White Bumps & Spots On New (And Old) Tattoos - What Are They?

After getting a new tattoo, you’d expect it to heal perfectly with no issues - but this isn’t always the case. Your ink can be affected by many different problems during the healing process, and white spots appearing on a new tattoo is one of them. Issues like these can also no-doubt cause much worry for the tattoo owner.

This article sets out to show you what exactly could be causing these white spots to appear on your tattoo, and what you should do to treat and prevent the problem from reoccurring.


What Is Causing White Spots On Your New Tattoo & How To Treat Them

white tattoo spots

White spots and bumps popping up all over your ink can look terrible and can be very concerning. However, there are many possible causes for this, and some are worse than others.

Below is a selection of the most common reasons why you might get white spots and pimples on your new tattoo, along with some advice about how to treat each cause:


Reason - Tattoos, especially very new ones, can be extremely sensitive to various products, materials and chemicals.

Many skincare products that are normally applied without problem onto your regular skin, may cause adverse reactions upon contact with a new tattoo.

Due to the sensitivity of a new tattoo, many materials such as various forms of clothing and bedding can also cause irritation to the area, which can often present itself as a rash around the tattoo.

The appearance of these areas of rashes and irritation can vary from person-to-person, but a common occurrence is seeing white spots appear around the affected skin.

white spot on a new tattoo

Treatment - Stop applying any strong chemicals or products to your new tattoo for at least 2-3 weeks while it heals.

You should also stop your tattoo from coming into contact with various objects or materials that you suspect could be causing it to become irritated.

Finally, if you tattoo is in an area where it's constantly rubbing against another part of your body, this can also cause irritation, so try to keep the tattoo free from any rubbing as much as possible.

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Reason - Areas of skin around a tattoo can sometimes form allergies against many things that you didn’t think you was allergic to before.

Although rare, some people are actually allergic to the various components that make up tattoo ink - and these tattoo ink allergies can take from a few days, to sometimes many years to develop and present themselves.

Once these allergies do develop, they can often cause the skin to break out in rashes, or sometimes in tiny white or red spots and dots which often cover large areas of the tattoo.

tattoo rash

This could be a possible allergic reaction

Treatment - Whilst mild allergies tend to pop up and then proceed to go away slowly of the course of a few days to a few weeks; a more serious allergy could become more troublesome.

If this is the case then it’s best to see a doctor who may be able to prescribe you allergy relief medication which should hopefully help the spots and pimples to go away.

Sometimes when this medication doesn’t work, and you have an allergy to the ink, the only way to prevent the problem from continuously reoccurring is to unfortunately have your tattoo removed (most commonly by laser).

This however is an extremely rare circumstance.


Reason - Although rare, there are a variety of reasons why tattoos may get infected.

Generally though, it’s either because the tattooing process was performed in an unsanitary environment with unsterilized equipment, or because of a lack of care and cleanliness during the tattoo aftercare period - which has then allowed nasty germs and bacteria to enter the wound..

Scratching your tattoo, failing to clean it properly, and bathing in dirty water are all common reasons as to why a tattoo may become infected.

How to clean a new tattoo:

Infections themselves can physically present themselves in many different ways depending on the severity of the infection, and what type of bacteria is causing it.

One of the symptoms of an infection though is clusters of white, pussy and oozy spots.

white spots and tattoo infection

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

Treatment - Infections can be serious, and if left untreated can cause not only long-term appearance issues with your tattoo, but they can also severely damage your general health depending on the type of infection that has been contracted.

If you suspect that your tattoo may have become infected, consult either your tattoo artist or a doctor as soon as possible. The quicker an infection can be treated, the less damage it will do to your tattoo and to your health.

Acne / Common Pimples

Reason - If you're prone to getting spots or acne in the area of your tattoo, then it’s likely that they will continue to appear once the area has been inked.

acne on new tattoo

Treatment - Let the spots go away on their own. Because the ink has been inserted into the skin lower than where the spots will form on the surface, they shouldn’t affect the appearance of your tattoo in the long-term.

However, popping these spots can cause scarring, infection and ink being pulled from the area (leaving faded and patchy areas within the tattoo), so strongly avoid picking, popping or scratching them.

Too Much Lotion

Reason - Although a good moisturizing or specialized tattoo healing lotion is great for your ink and for your skin, adding too much and smothering your tattoo can cause a few issues such as rashes and spots appearing in the area as well as tattoo bubbling.

Adding more lotion before cleaning off the previous application and allowing the new lotion to build up over the old stuff can also cause problems with white spots and rashes appearing over your tattoo, so be careful not to do this.

Lotion on tattoo

This is FAR too much lotion and some should be blotted off with a paper towel

Treatment - Only apply a very thin layer of lotion to the area, and always clean the tattoo with skin-sensitive soap and lukewarm water before adding any more.

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

If you realize that you’ve added too much lotion, gently dab/blot off the excess with a clean paper towel.

Unknown Cause

Reason - Sometimes, white spots, lumps, and bumps can form over your tattoo for seemingly no good reason at all - and they will often end up disappearing just as quickly as they formed.

Treatment - If you’re not sure what's causing these white spots to appear on your tattoo, leave them for a few days to see if they begin to fade and disappear.

If however they don’t go away or continue to get worse - see your tattoo artist or a doctor for further advice.

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

If white spots and bumps begin to appear on an older tattoo, this can also likely be due to many different reasons, but will most-probably be due to the same reasons as to why they might also appear on a new tattoo as well (all of the reasons described above).

It must be noted however that infections aren’t as common in older tattoos when compared to new ones due to the skin having already healed itself and therefore blocking further bacteria from entering the area.

It is worth knowing though that things like heat rash and prickly heat from sun exposure can be more common, as the tattooed area is likely to remain sensitive to the harmful UV rays for many years.


White tattoo spots can be caused for many reasons, but they are not always something to worry about, and a lot of the time the spots will go away gradually on their own and cause no lasting damage to the tattoo.

If you're concerned that the white spots on your tattoo may be an indication of something potentially serious however, such as an infection, then get in touch with your tattoo artist or doctor as soon as possible for a professional diagnosis.

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