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Why Is My Tattoo Bumpy & Raised During Or After Healing?

Not all tattoos heal in the same way as each other, and many things can happen to a new tattoo to cause it to look as though something might be wrong with it - such as the new tattoo becoming raised and bumpy.

Whilst sometimes the aftercare process does go wrong, caused by various issues - a lot of the time there is usually nothing to worry about. One of the common things that people worry about regarding their new tattoo is if it starts to look raised, or particularly bumpy while it’s healing.

This article will try to describe to you all of the reasons why bumps or lumps may appear over your tattoo, and what to do if your tattoo starts to develops these unsightly symptoms.

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What Causing Raising & Bumpiness On A New Tattoo?

Bumpy Tattoo

This type of raising is completely normal on a new tattoo

One thing to note is that nearly all tattoos will look/feel bumpy as they heal at some point - especially on parts where there may be bold outlining. This is completely natural and it’s just what the body does as it tries to heals over the areas where the tattoo needles caused trauma to the skin.

This normal tattoo bumpiness can hang around for quite a while after the rest of your tattoo looks otherwise pretty much healed.

This natural raising is also usually accompanied by skin over the tattoo that looks quite shiny and also scaly - and this is all completely normal and can sometimes take up to a couple of months to completely disappear.

Raised Tattoo

Below are a selection of other common reasons why your tattoo might look raised and bumpy:

Swelling

New tattoos tend to become swollen, especially if they’re created on a lower part of your body such as your legs or feet due to gravity causing extra blood and fluid to pool around the area.

This extra blood and fluid is sent by your body to the site of the tattoo wound in order to deliver nutrition to the area so that it can begin the healing process.

tattoo redness and swelling

A very red and swollen area around what looks like an infected tattoo

Thinner, more delicate areas of skin can also swell quite badly, such as the inner bicep area and the wrist.

You must remember however that this kind of swelling is completely normal and should disappear over the course of a week - and shouldn’t cause any lasting damage to the appearance of your tattoo.

Irritation

Sometimes, certain skincare products or materials that your new tattoo comes into contact with can cause the area to become irritated and inflamed.

This is because the skin around a new tattoo is extremely sensitive, and although certain products or materials may not irritate your skin normally, they could still very likely cause irritation to your tattoo.

pimples on new tattoo

Scabbing

Every single tattoo will scab while it heals. This is the only way that the body can protect the wound while the skin regenerates below the scabbing.

This isn’t to say that every new tattoo ends up forming big, thick, black, ugly looking scabs over the top it. Many tattoos scab very lightly - to the point that you might not even notice any scabs forming.

Scabbing Tattoo

Raised, light scabbing over the tattoo

However, although you may not be able to see these tiny scabs very well, they will definitely be there throughout at least a part of the healing process (normally between days 3-7), and therefore when you run your fingers over the area you may feel that it is very bobbly and raised.

This is because the nerve endings in your fingers are extremely sensitive, and what they’re probably picking up on is each of the tiny bumps, grooves and crevices within/between each of the little scabs that have grown over the ink.

Scarring

Although uncommon, tattoos can in-fact scar if the artist was too heavy-handed and penetrated the needles too far into the skin and caused deep tissue damage (there are also a couple of other reasons why a tattoo might scar too).

tattoo scarring

As scars form, the body sends quite a large blood supply to the area which can cause the scars to raise above the skin, and they can look and feel very bumpy, especially if a lot of damage was done.

After a month or two (but sometimes up to three months​), a scar will usually begin to settle into the skin and fade slightly and therefore will generally sit more flat against the surrounding area.

Infection

Again, infections are uncommon these days due to more sterile tattooing environments and better tattoo aftercare information - but they do still happen.

Depending on the exact type of infection contracted, symptoms and appearance issues can vary widely, but some of the known physical identifiers of a tattoo infection include swelling, white spots/pimples, oozing scabs and rashes - all of which can feel quite bumpy and raised.

white spots and tattoo infection

A tattoo that has contract a staph infection - big, white and bumpy boils are present all over the area

As mentioned though - tattoos infections don’t happen very often, so the chances that your lumpy, bumpy tattoo is infected are slim.

However, if you do seriously suspect that your tattoo may have become infected, then it’s best to seek the advice of a tattoo artist or a doctor as quickly as possible.

The sooner an infection is treated, the less damage it will likely cause to both your general health and also the longterm appearance of your tattoo.

What To Do About A Bumpy Or Raised Tattoo

The number one rule is “Don’t Panic”.

As mentioned at the start of the article, a tattoo can take many different physical forms during the healing process, and some will just naturally look slightly more raised and bumpy as the skin around the tattoo begins to regenerate and recover.

Whilst a tattoo is healing, it’s very difficult to try and predict whether these raised areas are temporary or permanent because the area is usually so red and inflamed at these early stages of a tattoos life.

What you may self-diagnose as a horrible appearance-altering bump, could actually just be caused by a bit of skin irritation, or could even just be a little bit of swelling.

If you do become extremely concerned that your tattoo isn’t healing as it should be however, then it’s always best to get in touch with your tattoo artist so they can give you their professional opinion on the situation.

Raised Bumps On An Old Tattoo - What Could They Be?

Old tattoos can begin to raise at certain points in their lifetime too. This can also be for a variety of reasons, but usually, the raised bumps are a lot smaller and look more like pimples and rashes.

These bumps on older tattoos are caused primarily by things such as heat rash from the sun (because your tattoo will always be very sensitive to sunlight and UV rays), and certain irritations and allergies that might develop, such as an allergy to the tattoo ink, which can sometimes actually take years to appear after getting a tattoo.


Just Got A New Tattoo?

REMEMBER - Tattoo aftercare is extremely important, and a good quality tattoo lotion is vital to ensure fast and proper healing of your new ink.

Hustle Butter Deluxe – Tattoo Butter for Before, During, and After the Tattoo Process – Lubricates and Moisturizes – 100% Vegan Replacement for Petroleum-Based Products – 5 oz

The best tattoo lotion I've ever personally used is a (vegan) tattoo aftercare product called Hustle Butter. This stuff works amazingly during the healing process - not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated but it's also very good at soothing that annoying itching.

Many other users of the product also advise that when using it from the very start of the healing process it appears to decrease healing times and seems to reduce heavy scabbing.​

Read more about Hustle Butter here. Have a quick look at some of the customer reviews and you'll see why it's one of the most popular tattoo lotions.​


Summary

Lumpy, bumpy and raised tattoos are all common during (and sometimes slightly after) the tattoo healing process. They can also even appear on much older tattoos too.

Generally, when an older tattoo becomes bumpy and raised, it usually doesn’t turn out to be anything serious. If after 5-7 days the lumps and bumps haven’t gone down or are getting worse, it may be worth speaking to a doctor for their advice.

However, it's very likely that these symptoms will probably go away on their own over the course of between a couple of days and a couple of weeks. Remember though, if you do become concerned about any raised bumps on your tattoo, and if they don't disappear after a couple of weeks then seek medical advice. Enjoy your ink.

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