What Happens If I Get A Pimple Or Spot On My Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on August 24, 2018
    Last Updated: January 19, 2021

Although spots and pimples on a tattoo can look worrying, they’re unlikely to cause any long-term damage to the area. However, trying to get rid of pimples in haste with unconventional methods can certainly cause issues with your ink if you’re not careful.


Will Spots Damage My New Tattoo?

Blemishes and pimples actually form above where the tattoo ink resides (unlike some cysts), meaning the tattoo stays damage-free when a breakout of acne occurs over the tattoo.

However, popping and picking at the spots and pimples on your tattoo can have a worse outcome. Although innocent-looking enough, popping a pimple here and there on your ink can create a couple of problems.

Firstly, if your tattoo is new and still healing, the skin is going to essentially be a big open wound, and the ink will likely not have completely set in place.

Because of this – picking, popping, or scratching at a pimple can quite easily displace any unsettled ink and cause it to be pulled out and away from the skin.

Realize that every time you squeeze a pimple, whatever comes out also ruptures deep into the skin (Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction).  When it ruptures below, it cannot only directly harm the tattoo ink, but the inflammation associated with this may cause a divot in your skin and further damage.

This kind of damage can eventually lead to your tattoo looking patchy and faded in certain areas, and can even lead to tattoo scarring in extreme cases.

Secondly, as the tattoo is an open wound, it is very susceptible to infection. If a popped pimple becomes infected, it can cause a lot of appearance-altering damage to the area, so refrain from popping, and keep the tattooed area as clean as possible. If you have any reason to believe that your tattoo has become infected, seek advice from a doctor or tattoo artist as soon as possible.

How to clean a new tattoo:

Treatment Suggestions

The first thing to do is to ensure any pimples on the tattoo aren’t due to infection or an allergic reaction.

Then, importantly, you need to steer clear from popping or picking at any of the pimples. Doing this is never a good idea, and will not improve the situation in any way. Try to prevent an infection from setting in around your tattoo at any cost.

Another thing you should avoid doing is applying/rubbing any harsh chemicals/products over the area (like most acne treatment lotions).

These chemicals can be very strong, and because your skin will be so sensitive in the weeks after getting a new tattoo, these chemicals can cause potential irritation and inflammation around the tattooed skin, not to mention possible delayed healing times.

Instead, make sure to clean the area regularly to prevent further spreading and outbreaks of pimples/acne, and apply a good skin-sensitive tattoo lotion afterward to help soothe the area and hydrate the skin.

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan 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.

If any pimples or moderate acne do affect the healing of your tattoo, and end up creating permanent blemishes/fading around the area, your tattoo artist should be happy to book you in for a touch-up, which is normally free, to see if the problem can be rectified

What About Older Tattoos?

The advice for spots and pimples on older tattoos is much the same as above, except that your tattooed skin will generally be less sensitive and delicate as time goes on, meaning that it should be a bit more durable against various skin conditions such as acne and common infection.

However, it’s still best to refrain from popping any pimples in the area just to be safe, and in order to completely minimize the risk of potentially causing an infection around the tattoo.

It’s still also advisable to stay away from harsh chemicals, even when your tattoo is well-aged. This is because these products can still cause irritation to the area (tattooed skin is always more sensitive than regular skin), and can actually cause the tattoo to fade over time if applied regularly.

If your acne over the tattoo is moderate and stubborn; instead of using a cream, explain the situation to your Board Certified Dermatologist as they will be able to provide advice for your acne without harming the appearance of your tattoo.

Summary

Spots, pimples and acne on a new tattoo shouldn’t cause too much of a problem during the healing process, and shouldn’t create any lasting damage to older tattoos either, as long as you refrain from popping and picking at the pimples.

Don’t try to clear the area up using any harsh products or chemicals, and by allowing the pimples to disappear on their own, your tattoo is much more likely to remain problem-free for many years to come.