Why Isn’t My Tattoo Peeling: 6 Things You MUST Know

One of the best feelings in the world is going through all the pain and discomfort, and finally leaving the tattoo shop with a new piece of fresh ink. However, that amazing feeling is always followed by one of the worst ones; going through the aftercare.

Aftercare and the very aftermath of tattooing is a true rollercoaster. You’re in pain, your tattoo is bleeding, oozing, and everything is super red, painful, and swollen. But, even when the pain finally subsides, you’re left with an itchy and scabby tattoo that is starting to peel. And, at this point, one needs to gather all of their strengths and patience to not peel the tattoo.

But, what happens when the tattoo is NOT peeling? Well, in most cases one would probably start to worry about it. But, how do you know if your tattoo not peeling is an issue, and should you be calling your tattoo artist?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll try to inform you about situations when the tattoo is not peeling, and whether you should be concerned or not. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Tattoo Peeling: 6 Things You Must Know

Tattoo Peeling - Explained
Instagram: @faithfrisco

1. Why Do New Tattoos Peel?

Tattoo peeling is a sign your tattoo is going through a proper healing process. After the tattoo has stopped bleeding and oozing, and it is dry, new skin will start forming to replace the old, treated, and damaged skin. So, to leave some room for a new skin layer, the old skin on the tattoo will start to peel.

The key is to let the tattoo peel on its own. It is essential to resist the urge to peel the tattoo! You should never peel, pick or scratch your tattoo. This can cause issues with the way the tattoo looks, or you can transfer some germs to the tattoo from your fingers and cause an infection.

2. How Long Does It Take For Tattoos To Start Peeling?

During the first 24 hours, your tattoo is still bleeding and oozing, so it is important to keep it covered with a bandage. After the first 24 hours, the bleeding should stop, so you can remove the bandage and wash the tattoo with unscented soap. It is important to wash your hands every time before you handle the tattoo.

After you’ve washed the tattoo for the first time, make sure to tap it dry with a paper towel and leave it uncovered. The tattoo needs to breathe or be exposed to air in order to start drying out. During the third day, you may start experiencing some itching, scabbing and general discomfort. This is a sign that new skin is forming.

So, between the 4th and 7th day you should see the tattoo starting to peel, gradually. At first, there will be some smaller parts of the skin flaking off. Later, larger areas will start to peel, depending on the size of the tattoo. This means that the tattoo is healing properly and that it will turn out bright and vivid once the new skin is fully formed.

3. Does Every Tattoo Peel The Same?

Tattoo peeling, when it happens and how, varies from one person to the other. Some people’s tattoos start peeling after 3 or 4 days, while others experience tattoo peeling only after a week, up to 10 days.

Some people’s tattoos don’t peel at all, ever. Tattoos peeling late or not peeling at all doesn’t have to be a sign something is wrong. It can just mean that your skin was better at enduring the trauma of tattooing, or that your immune system managed to fight off the trauma and continue healing without replacing the skin layers. All in all, not every tattoo peels the same, and that is a completely normal occurrence.

4. But, Why Is My Tattoo Not Peeling, At All?

As we mentioned, some people’s tattoos never peel. This doesn’t mean you should be concerned about something. The tattoo is probably healing just fine, without the need for peeling. But, if you are worried, and you need some exact explanations, here are some reasons your tattoo is not peeling;

  • Your skin managed to heal quickly with little or no peeling at all
  • Your new tattoo is small and comprises linework and little or not detailing
  • Your tattoo artist was very thorough and proper with the tattoo needle
  • Your tattoo artist used high-quality ink
  • Your tattoo isn’t dense and has no colors

The truth is, tattoos that are mainly linework without a lot of colors tend to heal with little or no peeling. Smaller tattoos also don’t tend to peel, especially if they’re delicate and only feature lines. So, in case your tattoo is small, has no solid colors, and is done in linework, then you shouldn’t be worried about it not peeling.

5. When Should I Be Worried About The Tattoo Not Peeling?

If your tattoo is not peeling, but everything else seems fine, then there’s no need to worry. However, if your tattoo is not peeling alongside other unwanted occurrences, like rashing, itching, pain, continuous swelling, increased temperature of the tattooed area, redness, and oozing, then you should seek medical attention. You’re probably experiencing an infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible. So, here are the most common causes and signs of a tattoo infection to look out for;

Causes of a tattoo infection;

  • Touching the tattoo with dirty, unwashed hands
  • The tattoo needle and equipment wasn’t sterile
  • The tattoo artist used expired, contaminated, or low-quality ink
  • You didn’t follow aftercare instructions
  • You’re allergic to ink
  • You’re putting lotion on a fresh tattoo

Signs of a tattoo infection;

  • Rash around the tattoo
  • Swelling and redness
  • Continuous bleeding and drainage
  • Fever, chills, and shivering
  • Increasing pain
  • Puss-filled scabs
  • Unusual and bad smell

6. How Can I Ensure The Tattoo Heals Properly?

When it comes to tattoo healing, it is all about proper aftercare routine. You need to keep your skin healthy, as well as your body overall. So, here’s how you can ensure your tattoo heals properly, even if it doesn’t start peeling;

  • Do NOT touch your tattoo with dirty hands; always wash your hands before handling the tattoo!
  • Make sure to wash your tattoo once in the morning and once in the evening.
  • Moisturize the tattoo after you wash it.
  • Wash your tattoo with unscented soap.
  • Do NOT put lotion on a fresh tattoo; wait 3 or 4 days before you start moisturizing it.
  • Make sure to wear loose clothes and avoid friction in the tattoo area.
  • Do NOT touch, pick, peel purposefully, or scratch the tattoo!
  • Do not swim, and when you shower, cover the tattoo with a thin layer of Vaseline (which you will wear for a few minutes, and wash off immediately after you’re done).
  • Make sure to eat healthy, like healthy and fatty foods, healthy carbs, and generally food that will keep you energized.
  • Quit smoking and do NOT drink alcohol for a week after you’ve gotten a tattoo.
  • Wear sunscreen and avoid sun exposure!

Final Thoughts

As we mentioned earlier, there are numerous factors involved in tattoo peeling. But, if your tattoo doesn’t peel, that isn’t a reason for concern. Unless the tattoo is swollen, red, sore, bleeding, and painful for more than a week, then you’re experiencing an infection. In that case, seek medical attention as soon as possible. However, if your tattoo seems fine and shows signs of proper healing, then the fact that it isn’t peeling is not a problem.

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