Bump on Tattoo, Painful, Infected, Small, Symptoms Causes, How to Get Rid

HomeSkinBump on Tattoo, Painful, Infected, Small, Symptoms Causes, How to Get Rid

Bump on the tattoo is common, especially during the healing process. Not all tattoo heal in the same way. For some people, especially during the healing process, some people may notice some small itchy and painful lumps start to develop around the tattoo. The little bumps can be a result of an infection, an allergic reaction, or environmental conditions. Here are the causes, treatment, and how to get rid of the bumps.

What causes a bump on the tattoo?

As mentioned, not all tattoo heal in the same way. It is not uncommon for some people to develop painful, small, and itchy bumps around the tattoo just after having it. For some people, the tattoo might heal properly, then develop the bumps later. So what could cause your tattoo to develop these bumps?

What causes bump on tattoo?

What you need to understand is that it is quite normal for a new or old tattoo to feel and look bumpy. This is especially common in parts where there is bold outlining. According to a professional tattoo artist, this is completely natural. It is what the body does as it tries to heal over the area where the tattoo needles caused trauma to the skin.

For the old or new tattoo, bump on the tattoo can be caused by any of the following:

1. Allergic reaction

Though rare, it is not uncommon for one to develop an allergic reaction to tattoo ink. According to about.com, allergic reaction to ink can and do happen sometimes. This is common with red and yellow tattoo ink or other colors containing red or yellow.

After getting a tattoo, an allergic reaction to the ink does not necessarily happen immediately. In most people, the reaction can occur after a week or even years after getting the tattoo.

When the cause of the bumps, spots, or pimples is an allergic reaction, the bumps around the tattoo can be itchy, raised, and colored. It can also be accompanied by constant irritation rather than one that comes and goes.

2. Heat bumps

The other possible cause of the bumps could be a heat rash. Heat rash or prickly heat is an itchy inflammation of the skin, typically with a rash of small vesicles. This kind of rash is common in hot moist weather.

Heat rash results from excessive sweating during hot and humid weather. Around a tattoo, heat rash may appear as clusters of red papules or blisters on the skin. Heat bumps around the tattoo are likely to occur in the neck and upper chest areas, under the breasts and on the arm.

3. Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis can also be the underlying cause of the small, itchy bumps that develop on a tattoo. Contact dermatitis is a red itchy rash caused by a substance that comes in contact with the skin. After getting a tattoo, your skin may develop an allergy to certain skincare products you were not allergic to before.

Contact dermatitis is not contagious or life-threatening. It can, however, be annoying and discomforting. Possible causes would include contact with soap, cosmetic products, and jewelry, among others. Identifying and avoiding contact with the reacting substances is the best way to prevent this rash.

4. Eczema

Also called atopic dermatitis. Unlike contact dermatitis, eczema or atopic dermatitis is a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed, with bumps and blisters that cause itching and bleeding.

Eczema bumps can occur anywhere on the skin, including on tattoo. Eczema has no obvious cause but can sometimes result from a reaction to irritation.

5. Insect bites

Sting and bites from insects can also cause bumps to develop around a new or old tattoo.

6. Dry skin

Dry skin can have an impact on the health and appearance of a tattoo. This can be during and after the healing. When your skin is dry, it lacks moisture, which is key to the healing process of a tattoo. Moisture can make a difference in the color and intensity of your tattoo.

After getting a tattoo, you need to keep your skin well moisturized to keep the color of your tattoo fresh, prevent flaking, and maintain the beauty of the new tattoo.

7. Extreme weather condition

Extreme weather conditions can also lead to the formation of small itchy bumps around the tattoo. In such environmental conditions, when temperatures rise and humidity rise, it causes the tattoo to swell slightly. The swelling causes a slight stretching of the skin, causing itching or continuous urge to scratch. This is common with new tattoos.

In such cases, over the counter, topical anti-itching cream or gel, ice-cold compress, and not scratching the skin around the tattoo can help relieve the itching. You also need to avoid direct contact with the extreme weather until it becomes friendly to the skin.

8. Acute inflammatory reaction

An acute inflammatory reaction is the direct skin response to the piercing with needles. This is an expected side effect of tattoos. There may be transient redness and swelling of the area around the tattoo that disappears within a week or two.

