It’s not unusual for a tattoo to feel bumpy and lumpy as it starts healing. Each takes a different journey during this process, which means it sometimes looks like something could be wrong.
Tattoos can feel smooth when the artist does their work, but they can turn into a raised or bumpy area after a couple of days. If that hasn’t happened with other ink, the results can lead to a worrying experience.
Most people notice the rising effect on the parts with plenty of outlining.
How Long Until Tattoos Stop Being Raised?
After getting a new tattoo, the body’s natural healing process starts. That means the area where the ink was placed by the needle will experience swelling and inflammation. This issue typically resolves in 5-7 days, but it can be up to 14 days for individuals with slower metabolisms.
When a tattoo continues to have bumps or lumps that aren’t going down after 5-7 days, it could be worth speaking to a medical professional.
The issue with a raised tattoo after more than a week involves infection. You’ll notice that the skin around the new ink is red and inflamed when one develops. It’s often hot to the touch.
These symptoms typically require medical attention. If an infection spreads, it could impact other body systems and become a potentially dangerous situation.
When there isn’t redness or swelling in the area, the body’s healing processes are working. If you have extensive outlining work done, the bumpy feeling could last for several weeks after the rest of the tattoo has fully healed.
If you have an older tattoo that became raised suddenly, it’s likely due to environmental changes. When people step into humid or dry conditions, the moisture levels impact the skin in different ways.
As the higher humidity levels encourage moisture retention, the tattooed area can feel raised and swollen. In a dry climate, moisture escapes from the skin at different rates, creating more of a bumpy feeling in the area.
White ink tattoos tend to experience this issue more than others because of the pigment’s lightness. If the needle didn’t go into your skin deeply, the resulting work could look more like scar tissue than a planned piece.
What Are the Reasons Why Tattoos Become Raised?
Whether you have an older tattoo that recently changed its appearance or some fresh ink to enjoy, these are the primary reasons why it might look raised against the skin’s surface.
1. Swelling in the Area
Most new tattoos tend to become swollen. This effect happens more often on the lower body parts than the shoulder, chest, arms, or neck, but it can happen anywhere.
This issue occurs because gravity causes fluids and blood to pool in your feet, shins, and thighs. That’s why you should always shop for new shoes in the afternoon. Your feet can swell to half a size bigger by the end of the day.
Since the extra fluids can pool at or near the tattoo placement, you’ll see it appear as a raised area. With fresh ink, the body is already sending more blood to the site to deal with possible inflammation issues. That combination causes everything to expand more than usual.
Thinner skin areas, such as the wrist or on top of the tibia, can also experience this issue at almost any time.
2. Skin Irritation
Some skincare products can cause irritation that leads to raised ink or swelling in the tattoo area. This issue occurs most often when a tattoo is less than 72 hours old.
That’s because a tattoo is essentially an open wound. That’s why the ink gets wrapped by your artist after it is finished. Even if products don’t irritate your skin normally when applied, the artwork changes that dynamic.
That’s why having a high-quality tattoo lotion to apply to the inked area is an essential component of your overall recovery.
For my tattoos, I always use After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. I’ve found this product does an excellent job of keeping the area hydrated for healing while avoiding the irritation and itching that new work often provides.
My skin is very sensitive to different allergens and irritant triggers. Everything in my home is essentially hypoallergenic to prevent hives from breaking out spontaneously. With After Inked lotion, the vegan-based product delivers a positive outcome each time.
Another option I’ve had success with over the years with my tattoos is Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm. It’s also hypoallergenic and contains zero fillers or petroleum-based ingredients.
3. Scabbing and Scarring
Each tattoo scabs while it starts the healing process. That’s how the body products the open wounds caused by the needle. Without this natural reaction, the skin wouldn’t have a way to regenerate appropriately.
The scabbing process is different for each tattoo. Most of them have light reactions where the sticky topping is barely noticeable. Others have big, thick coverings that develop that can take more than a week to start falling off.
You’ll feel the scab bumps when running your hand over the tattoo. Try to resist the urge to brush it a lot since the material could have tattoo ink that could spread to your clothing if rubbing against the fabric.
Some tattoos end up scarring. The most common reason for this issue involves the needle going too far into the skin during application. Some people are more prone to skin damage than others, and you can also cause this issue by pulling or picking at the scabs that develop.
It can take up to three months to see how much scar tissue forms after the skin damage repairs. Most will settle into the skin and start fading.
The problem you’ll want to watch for if you experience scarring involves keloids. These raised spots become a prominent area of raised tissues that can keep growing if not professionally treated.
