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When Can You Scratch Your Tattoo Without Causing Any Damage?

by  Kin Liu -  Last updated on August 11, 2021

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The joy of having a new tattoo is a happiness unlike any other. The thrill that you receive from expressing yourself and showcasing some tailor-made, unique, one-of-a-kind art can last for a long time. It just feels great to have a new tattoo.

However, there are also downsides to getting new ink. The biggest drawback of a fresh tattoo is the itchiness. It’s true, new tattoos itch – sometimes a lot.

And you can imagine that if you are getting large swathes of your body covered in tattoos, you are going to experience a lot of itching.

When you itch, you want to scratch. That is a natural reaction. However, is it safe to scratch a new tattoo? Are you able to give yourself relief or should you refrain from scratching your tattoos to avoid any sort of damage to them? How can you get rid of the itchiness without ruining the fresh art you have on your body?

Why Do Tattoos Itch?

Before we discuss if you can scratch a tattoo, we should discuss why you need to in the first place. What is it about tattoos that makes them so itchy? It has a lot to do with how the body heals. When you think about it, getting a tattoo is literally doing damage to your skin.

A tattoo needle gun penetrates the five layers of the epidermis. An average tattoo rounds out to about 50 and 3,000 skin penetrations a minute, which is an awful lot for the body to deal with.

After the tattoo is finished, the body will do the hard work of healing itself. The natural healing process can cause a lot of discomfort and itchiness as scabs form and the body’s immune system attempts to engulf and push out the foreign matter, otherwise known as the ink pigment.

As the healing continues, the epidermis layers start flaking away. This will lead to dryness and sometimes extreme itchiness. As the skin continues to heal, collagen will begin to grow and will mend the body and will relieve the itchiness.

In reality, the feeling of itchiness on your skin after a new tattoo is actually a good thing. It is a sign that your body is healing and taking care of itself. In fact, you should be alarmed if you are experiencing no itchiness.

At least mild itching irritation is expected and is nothing to be alarmed about. Tattoo artists will inform you that this is just part of the healing process.

Scratching a New Tattoo Without Damaging It

So it is possible for you to scratch yourself without ruining your new tattoo? The short answer is no, scratching a new tattoo is not a good idea and is something that all artists will advise against.

A little irritation against the skin won’t immediately ruin your tattoo but it is best to treat your new tattoo like an open wound, which it essentially is. Therefore, you need to try your hardest to not press anything hard against it or scratch it for the first few weeks after it is completed.

A few scratches here and there are one thing, and totally permitted. Yet, anything more than that could cause damage. But what can you do if you are experiencing dry, itchy skin after your tattoo is finished? Are you just doomed to feel that discomfort until the healing process is done? Absolutely not, there are solutions for you.


The best thing you can do for your skin when it is feeling itchy is hydrate it. You should make sure that you are drinking lots of fluids after you get a new tattoo.

It’s most important that you drink water more than any other fluid since that is the most effective drink that will lead to the most immediate hydration. Staying hydrated stops skin from drying out and will halt the itchiness on your new tattoo.

Clean your tattoo

Another thing you should do is clean your tattoo – and clean it well. Your tattoo artist will give you specific cleaning instructions for you and you should follow them closely.

Cleaning the new tattoo regularly will avoid any contact with bacteria and will prevent any serious infections. When you are using soaps, make sure they are unscented and antimicrobial as well.

Use tattoo aftercare products

Finally, a lotion is good for your skin after you get your tattoo. There are many specially-made tattoo aftercare lotions. These lotions will keep your skin hydrated, soft, and healthy. In fact, some of the lotions you can buy actually assist the healing process of the skin.

If used often and correctly, these sorts of lotions will help decrease the tattoo healing times and will get rid of excessive dryness and scabbing. If you experience excessive dryness and itchiness, especially after several weeks of recovery, you should contact your artist and your doctor.

Some bodies react to tattoos in different ways. There is a chance that your body will not accept the tattoo and could have an adverse reaction to it. The healing process for a new tattoo can last three weeks, or even more.

If you are experiencing strong itchiness and irritation and dryness for several weeks after that, there is a chance that something is wrong with the healing process. Still, even then you shouldn’t scratch your tattoo under any circumstances. 

Finding the best lotion for tattoo aftercare is not easy. Luckily you can rely on our buying guide (read here) to find the right product. 


Scratching your new tattoo is never a good idea. Scratching at the new ink is like scratching at an open wound. It can only cause more problems and can slow down and impair the healing process.

However, just because you cannot and should not scratch your new tattoo doesn’t mean you can’t find relief from the itchiness. There are plenty of products that you can buy – such as lotions and soaps – that will help the healing process and will also help prevent more irritation and itchiness.

These should be applied to the tattooed area right after the ink is done being applied. By using these, following a standard aftercare routine, and not scratching your new tattoo, you ensure that your new art will look bright and vibrant for a long time to come.

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