Why Is My Tattoo Bumpy & Raised?

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 a new tattoo becoming raised and bumpy.

While the aftercare process does sometimes go wrong, much 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.

What Causing Raising & Bumpiness On A New Tattoo?

Bumpy and raised tattoo
This type of raising is completely normal on a new tattoo

One thing to note is that nearly all tattoos will look and feel bumpy as they heal – 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 heal over the areas where the tattoo needles caused trauma to the skin.

white ink tattoo can look especially raised due to its extremely light nature. Some tattoos can be so light, they essentially just look like raised scar tissue.

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 scaly. This is all completely normal and can sometimes take up to a couple of months to completely disappear.

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


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 swelling can sometimes make the tattoo look raised

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 it can begin the healing process.

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

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

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


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.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated, but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times, and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.


Every single tattoo will scab while it heals. This is the only way 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.

Raised, light scabbing over the tattoo

However, although you may not be able to see these scabs very well, especially if they’re light, 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 various bumps and bobbles.

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.


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).

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 3 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.

In some rare cases, keloids can form over a tattoo. Keloids are prominent, raised areas of scar tissue that can severely affect the appearance of a tattoo if not treated professionally.


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.

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

As mentioned though – tattoo 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, 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 cause to both your general health, and to 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.

While a tattoo is still 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 tattoo’s 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, and certain allergies that might develop, such as an allergy to the tattoo ink, which can take years to initially appear after getting a tattoo.


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.

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 go away on their own over the course of between a couple of days and a couple of weeks. Remember, though, that 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 advice just to be safe. Enjoy your ink.