Why Does My Tattoo Feel Rough?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on March 02, 2023
    Last Updated: April 7, 2023

Tattoos are a form of body art that can hold significant personal meaning, so it’s natural to want them to look their best. However, sometimes tattoos can feel rough or bumpy, causing discomfort and even ruining the appearance of the design.

If you’re experiencing a rough tattoo, it’s important to understand the causes and what you can do to improve the situation.

In this article, we’ll explore the reasons behind rough tattoos and what you can do to make your tattoo feel smooth and comfortable once again.

Causes of Rough Tattoos

Poor Aftercare

One of the main reasons why tattoos can feel rough is due to poor aftercare. Tattoos need to be properly cared for in order to heal correctly and maintain their smooth appearance. When people fail to follow aftercare instructions, they can experience complications such as scabbing, itching, and infections. Additionally, using the wrong aftercare products can also lead to roughness. It is important to use products recommended by the tattoo artist and to avoid using anything with alcohol or fragrances, as these can dry out the skin and cause it to feel rough.

The Healing Process

During the healing process, tattoos can feel rough for a variety of reasons. One of the most common causes of roughness during healing is scabbing. Scabbing occurs when the tattoo is healing and a thick, protective layer of skin forms over the tattooed area. This is a natural part of the healing process, but it can cause the skin to feel rough and uncomfortable.

In some cases, itching can also occur, which can lead to people picking at the scabs, causing the skin to become rough. To avoid infection and other damage to your tattoo, try as best as possible not to scratch the area.

Improper Application of the Tattoo

In some cases, rough tattoos can be the result of improper application of the tattoo. Lack of experience or skill of the tattoo artist, as well as the use of non-sterile equipment, can lead to rough tattoos.

Allergic Reactions to Tattoo Pigments

In some cases, people may develop rough tattoos due to an allergic reaction to the tattoo pigments. This can cause the skin to become itchy, red, and rough, and can be treated with topical ointments or antihistamines. If you have a history of allergies or have experienced a reaction to tattoos in the past, it is important to discuss this with your tattoo artist and to seek medical attention if necessary.

Prevention and Treatment of Rough Tattoos

Proper Aftercare

Proper aftercare is essential in preventing rough tattoos. It is important to clean the tattoo regularly, using a gentle soap and warm water, and to apply the recommended aftercare products provided by the tattoo artist. Keeping the tattoo out of the sun and covered can also help to prevent roughness and maintain its smooth appearance. Regularly moisturizing the tattooed area can also help to prevent the skin from becoming dry and rough.

Avoid Overworking the Tattoo

In order to avoid overworking the tattoo, it is important to wait for the recommended healing time before going back for touch-ups.

Choosing a Reputable Tattoo Artist

Choosing a reputable tattoo artist is another key factor in preventing rough tattoos. It is important to check the portfolio and reviews of the tattoo artist to ensure they have the experience and skill needed to produce a smooth, well-healed tattoo. Additionally, it is important to make sure the tattoo artist uses sterile equipment, as using non-sterile equipment can lead to rough tattoos and infections.

Seeing a Doctor if an Infection Occurs

If an infection occurs, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Recognizing the signs of an infection, such as redness, swelling, and pain, can help to prevent the situation from becoming more serious. Treatment for an infected tattoo may include antibiotics or other medications, as well as keeping the tattoo clean and protected. In some cases, the tattoo may need to be removed or revised in order to properly treat the infection.


A rough-feeling tattoo can be a cause for concern, but it’s not necessarily a sign of a problem. The rough texture may be due to scabbing, a reaction to the tattoo ink or an overworked tattoo. Proper aftercare can help minimize scabbing and allow the skin to heal smoothly. If you suspect that your rough tattoo may be due to an allergic reaction or infection, seek medical attention immediately.

Remember, getting a tattoo is a significant decision and a form of body art that requires careful consideration and proper aftercare. Be sure to choose a reputable tattoo artist and follow their aftercare instructions carefully to help ensure that your tattoo heals properly and looks its best. With proper care and attention, your rough-feeling tattoo can become a beautiful and meaningful piece of art that you can enjoy for years to come.

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