My Tattoo Is Oozing Plasma

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 6, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

During the tattoo healing process, there are a few things that happen that are commonly considered “gross.” On this list are the scabs, the peeling, and yes, even the leaking.

Many people will notice their tattoo seems to be leaking plasma, blood, ink, or a combination of the three in the days following their tattoo, whether it’s their very first one or just another addition to the collection. 

If you’re worried that your tattoo leaking plasma means it’s infected, you’re not alone. Seeing this kind of bodily fluid on what seems to be perfectly good skin is understandably concerning. 

However, the good news is that this symptom is usually completely normal. For all the details about why this happens and when a tattoo leaking plasma might be a bad sign, continue reading.


Why Your Tattoo Is Leaking Plasma

The tattoo healing process is a strange process that lasts for several weeks. During this time, the skin where the tattoo was applied will go through many changes as it tries to fight the wound and keep you safe. Let’s take a look at the science behind plasma from a tattoo so you can determine if this is normal or worth seeking medical help.

The Science Behind It

Plasma is usually something we only see when we cut ourselves badly. Since our tattooed skin seems relatively intact after the application process, it seems odd that we’d see plasma oozing from the skin. However, you have to keep in mind that any tattoo is technically a wound. Just as your body would when you scrape your knee, it immediately begins working to protect your body from threats and heal the vulnerable area.

If your body is leaking clear fluid (not the same thing as pus), don’t worry. This isn’t a sign of infection; it’s just a sign that your body has gone beyond its typical threshold for a wound and is working overtime to heal it. When you see this, take it easy for a few days to give your body all the resources it needs to heal this particular spot.

The goal of plasma is to create a barrier between the skin and the air by moving to the surface and hardening. The leftover scab stops blood flow (to prevent bleeding) and seals the body off from the outside world to reduce the risk of infection while the rest of your body’s foot soldiers (proteins and nutrients) get to work to heal the injury.

When To Expect Leaking Plasma

You should expect to see leaking ink and fluids from the tattooed area for a few days, but if it goes longer than that, it may be a sign that you’re interfering with the process. Certain ointments can actually cause more leakage, so if you’ve been using something like petroleum jelly in an attempt to help your body heal, you may be doing more harm than good, and should switch to a more tattoo-friendly product.

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.

If your leaking extends beyond the first 3-4 days, first discontinue or reduce ointment use. You might see the leakage reduce after this. Remember: less is more, and a little goes a long way. If your skin feels wet or slimy to the touch after applying, you’ve used too much. Just a tiny bit is all you need.

If the leaking still doesn’t stop after this, you may need to seek professional help.

When To Be Concerned

There’s always a small risk of infection anytime a needle is used to pierce the skin. If you’re seeing leaking plasma and are also leaking pus, that’s not a good sign. You also don’t want the tattooed area to be hot to the tough or inflamed and red. Additionally, any foul odor emanating from the tattoo is bad news. 

All of these symptoms are signs of infection. If you think this might be the case, you should make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. While it might be tempting to go back to the tattoo parlor, a medical professional is best suited to diagnose the issue and treat it.

Final Thoughts

Anytime you see fluid leaking from the skin, it’s natural to be a bit worried. Since we’re used to only seeing leaking plasma after a major cut or wound, it’s confusing to see it coming from (what seems to be) in-tact skin. 

However, all tattoos are wounds. One of your body’s first responses is the production of plasma to create a safe barrier between the world and your skin and keep you safe while your body fends off infection. Seeing a bit of plasma during the first few days is completely normal.

As long as you’re aware of the signs of infections, you can take a deep breath and relax. If you see a symptom of infection, see a doctor. If not, trust that a bit of leaking plasma is simply part of the healing process.