Can You Get Tattooed If Your Skin Is Peeling From Sunburn?

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It is the first day of autumn (when this article was created), so summer is officially gone. Until next year, all we can do is remain nostalgic for those wonderful, sunny, hot, summer days. But, some of you are still dealing with some late holiday sunbathing, which is of course sunburnt skin.

Now, if you’re anything like me and you’ve decided to go on a holiday at the end of August and the start of September, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It seems that the sunburn in this period takes longer to occur since the sunlight isn’t as intense as it is during the peak of the summer. However, there is the catch. You think it’s impossible to get sunburnt from this gentle, low-intensity sunbathing, but, here we are. Sunburnt and peeling. And, some of us have a tattoo to get.

So, what can you do? If this sounds like your kind of end-of-summer scenario, then you’re at the right place. Let’s talk about tattooing sunburnt, peeling skin, and why you should probably reschedule your tattoo appointment!

Sunburnt and Peeling Skin – Why It Happens?

Sunburning occurs for two reasons;

  • The skin is overexposed to damaging UV B rays, which are known to damage DNA in the skin cells
  • The body’s natural defense system becomes too overwhelmed to react, so in turn, it causes a toxic reaction or inflammation and increased/faster melaning production,  known as a sunburn (or tan in moderate cases)

As a result of this, the DNA is completely damaged within the skin cells. So, to recover and promote the development of new cells, the dead cells actually cause the skin to peel. This amount of skin damage can be prevented using SPF 30 or higher sunscreens. Regular application of sunscreen, especially during the summer ensures a protective barrier for the skin, minimizing the sunburning and preventing skin peeling overall.

Peeling skin should be treated with lotion application and gentle exfoliation. At first, with serious sunburning, it is essential to deal with the pain. So, by taking Ibuprofen you can manage the pain and soothe the inflammation. It is also important to stay hydrated and not expose the skin to the sun until it completely heals.

In some cases, the skin peeling is moderate. The skin peels in some places, and there are no ‘sheets of peeling skin’ going on. This means that the skin should recover quickly with proper care. However, severe peeling takes longer to complete, and it can even hurt.

How to know if your skin is severely peeling? Well, there are sheets of peeling skin on the body, and the peeling areas are visibly inflamed and red. These areas also hurt, and when you touch them, there is generally a trace of your natural skin color turning red.

Tattoos and Sunburnt Skin

Tattoos and Sunburnt Skin
Saved Tattoo

Now, the problem with sunburnt skin is that you’re dealing 1st or 2nd-degree skin burn in the majority of skin peeling cases. This means that the skin damage is severe, even with moderate skin peeling. The only way around this is to let the skin heal, as we mentioned before.

So, what about tattooing sunburnt skin? Well, you might want to move your tattoo appointment for a week or two because no tattoo artist will tattoo sunburnt, peeling skin. The reasons for this are;

  • The tattoo needle will promote further skin damage
  • The pain of tattooing would be extreme, especially if it’s done in a highly sensitive area
  • The skin peels will get in the way of the tattoo needle, and the tattooist will have visibility issues
  • It can be hard to match the ink color with the ‘current’ skin color, which is tanned and red
  • The skin peels can cause some tattoo issues and even lead to an infection (the dead skin cells can carry germs and bacteria)
  • The tattoo artist won’t be in control of the process due to numerous obstacles and issues
  • Sunburnt skin can peel but also form blisters, which can also get infected during tattooing
  • Because a skin layer is peeling, there is always a risk of ink smudging

Overall, it is a big NO to the question of whether you can get tattooed while your skin is sunburnt and peeling. This is far from an ideal skin condition for a process that is itself damaging for the skin. So, putting damage on top of damage can be pretty bad for your skin and overall health.

So, What Can You Do To Promote Faster Skin Healing?

terrible sun burn on females leg that has caused sun poisoning
Saved Tattoo

The only thing you can do, alongside utilizing home remedies, is waiting until your skin heals and stops peeling. This process can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the sunburn. To promote faster skin healing, you should;

  • Stay hydrated – drink at least 8 glasses of water throughout the day, alongside eating fruits and vegetables, which are also sources of fluids and hydration. This especially applies during hotter days.
  • Use cold compress – if your skin is severely sunburnt and peeling, you can use a cold compress to cool the skin down. A cool shower also helps. Do not apply ice directly onto the skin, since it will further irritate and damage it. Instead, put ice cubes into a plastic bag, and even wrap it with a towel.
  • Take medication – anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen or aspirin, can help soothe the sunburn or the inflammation of the skin. It can also help with the pain and promote faster healing. We recommend you avoid anti-inflammatory ointment since it tends to contain petroleum. Now, petroleum-based products can prevent skin healing and cause the skin to close and build up moisture.
  • Avoid peeling the skin – it can be pretty tempting to peel the dead skin cells off, but you should refrain from doing that. The skin has a natural way of dealing with the dead skill cells and removing them itself. When the new skin under the dead skin cells is fully healed and recovered, the peels will fall off on their own. If you peel them off, the skin may be sensitive to further damage.

When Can You Finally Get Tattoed?

Depending on the severity of your sunburn and skin peeling, you should wait anywhere between one and two weeks to get tattooed. In case of a moderate tan, without sunburn or skin peeling, for example, you can get tattooed right away. However, increased skin redness, and increased skin peeling means you should wait longer for it to heal in order to get tattooed.

So long the tan of the skin is in the realm of normal and natural, you can get tattooed whenever you want. Moderate or severe sunburn and skin peeling mean you should wait between 7 and 14 days to get tattooed. Even then, your tattoo artist will examine the skin to see if it’s fully healed.

Final Thoughts

No tattoo artist will tattoo sunburnt and peeling skin. It is just too risky for the client. The process would be extremely painful, the tattoo might not turn out well due to many obstacles, and the skin will be severely damaged. There is always a chance for tattoo inflammation and infection due to skin peeling and sunburn-caused blisters.

So, if you want to get tattooed, just be patient. Remember; a tattoo is something permanent. So, you want to have the best basis for such an experience. If there’s even the slightest chance something might mess up your tattoo, then think about it and simply wait.

For more information make sure to talk to your dermatologist who will examine your skin’s condition and help estimate the time it will the skin to heal.

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