If you’re reading this, chances are you just got a tattoo for the first time and you’re dealing with tattoo scabs. We know that scabs may seem scary, but there is a reason why they form. But, if the scabs start bleeding, then you might be dealing with a serious underlying issue. So, if you’ve noticed your tattoo scabs are bleeding, you’re at the right place.
Getting informed on this issue is essential for your next steps, so make sure to keep reading. In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover everything you need to know about tattoo scabs, bleeding, and how to prevent it or handle it. So, without further ado let’s get started!
Tattoo Scabs: Everything You Need to Know
What Are Scabs?
A tattoo scab or a scab, in general, is a layer of protective tissue that forms on top of damaged skin. Remember when you were little, playing in the park, how every time you fall some sort of crust would form in the place where you’ve injured yourself. That was a scab forming to protect the skin underneath and help it regenerate in a safe environment.
Scabs are, to some extent, a completely normal occurrence. They generally dry out as the skin is healing, and then they simply fall off on their own.
Why Do Scabs Form On Tattoos?
As we mentioned, scabs form on top of damaged or injured skin. Now, tattooing, even though it may not seem so, is damaging the skin, so a fresh tattoo is considered to be an open wound. And, like every other wound and injury, the tattoo needs to heal as well.
It can take weeks before a tattoo heals completely, but the first 7 to 10 days are crucial for skin sealing. That is when the tattoo scabs start forming to ensure the tattooed skin underneath is healing properly and closing the wound simultaneously. You can expect the scabs to start forming by the day or 4 into the tattoo healing.
How Long Do Scabs Stay On The Tattoo?
Now, depending on numerous factors, tattoo scabs can stick around between one and two weeks. The thickest scabs should fall off by the end of the third week into the healing process. Some of the factors that affect the speed of scab formation and the amount of time they stan on the skin are the following;
- Tattoo placement
- The size and the color of the tattoo
- Type of skin and skin sensitivity
- Personal healing time (depending on your health and the ability of the body to deal with tattoo injury and ink)
- Weather and air temperature
- Hydration and skin moisturizing
- Nutrition, diet, and overall fitness of the body and metabolism
So, Is Tattoo Scabbing Normal?
Yes, to some extent, tattoo scabbing is perfectly normal, and even expected and preferable during the healing process. Thanks to the scabbing, the tattoo can close and complete the healing process.
However, only a thin layer of scabbing is considered normal. The scabbing needs to be light and seem as if it’s drying out and about to fall off.
But, if the scabbing is thick and heavy, or there is a lot of it, then you should be concerned. Heavy scabbing can be an indicator of improper healing, ink allergy, or even an infection. But alongside scabbing, such occurrences are accompanied by skin swelling, redness, pain, oozing, bleeding, and even a high fever.
How Should I Take Care of Tattoo Scabs?
One of the most important things when it comes to scabs is that you should never touch them or peel them off. This can mess up the tattoo design completely and introduce bacteria to the tattoo. You can indirectly cause a tattoo infection by messing with the scabs, and you don’t want that kind of trouble.
Other than this, you can focus on moisturizing the tattoo properly, once or twice a day just to hydrate the skin. This will prevent the formation of heavy scabbing, and ensure they dry and fall off quickly and easily.
Make sure to always wash your hands thoroughly with gentle, anti-bacterial soap before moisturizing or touching the tattoo. You don’t want to introduce germs and bacteria to an open, healing wound.
Why Do My Tattoo Scabs Bleed?
Now, there are a few reasons why tattoo scans bleed; those reasons are either caused by you or by an underlying issue.
When the bleeding is caused by you, what we mean is that you’ve committed a sin considered cardinal in the tattoo community; picking a fresh tattoo’s scabs. By picking and peeling off the scabs, you can undermine the healing of the tattoo up until that moment and expose the sensitive, freshly tattooed skin again.
This means that your tattoo has to do all the healing from the start again, which is now riskier than before. Why? Well, now you’ve introduced bacteria and germs to a healing tattoo, which could result in an infection. Plus, you might have messed up the design and even caused ink leaking.
However, if you haven’t been touching or peeling off the scabs, but they somehow bleed nevertheless, chances are you’re dealing with either ink allergy or a tattoo infection. However, scabs bleeding isn’t the only sign your dealing with an allergic reaction or an infection.
Both are accompanied by redness, skin swelling, excessive itchiness, rashing, tattoo raising, etc. Some people even experience fatigue, increased pain in the tattooed area, vomiting, and fever. In such cases, emergency medical attention is of the highest priority.
So, we can conclude that scab bleeding never occurs out of the blue. It is caused by some external factors, like peeling the scabs off, or by an internal inflammation caused by an allergic reaction to the ink or an infection.
What To Do When The Scabs Are Bleeding?
In case you’ve touched or peeled off the scabs, here’s how you can deal with the bleeding;
- Contact your tattoo artist – explain to your tattoo artists what happened and ask them for a bit of advice. Tattoo artists deal with different kinds of clients all the time, so they’re no strangers to people picking and peeling off the scabs. Tattooists are experts and professionals, so your personal tattoo artist should know how to help your tattoo continue the proper healing process.
- Make sure to clean the tattoo – the best thing you can do in case of a bleeding scab is to wash it and clean it. Make sure to use a gentle, anti-bacterial tattoo soap, as well as lukewarm water. After you’ve washed everything, pat dry the tattooed area using a fresh towel.
Do not use a paper towel since it could stick to the tattoo and cause further trouble. Also, be sure with the towel as well, since the remaining scabs could latch onto the towel; if you push them, you could peel them off as well.
- Keep the tattoo moisturized – after you’ve washed and dried the tattoo, make sure to apply moisturizing products. Try to use healing products that contain panthenol, to help the skin recover and heal faster, without forming another layer of scabs.
Make sure to moisturize the tattoo at least twice a day, especially after washing, to prevent drying out. A dry tattoo is more likely to from heavy scabbing, which can lead to itching, cracking, potential bleeding, and infections.
- Consider booking a touch-up session – now, the deal with tattoo scab bleeding is that it opens the way to ink leaking. Because of this, you can expect that the fully healed tattoo won’t look as you imagined it. So, you might as well book a touch-up session once the tattoo is fully healed. Your tattoo artist will make sure to fix the messed-up parts and ensure to tattoo looks like the initial design.
- Do not touch, pick or peel new or remaining scabs – this is a cardinal sin, which you should have already. But, to reiterate, do not touch, pick or peel the newly-formed or the remaining scabs. This can lead to further bleeding, heavier scabbing, skin swelling, ink leaking, and finally, an infection.
In case the tattoo scabs are bleeding, but you haven’t picked or peeled them off, then you’re probably dealing with an infection or an ink allergy. Either way, you should probably seek medical attention and get a proper diagnose and treatment. Tattoo infections and ink allergies are usually also accompanied by symptoms like ink oozing, skin swelling, redness, rashing, increased pain, and even fever. So, keep an eye on those symptoms as well for a clearer understanding of what might be going on with your tattoo.
Tattoo scabbing is a normal occurrence. You don’t have to stress out about some light tattoo scabbing; it will eventually dry out and fall off, revealing a beautifully healed tattoo. However, if you touch, pick or peel off the tattoo scabs, you can expect bleeding and some damage to the tattoo. This will make a usually smooth healing process much more difficult.
On the other hand, if the tattoo scabs start bleeding on their own, you should probably head to the hospital and see if you’re dealing with a tattoo infection or ink allergy. Either way, proper treatment will get you through such a situation, and a quick tattoo touch-up will make your tattoo look good again.