Is your freshly inked tattoo peeling away? Though it may be causing some discomfort, it is part of the natural healing process in most cases. Your body sheds off the dry skin cells from the tattooed skin, leaving a prominent imprint of the ink.
However, excessive skin peeling after a tattoo could be a problem. The extra peeling may happen because of skin infection. Therefore, you need extensive guidance to differentiate between normal peeling and a problematic one. Here’s what you need to know about tattoo peeling and the skincare required to get rid of it!
When Does The Peeling Stage Begin?
It all begins just after you get inked. The tattoo is made by creating a wound on your skin. The tattoo artist pushes the needle through the epidermis and dermis of your skin. Naturally, when the work is done, the wound starts healing, making the tattoo permanent.
Skin exfoliation is also a part of your healing process. Usually, we shed a lot of dead skin cells every day, but peeling after a tattoo is noticeable, as the skin chunks have tattoo pigments. Once the old skin is removed, it makes space for new skin rejuvenation.
The process of healing starts soon after the tattoo is inked and continues for several weeks. During this time, your tattoo seems a little faded and may look awful from the outside. Sometimes, peeling skin may also feel like sunburn. But little irritation and itchiness are normal.
Tattoo Aftercare: Tips & Instructions
A newly inked tattoo is always at risk of infection. The first two weeks are especially crucial, as your tattoo stays in a vulnerable stage. That’s why proper aftercare is required to avoid any kind of skin infection.
1. Ask your tattoo artist to cover the tattoo properly using petroleum jelly and a clean bandage. Make sure there is no room for infection.
2. Keep the bandage on for at least 24 hours. Later, remove it cautiously and wash with a mild cleanser.
3. Apply an antibacterial ointment or petroleum jelly twice a day. Make sure you apply a thick layer of the ointment. There is however no need to cover it with a bandage anymore.
4. Repeat the washing and ointment procedure till your tattoo area is completely healed.
5. Avoid wearing clothes that cover your tattoo area unless it is necessary.
6. Shower with cool water. Bathing with hot water may irritate the skin even more.
7. If you are going out in broad daylight, apply sunscreen with at least 7% zinc oxide. Cover the area with a cloth or bandage.
8. Never scratch, prick or try to peel the skin on your own. It may trigger an infection.
9. Also, try to avoid swimming until your tattoo is properly healed. Give it a few weeks of time.
10. Try to use fragrance-free products during the healing process.
11. Make sure you follow the instructions given by your tattoo artist and if you notice any discomfort, consult with a doctor.
How Long Does Your Tattoo Take To Heal?
The outer layer of your tattoo takes around two to three weeks to heal. But just because the outer layer of your skin has rejuvenated, it does not mean that the tattoo area is completely recovered. Keep following the aftercare tips even after your tattoo looks healed. It takes nearly six months for the skin below your tattoo to be completely healed. Also, if the tattoo is stretched by mistake, it may take more than usual time to recover.
Signs That Indicate Your Tattoo Is Not Healing
1. Skin Rashes
Skin rashes are the most common sign that appear when the skin below your tattoo is not healing. You will notice red itchy bumps on the skin which may later turn into severe skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, psoriasis etc. Sometimes, red patches appear on your skin’s surface. 
Mild itchiness is not rare when your tattoo starts healing. If the itching is unbearable and continues for a long time, it is because your tattoo is not healing properly. You may be suffering from an allergic reaction or infection in that particular area. Apply a soothing ointment to reduce the itchiness but do not use your nails to scratch. Scratching will worsen your skin condition.
Take a careful look at your tattoo and check if the surrounding skin has swollen. The peeling skin may look red and inflamed. The tattooed skin would look like it is undergoing an allergic reaction. In some cases, old tattoos may face inflammation and itchiness and this is definitely a warning sign. If you experience similar issues, getting an expert opinion is extremely essential.
4. Skin Discharge
In a few cases, some people experience skin discharge from the tattooed area of their body. A little blood discharge till up to 24 hours is normal but if you experience yellowish discharge post that, it is a problem. It can happen along with red itchy inflamed skin. This can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to deal with. Usually, skin discharge comes along with fever and chills. It requires immediate medical attention. 
If the peeling does not stop and the tattooed area does not heal, it may leave scars on the skin. It does not just ruin the beauty of your tattoo but also causes discomfort. This type of situation is however rare.
Can I Work Out During The Healing & Peeling Stage?
Typically, any tattoo artist would ask you to wait for at least 48 hours to resume any physical activity that would cause a lot of sweating. Working out, dancing, cycling, and any type of heavy lifting should be avoided. But the wound takes 4 to 6 weeks to heal completely. So it is recommended to keep the workout a little light for a while.
A tattoo is a beautiful addition to your life. Tiny issues like skin peeling and mild discomfort should not make you think otherwise. A little aftercare of your tattooed skin will fix the problems easily. Besides, the above-mentioned tips would guide you through the aftercare process. In case of severe side effects such as inflammation, skin discharge or excessive itching, get medical attention immediately.
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