Acute inflammation begins within seconds to minutes following tissue damage. When getting a tattoo, the damage may be purely physical or involve the activation of the immune response. During such response:

  • Blood flow increases due to the dilation of blood vessels
  • Increased permeability of the capillaries and
  • Migration of neutrophils out of the capillaries into interstitial spaces.

9. Reaction to light

For those with yellow tattoos created from cadmium sulfide, there are at the highest risk of developing a hypersensitive reaction when exposed to sunlight. In such cases, swelling and redness may develop around the site of the tattoo.

The phototoxic reaction caused by cadmium sulfide can also occur in a red tattoo. This is because trace amounts of cadmium are added to brighten red tattoo.

10. Acne

Acne is a common skin condition. Though common in young people, it can occur in anyone. It is often characterized by inflamed or infected sebaceous glands in the skin. If you are used to developing acne bumps on the skin, then it’s possible that the bumps on the skin can be caused by acne.

Treating acne depends on whether you have a mild, moderate, or severe type. Your health care provider may, at times, combine treatment to get the best result and to avoid developing drug resistance to bacteria. The treatment could lotion and gel that you can apply to the tattoo or oral medication.

Signs and symptoms of an infected tattoo

After getting a tattoo, it is normal to have swelling and redness around the tattoo for about 48 hours. The swelling, redness, inflammation, and pain is often expected to get better with time, not worse. This will, however, depend on the size and location of the tattoo.

Signs and symptoms of an infected tattoo
infected tattoo

A tattoo can get infected with bacteria or fungi.  When infected, a tattoo will show the following symptoms:

  • Increasing or spreading redness around tattoo
  • Itchy bumps around the tattoo
  • Increased swelling weeks after getting the tattoo
  • Scabs and bumps around the tattoo
  • Some people may have a brown or greenish discharge from the tattoo
  • Oozing or Foul-smelling discharge from the tattoo
  • Swelling lymph node in areas around the tattoo
  • Peeling tattoo

At home, you can minimize the risk of getting your tattoo infected by doing the following

  1. For new tattoo, make sure to protect it from touching any substances that might make it contaminated
  2. Avoid touching or scratching the tattoo, if you have to, then make sure to wash your hands before cleaning the tattoo
  3. Hours after getting the tattoo, get rid of the bandage, and wash the skin around the tattoo with unscented antibacterial soap. You can use lukewarm water to clean the tattoo.
  4. You need to clean the tattoo regularly, dry the skin, and apply moderate ointment.
  5. After 4 days of doing that, you can now switch to non-scented hand lotion to keep the skin moisturized.
  6. Normally, the healing process of a new tattoo will take between 2 to 3 weeks most, if this is not the case, have a dermatologist look at it as soon as possible.

The little bump on tattoo

formation of painful little bump on or around the tattoo.
bumps on tattoo

Tattooing as a form of body art is increasing in popularity, especially among young adults. According to the American Academy of Dermatology experts, the ink used in tattooing has dramatically changed over the years.

The current form of tattoo used can lead to complications such as infections and allergic reactions. This will, in turn, lead to the formation of a painful little bump on or around the tattoo.

Allergic reaction, as mentioned, is one of the common complications associated with tattooing your skin. It could lead to the formation of itchy bumps and rash around the tattoo. In people with a skin condition such as eczema and psoriasis, an allergic reaction to tattooing ink could lead to flare up’s of these conditions.

Another possible complication is skin cancer. According to Dr. Michi Shinohara, skin cancer can occur within a tattoo. For this reason, he warns that tattoo experts need to be careful not to place a tattoo over an existing mole.

The little bumps on the tattoo can also be a result of skin infection that occurs as a result of poor aftercare of a new tattoo.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following to minimize skin reaction from a tattoo:

  • To get a tattoo, be sure to have it done by a professional tattoo artist in a tattoo parlor.
  • Make sure the equipment used is sterilized before use.
  • Report any case of abnormal reaction as soon as possible.
  • For this, with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, check with your dermatologist before getting the tattoo.
  • Do not tattoo over a mole.

Small itchy bump under the tattoo

According to Micha Shinohara, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle, United States, the composition of tattoo ink has changed dramatically over the years.

Michi adds, in the past, metal salts lead, cobalt, and carbon were used in inks. Today, many modern tattoo ink (red and yellow) contains organic azo dyes with plastic-based pigments that also have industrial uses in printing, textile, and car paint.

