Can You Get a Tattoo Over a Burn Scar?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 5, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

If you have a burn scar, especially one that’s easy to see, it’s only natural to feel self-conscious. You probably cover it up with clothing when possible, but what about a more permanent solution? Many people with burn scars consider hiding them with a tattoo, but will that work – and is it safe? 

The relationship between scarred skin and new tattoos is essential to consider before making an appointment at your local parlor. Here’s a closer look at how getting a tattoo over a burn scar works and what results you can expect.


Here’s How Burn Scars Affect Tattoos

Many people will tell you that it is extremely popular to get a new tattoo over an old scar. Tattoos are a cool and attractive way to cover-up the scar entirely or a way to add style and accents around it. 

While tattooing over a scar is possible, you should carefully consider your options before making an appointment. 

What Are Scars?

Scars are visual representations of how your body has healed in response to damage. Scars can appear as stretched skin, discolored skin, or raised bumps or streaks on the skin’s surface.

Scars usually involve damaged cells and tissues in the dermis, which is the layer of your skin below the surface layer. When you receive a tattoo, the ink penetrates through several layers of the skin and will likely come in contact with that damaged area. 

How Burn Scars Affect Tattoo Healing

Even when no scars are involved, getting a tattoo at any spot on your body will require around one to three weeks of healing. During that time, you should regularly disinfect the tattooed area and apply gentle, unscented lotion to keep the skin moisturized. 

The peeling and discomfort you may feel during the healing process on unscarred skin is expected. Tattooing over scarred skin, however, often complicates matters. 

When ink seeps into the scarred tissues of your skin, it can spread, blur, or discolor in unexpected and uncontrollable ways. As your tattoo heals on the burn scar, the colors used in the tattoo can change, and the linework may appear messy or blurred. 

You can’t control how a scar heals. Unfortunately, that means it’s difficult to predict how your tattoo will ultimately look on top of your scar. 

Is There an Increased Risk of Infection?

The design, placement, and artistic skill used to apply the tattoo are essential factors in the overall result. However, the care taken during the healing process also makes a significant difference in your tattoo’s long-term appearance. 

Infection is the number one concern when caring for a new tattoo. Unfortunately, infection is an even higher threat when you’re caring for a new tattoo that covers a scar, or the skin surrounding it. 

Tissues affected by a burn scar continue to heal, even after significant time has passed. If your tattoo is on top of a burn scar, it’s possible that it can become infected as your injury attempts to heal itself from the inside out. 

An infected tattoo may cause a rash, fever, intense swelling, drainage, or increased pain. Severe complications from infected tattoos are infrequent but still possible. The best way to avoid infection is by frequently sanitizing and moisturizing the site of the tattoo.

What Types of Tattoos are Best?

Even though there are many potential downsides, some people still want to cover their burn scar with a tattoo. If you decide to go this route, it’s important to understand the types of tattoos that will work best.

Generally, you want to avoid any designs with straight lines or other precise elements. After all, you can’t know exactly how the ink will disperse throughout the scarred skin. Avoid geometric shapes, faces, and detailed illustrations.

Instead, you want an image or design with a loose, more free-flowing look. Large sections of bold colors can help hide the scar. Additionally, you can get a flesh-colored tattoo designed specifically to help hide skin blemishes.

Final Thoughts

Can you get a tattoo over a burn scar? Yes, but it’s not always a good idea. 

The added complexity associated with the application, and the unpredictability of the final result, means you’ll need to take extra steps during the healing process. Plus, you might not be happy with what the tattoo eventually looks like. 

Instead, you should strongly consider getting your tattoo in a different spot on your body. Barring that, you should at least wait until your scar is several years old. 

If you do decide to get a tattoo over a burn scar, search for an artist with plenty of experience tattooing on top of damaged skin. Additionally, avoid overexposure to the sun or harsh elements during the healing process, follow the artist’s aftercare instructions closely, and use an appropriate moisturizing lotion to aid and speed up healing.

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.

All bodies and tattoos are unique, so the experience and healing process will vary from person to person.