When a tattoo becomes infected, it can lead to a host of potential problems that you’ll need to manage. Even when you get the situation under control, the swelling and inflammation can lead to scarring issues with the artwork
Infections do more than affect a tattoo’s appearance. It can also be damaging to an individual’s general health if it is allowed to progress.
Although antibiotic ointments can offer relief or trigger the body’s healing processes, you should never mess around with an infected tattoo. A doctor should be consulted immediately.
5. Weather Changes
Although you won’t see tattoo changes on an average day, extreme swings in humidity can impact your skin in several ways. When the extra moisture enters the skin, it can cause thinner areas to swell noticeably.
The stretching action that happens with that outcome can cause some tattoos to look raised or bumpy. It’s usually a subtle result, but it can be worrying if you’ve never experienced it before.
Cold weather is also known to affect the skin in ways that can make tattoos look raised. Dryness tends to be the issue here, with itching and irritation causing flaking and bumps until the source gets resolved.
How to Apply Tattoo Lotion Appropriately
Before applying tattoo lotions like After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion or Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm, it is essential to follow your artist’s instructions. If you’ve experienced an infection or another medical issue, your doctor’s advice should also be followed first.
Tattoo lotions come with instructions to consider when countering a problem with lumps or bumps. For most people, this process is what should be followed.
If you’ve lost the instructions for your preferred tattoo lotion or aftercare product, here are the steps that you’ll want to follow to take care of the ink.
- Order your preferred tattoo lotion about a week before you plan to need it. If you purchase the product at a retail store, it should be obtained the day of getting the ink at the latest to ensure you have it available.
- Apply a thin layer of the ointment over the entire tattooed area. If you added ink to a previous spot to complete a look, you’d want to have the product extend to the rest of the work to ensure consistency.
- Most tattoos require moisturization for the first week. You’ll want to apply the product two or three times per day, although it might need an additional application in the winter months when the air becomes dry.
- Avoid applying moisturizers more than the recommended amount as that can lead to clogged skin pores and breakouts in the area. It can even lead to tattoo cracking in extreme circumstances.
- If you see the ointment, balm, or lotion remaining on your skin after applying it, you’ve used too much. You’ll want to have the extra amount removed.
Dry healing a new tattoo is an inefficient process for most people. Since everyone has a different metabolism and healing process, following the aftercare instructions you receive is important.
Can I Use Neosporin on a Tattoo?
Neosporin and other triple antibiotic creams aren’t the best choices for new tattoos. That product is designed to work on minor scrapes, cuts, or burns. Since there isn’t a moisturizing element to the application, you can end up drying out the skin while preventing it from breathing.
Although products like Neosporin and Vaseline trap moisture against the skin and prevent air exposure, it’s not a helpful result for a new tattoo.
Your skin requires oxygen exposure after a tattoo to heal correctly. Substantial barriers like Neosporin can hinder this process.
Some people can experience problems with color loss once the tattoo heals after using triple antibiotic creams. It can even lead to more scarring.
If you have an older tattoo that receives a scratch or cut, applying Neosporin or triple antibiotic creams would be appropriate because that’s what the product is intended to treat. The bumps from a new injury on previous ink should disappear once the healing process is completed.
Most tattoo artists recommend washing wounds with plain soap and water. You don’t want to submerge your skin in water for the first week or two to ensure the skin can breathe. That’s why most bandages come off after a day or two after the ink is applied.
Although Neosporin isn’t a great option, any vitamin A and vitamin D ointment is a reasonable solution. If you use a regular lotion instead of After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion or Dr. Pickles Tattoo Balm, it should not contain fragrances or preservatives that could irritate your skin.
What If My Raised Tattoo Doesn’t Go Away?
Raised tattoos with lumps and bumps are all common during and after the healing process. They sometimes appear on older tattoos as health or weather conditions change. For most people, it’s a temporary problem that disappears once the body heals.
When I got my first tattoo in 2007, I followed the artist’s instructions to the letter. I let it stay wrapped for the first day, allowed it to breathe, and applied the lotion I was given.
I also applied Neosporin to the tattoo at night the first couple of days because the ink stung. My artist lectured me about that decision. “You’re going to end up pulling out the ink as part of the healing process, and you don’t want that,” he said. “We spent two hours putting that thing on your arm. Don’t ruin my work by being stupid.”
That first tattoo is still as colorful as it was when applied. I credit the fact that I didn’t pull the scabs when it was healing while using tattoo lotions and creams to keep my skin hydrated.
It still looks raised and bumpy occasionally, especially after a long shower or some time in the hot tub. I’ve had it freckle out in some areas, but for the most part, it still looks incredible.
That’s why I highly recommend a daily skincare routine for a tattoo. If you want it to look incredible ten years from now, that outcome starts today.