There are many unknowns about how these inks interact with the skin and within the body, and if for real there are responsible for an increasing number of complications such as small itchy bumps around or under the tattoo.

According to doctor Michi, one of the most common problems associated with tattooing is an allergic reaction. This kind of reaction can:

  • Cause itchy bumps or rash that develop around the tattoo some days or weeks after getting the tattoo
  • Cause skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis to flare up
  • Lead to sarcoidosis, an autoimmune condition characterized by swelling and itching. This condition can occur in a tattoo a long time after the procedure. (though not directly caused by the tattoo it can show up within the tattoo)

White bumps around the tattoo

White bumps on the tattoo can make your ink look terrible. If you notice colored bumps that take longer to heal, this should be a cause for concern. In some cases, however, it is often not a cause for concern. It is, however, good to have a professional skincare practitioner look at the tattoo to rule out such possibilities.

The common causes of white bumps or spots around a new or old tattoo can include the following.

1. Allergic reaction:

After getting a tattoo, the skin around the tattoo may often form allergies against many things that you were not allergic to before getting the tattoo. The duration takes to develop these allergies may vary from person to person. Some people may take days to develop the allergies, while for others, it could take years.

After developing the allergic reaction, the skin around the tattoo may break in a rash and small itchy white bumps. For mild allergies, no treatment is required, given that it pops up then proceed to go away slowly. For severe allergies, urgent medical attention may be required.

Have dermatology prescribe anti-allergy medication to stop the allergy and make the white bumps go away.

2. Skin irritation

Skin irritation is the other possible cause of itchy white bumps around the tattoo. A new tattoo can be extremely sensitive to various skincare products. After getting a new tattoo, your skin can have an adverse reaction upon contact with such products leading to the formation of white bumps.

For a new tattoo, you will need to avoid irritating the skin around it. Avoid wearing tight clothing, scratching the tattoo, or applying harsh skincare products.

3. Skin infection

Skin infection or an infected tattoo could also lead to the development of small white itchy bumps around a tattoo. Though rare, there is an array of reasons that could cause a new or old tattoo to get infected.

A common cause of infection can be because the tattoo was done poorly, or in a dirty environment, with unsterilized equipment or simply because of poor aftercare of the tattoo.

To prevent infection to a new tattoo, you need to avoid scratching, bathing in dirty water, and make sure to keep the tattoo clean.

4. Using too much skincare products

Applying too much lotion and other skincare products on skin before the tattoo heal can lead to an infection. Though tattoo professional recommends a good moisturizer or a specialized healing lotion for a new tattoo, adding too much and smothering the tattoo can cause a few issues such as rashes and white bumps to appear around a tattoo.

How to get rid of the bump on tattoo

Getting rid of bumps on tattoo involve treating or avoiding the underlying cause of the bumps. At home, the following can be used to get rid of bumps:

  • An oral antihistamine can be used in cases where the underlying cause of the bumps is an allergic reaction. If the bumps fail to go away, have a dermatologist look at them as soon as possible.
  • Calamine lotion or gel is used to relieve pain, itching, and irritation or discomfort that might accompany the bumps. You can also use Calamine Soap (Check price on Amazon)
  • Anti-itching drugs
  • Maintaining good personal hygiene, this will involve not scratching the tattoo, avoid harsh or reacting skincare product, and keep the tattoo clean and moisturized.
  • You can also use natural remedies like Aloe Vera and tea tree oil to reduce itching and treat an infected tattoo. Aloe Vera gel hydrates and works as an antibiotic to prevent and fight bacterial infection around a new tattoo.


  1. White bumps and spots on tattoo: https://authoritytattoo.com/white-bumps-and-spots-on-tattoos/
  2. Complications linked to new tattoo inks: https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/dermatologist-warns-consumers-about-complications-linked-to-newer-tattoo-inks
  3. How to treat and avoid tattoo pimples: http://info.painfulpleasures.com/blogs/tattoo-pimples-how-treat-and-avoid
  4. Signs of an infected tattoo: https://tatring.com/getting-tattooed/Tattoo-Infection
  5. Raised tattoo: http://www.healcure.org/tattoo/raised-tattoo-causes-itchy-raised-healing-treatment-remedies/
  6. Tattoo-associated skin reaction: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/tattoo-associated-skin-reactions/

Get in Touch

Related Articles

Popular Posts