions, small bumps usually appear on the surface of the skin, which can be mistaken for pimples. There is a possibility that you may be experiencing fine pimples as a result of an allergic reaction. If you have a new tattoo, you may have a reaction to the latex used in the artist’s gloves or to the petroleum jelly used during the tattooing process.
    Does a tattoo’s design get damaged if it has pimples?

Is it possible to damage a tattoo due to acne?

It is unlikely that a pimple will cause any damage to your tattoo if it develops. The treatment of the pimple, however, can disrupt the ink and ruin your artwork if you are not careful. The risk of infection may even increase as a result.

You will find information below on how to properly care for pimples on new or old tattoos, symptoms to watch for, and more.

Pimple on My Tattoo

Although some people are concerned that pimples will permanently damage their new tattoo, the good news is that they are unlikely to do so. It may, however, disrupt the ink if you do not take care, or put you at greater risk of infection if you do not take precautions.

What Should I Know About New Tattoos and Pimples?

In the case of a new tattoo, a spot breakout is always more likely to occur. An open wound is caused by new body art, and therefore any bacteria that enters it may cause irritation or breakouts.

Generally speaking, you should not pop pimples, and if you pop one on a new tattoo, you may cause more harm than good. When you scratch, pick, and pop pimples on your tattoo, you will expose yourself to additional bacteria and, even if you do not contract an infection, it may displace the ink, causing faded and patchy areas in the design, as well as possible scarring.

Is it okay if an old tattoo has pimples?

Despite the fact that an old tattoo is not an open wound, the skin around it remains extremely delicate. Consequently, popping pimples even on an old tattoo is not recommended. If you pick at the pimple, even if it is above the ink deposits, you may cause a visible scar as well as an infection.

The effects of pimples on old tattoos

Despite the fact that older tattoos are no longer considered open wounds, tattooed skin is still extremely delicate.

If you have developed a pimple, you should not pick or pop it. Picking can still cause visible scarring even if the pimple is far above the ink deposits. There is still a possibility of infection.

What is the best way to treat pimples on a tattoo?

If you have pimples on your tattoo, here are some tips to help you treat them:

  • The area should never be popped, scratched, or picked.
  • Make sure that the products you use do not contain any additives or fragrances.
  • When applying the product to the skin, use small circular motions to rub the product into the skin, as scrubbing may damage the skin.
  • Make sure you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist.
  • To keep the skin hydrated and balanced, wash carefully to remove oil and dirt from the pores, and follow up with a fragrance-free moisturizer.
  • If you intend to use an acne-fighting product on a tattoo, you must first speak with the artist. Although salicylic acid may heal pimples, it may also damage tattoos, causing them to fade and lose their color.

My tattoo appears to have pimples, but are they actually pimples?

The pimple on your tattoo might not be a pimple at all if it does not go away within a couple of weeks. There are several possible causes of a pimple-like bump, including:

  • In order to protect your new tattoo from excessive moisture, some tattoo artists recommend using a thick moisturizer. The use of a thick product during the healing process is a good idea, however, once the tattoo has healed, it may not be necessary to use one. When you apply too much moisture to your skin, anyone with combination or oily skin may develop pimples. As soon as your tattoo has fully healed, you can switch to a thinner moisturizer to prevent these irritations.
  • In cases of irritation, there can be lumps that resemble pimples and are itchy, red, or pink in color. It is possible for irritation to result from climate change, insufficient moisture, or chemical exposure, but it is possible to soothe the affected area by applying aloe vera gel or oatmeal-based lotion.
  • It is important to note that allergies are not limited to runny noses and sneezing. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from allergies to experience skin problems. A very itchy, large, red lump on the skin may indicate the presence of hives. They will appear in clusters and will be flat. A rash that is red and itchy is characteristic of dermatitis, which is also an allergic reaction. Over-the-counter allergy medications are available for the treatment of allergy symptoms.
  • Pimple-like bumps on tattoos are more likely to be caused by infections. As a result of bacteria and germs being introduced into the skin and the bloodstream, they occur. There is a possibility that these bumps will swell and become pus-filled. Inflammation and redness may also be present on the skin surrounding them. Your infected tattoo will need to be treated by a physician.

When I develop pimples on my tattoo, should I consult a physician?

You may need to consult a dermatologist if the pimples on your tattoo do not resolve after treating them at home. Antibiotics may be required in the case of severe and widespread acne cysts. You should consult a physician as soon as possible if you experience any signs of an infection. The following are among them:

  • Skin that has been tattooed produces pus.
  • There is a raised, hard tissue area on the body.
  • A combination of cold and heat waves.
  • Once your tattoo artist has healed your skin completely, you may visit him or her again for a touch-up if you notice the ink is distorted due to picking the area.

In the event that you suspect that you are experiencing an allergic reaction, dermatologists recommend the following measures:

  • If you are experiencing a serious reaction, you should seek medical attention immediately.
    Symptoms of a serious reaction include: trouble breathing, racing heartbeat, tightness in the chest, dizziness or lightheadedness, stomachache, severe swelling, severe pain, flushing, or hives.
  • The tattoo artist should be informed of the mild or moderate reaction, and asked if anything needs to be done. It is advisable to consult a board-certified dermatologist if the reaction persists for longer than one or two weeks.
  • Symptoms of a mild or moderate reaction include: your inked skin changes, but you do not experience any other symptoms, such as trouble breathing or stomach discomfort.
Pimples On Tattoos

Two men, tattoo artist tattooing a man’s arm in his tattoo studio.

An outbreak of skin disease occurs

It is possible for a tattoo to cause certain conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, to develop on or around the tattoo.

There is a possibility that getting a tattoo will trigger certain conditions, such as psoriasis or eczema, to appear on or around the tattoo.

In the event that you carry the genes for psoriasis, getting a tattoo can cause a flare-up or the onset of psoriasis for the first time. There is also the possibility of other skin diseases developing within or around a tattoo.

Within 10 to 20 days following a tattoo, you are likely to notice signs of a skin condition. Ink can also cause the disease as early as three days after it has been applied. Sometimes, it shows up years later.

It is also possible for skin cancer to develop within a tattoo.

Symptoms of skin diseases: Around the tattoo, you may notice signs of the following conditions:

These conditions apply:

  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Vitiligo
  • Lichen planus
  • Keloid
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scars
  • Skin cancer

Take action:

If you are prone to scarring or have ever experienced a keloid scar that grew larger than the wound causing it, you should reconsider getting a tattoo. A tattoo that is scarred can appear unsightly.

In the event that you have already developed a scar or signs of skin disease, you should make an appointment with a board-certified dermatologist. A dermatologist is capable of minimizing the appearance of scars, diagnosing skin diseases, and developing treatment plans for these conditions. Make an appointment with a dermatologist.


American Academy of Dermatology. “Dermatologist warns consumers about complications linked to newer tattoo inks.” News release issued March 1, 2013. Last accessed July 20, 2018.

Bjerre RD, Ulrich NH, et al. “Adverse reactions to tattoos in the general population of Denmark.” J Am Acad Dermatol. (2018), doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2018.03.038. [Epub ahead of print]

Brady BG, Gold H, et al. “Self-reported adverse tattoo reactions: a New York City Central Park study.” Contact Dermatitis. 2015;73:91-9.

Cobb HK, Shinohara MM, et al. “Systemic contact dermatitis to a surgical implant presenting as red decorative tattoo reaction.” JAAD Case Reports. 2017;3:348-50.

Deinlein T, Arzberger E, et al. “A dangerous fruit of Belladonna.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;75:e93-e94.