Tattoo Bubbling: Why Does It Happen & How To Fix It

Tattoo bubbling can strike fear in the hearts of especially those new to getting tattoos. Thankfully, it is seldomly dangerous, but it can damage the final look of your ink if you ignore it entirely. In this article, you will learn all about tattoo bubbling, why it happens & how to fix it. 

What Causes Tattoo Bubbling?

Tattoo aftercare is a tricky business. Tattoo artists can explain what you should and shouldn’t do and point you in the direction of the best tattoo aftercare balm, but actually following their advice is all up to you. Unfortunately, tattoos don’t heal overnight and depending on the size and design, you’re going to be nursing this wound for a while to come. 

If you don’t care for your tattoo correctly, one of the things you may see is the scabs on your tattoo swelling and becoming a gooey mess. This happens because your tattoo got too wet, either from not drying it off fully after a shower or due to applying too much ointment. 

The problem is that when these scabs get wet, they tend to stick to anything they touch. This makes drying the tattoo and caring for it extremely difficult. Not to mention that moving around, in general, can cause the scabs to accidentally pull off. 

Will it Damage Your Tattoo?

Whenever scabs are lifted off of your skin too early, it causes damage to your tattoo. You have to be very careful with tattoo bubbling. Avoid it rubbing off on clothing or against couches, etc. You also have to be very watchful to not touch it with dirty hands as such warm and wet places are perfect for bacteria to grow and cause infection. This opens up a whole new can of worms and will only lead to more damage. 

Is Your Tattoo Infected?

A tattoo is an open wound and should be cared for as one. The damage to the skin is caused by poking it and breaking the surface. This gives germs a lot of places to enter the skin and cause infection. 

Apart from getting your tattoo done by a professional tattoo artist, aftercare is the second most important factor to prevent tattoo infection. When you experience tattoo bubbling, it means something went wrong in your aftercare routine. If you’re not familiar with it, you may get a big fright and immediately think that your tattoo is infected. This isn’t always the case. 

Your tattoo, even when healthy, may be red, raised, and itchy. You may even see some clear liquid leaking from it until scabs start to form. This is nothing to worry about. 

However, look out for these signs of infection:

  • Redness is increasing and spreading out around your tattoo. 
  • Pain doesn’t go away but increases. 
  • There’s a bumpy, red rash around and on top of your tattoo. 
  • You can see pus leaking from your tattoo.
  • There are open sores on your tattoo. 
  • You have a fever or experience chills. 

If your tattoo is infected, go see your doctor. Any infection is a serious health concern and shouldn’t be left untreated. Furthermore, if you don’t treat your infected tattoo, you stand a chance of ruining it. 

As mentioned, tattoo bubbling doesn’t mean your tattoo is infected. If you don’t experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, you can move straight to addressing the bubbling.

tattoo bubbling

How To Fix Tattoo Bubbling 

The only way to stop tattoo bubbling is to get your tattoo to dry out as quickly as possible. 

Follow these steps:

  1. Don’t apply ointment or lotion to your tattoo for one day. 
  2. Don’t wash your tattoo or get it wet in any way until it is fully dry. 
  3. Don’t cover your tattoo but leave it exposed to dry. You want the scabs to be harder and more securely attached to your skin. This may take a while—even up to a day. 
  4. Don’t wear clothes or do any activities where the scabs can be rubbed or ripped off your skin. 
  5. After the tattoo has dried out significantly, you can return to the normal tattoo aftercare routine your professional recommended. However, this time around focus on drying your tattoo thoroughly after a shower before applying only a small amount of the aftercare lotion. 

Of course, as they say, prevention is better than cure.

Tips to prevent tattoo bubbling include: 

  • Don’t let your tattoo get too wet when you’re showering or washing it. 
  • Don’t take a bath and avoid swimming while your tattoo is still healing
  • Dry your tattoo completely before you apply aftercare lotion. 
  • Don’t apply too much ointment or lotion. Blot off any excess with a clean paper towel. 

Final Thoughts

Many people who go for tattoos experience tattoo bubbling during the healing process. It’s usually not something major to worry about and can easily be taken care of. Despite this, it shouldn’t be ignored or else it may develop into an infection that can damage your tattoo and negatively impact your health.  

The easiest way to avoid tattoo bubbling is to prevent over-moisturizing the skin, especially the tattoo healing scabs. The level of scabbing you experience depends on how your body reacts to the tattoo, as well as the skill of your tattoo artist. As long as you don’t pick off the scabs, it shouldn’t affect the final outcome of your tattoo’s appearance. 

Tattoo bubbling can be a worrying sight, however, if you follow the tips in this article, you’ll be able to reverse the bubbling, and give your tattoo the time to heal as vibrant as the day you got it. 

Leave a Comment