Pimples Like Bumps On Tattoo: What To Do?!

April 27, 2022
Max Stevens

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Pimples on Tattoo and What To Do About It?

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Tattoos are a beautiful way to express yourself, but what about pimples on tattoos? What should you do about it?

Pimples on Tattoo and What To Do About It?

Have you ever thought of how to get rid of tattoo pimples? Let us take you a few years back before we answer that question. Do you remember the time when you were in high school? The big dance is tomorrow; you’re filled with excitement. You get a final glance at your prom dress or tuxedo, then try to get some rest and wake up in the morning.

The next day, you look in the mirror, filled with dread. A giant pimple formed seemingly overnight at the top of your forehead.

We’ve all been there.

The feeling is the same with pimples on tattoos. You wait patiently for your tattoo to heal, and it looks great. Then, one day, you wake up to find a big pimple on top of it!

So why do pimples appear on tattoos? What can you do about it? What are the risks associated with it?

What Are Pimples?

Pimples, also known as zits, are tiny pustules or papules on the skin. They are most common during puberty because of sudden hormonal changes, but they can develop at any age.

Spots form when sebaceous glands (the tiny organ that produces oil) get blocked and infected, resulting in large, red, pus-filled sores.

Pimples are most commonly found on the face, back, and chest. This is due to the abundance of sebaceous glands in these skin regions.

Pimples can take different forms depending on the severity and blockage’s effect on the oil glands.

Here are the different types of pimples:

  • Blackheads: Open bumps on the skin filled with excess oil and dead skin. They look as if dirt is in the pimple. The dark spots are caused by an irregular light reflection of the clogged follicle.
  • Whiteheads: Bumps that remain closed by oil and dead skin.
  • Papules: Small red or pink bumps that become inflamed.
  • Pustules: Pimples containing pus. They look like whiteheads surrounded by red rings. They can cause scarring if picked or scratched.
  • Fungal acne (pityrosporum folliculitis) occurs when an excess of yeast develops in the hair follicles. They can become itchy and inflamed.
  • Nodules: Solid pimples that are deep in your skin. They are large and painful.
  • Cysts: Pus-filled pimples. These can cause scars.

Despite the old wives’ tales, there is insufficient evidence to confirm that food intake plays a part in pimple production.

Additionally, if you have white pimples on your tattoos, you are likely to experience an allergic reaction. This can be caused by several factors, including:

  • the ink
  • the dyes
  • or even the environment in which the tattoo was inked.

 If you think you may be having an allergic reaction, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the cause and help you treat the reaction.

Aquaphor is a medication used to temporarily relieve minor skin irritations, dryness, and cracked skin. It is a water-based ointment that contains petroleum jelly and glycerin.

This is the most recommended post-care treatment for new tattoos. This helps moisturize the skin and keeps the tattoo from drying out and cracking.

Why Do I Get Pimples On My Tattoo?

Pimples can grow on tattoos, too, as spots grow anywhere.

Freshly tattooed skin is very delicate and prone to any kind of skin issue. It’s why proper care and hygiene are important for tattoos.

Tattoos invite different forms of irritation, and pimples are no exception. This is because of the trauma that the needle causes to the skin. The penetration of the needle into your skin is about 50 to 3000 times per minute, which can create a breeding ground for bacteria.

Zits can also pop out in old tattoos from time to time, as old tattoos are still considered modifications to the skin. Thus, the skin’s integrity is already compromised.

Nevertheless, this possibility varies from person to person as it depends on the body’s hormone production.

How To Get Rid of Tattoo Pimples

First, make sure that you’re not dealing with an allergic reaction or an infection. If it is indeed a pimple, do not attempt to apply harsh anti-pimple creams to it. Tattooed skin is very delicate and could possibly damage your tattoo.

Applying gentle soap and water to the affected area should be enough to eliminate the pimple. One helpful way is to apply tattoo aftercare lotions and creams found online.

Be mindful not to pop or pick the pimple as this can damage the skin and introduce bacteria around the tattoo, leading to more significant problems like infection. Let the pimple run its course, and just maintain a clean environment for your tattoo to heal generally on its own.

Here’s a list of other things you should do if you have a pimple on your tattoo:

  • Apply a warm compress to the area for a few minutes several times a day to help draw out the pus.
  • Avoid using makeup or any other products on the area until it has healed completely.

If the pimple does not go away on its own or if it begins to look infected (red, swollen, hot to the touch, oozing pus), see a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible. An infection could lead to permanent damage and scarring.

Are These Actually Pimples or Something Else Entirely?

Identifying a lesion or bump formed in your tattoo is very important. You might have something entirely different from an otherwise harmless pimple.

Many possible skin disorders commonly appear on tattoos that may be mistaken as pimples.

Here are possible skin irritations on tattoos that may resemble a pimple:


Skin allergies on tattoos (rashes or small bumps) may happen when specific components in ink trigger your body’s immune cells. This makes the cells go on overdrive as they try to destroy the allergen.

The most common offender with this type of irritation is heavy metals found in ink.


The powerful ultraviolet rays from the sun can react with certain chemicals in tattoo ink and cause irritation inside your skin.

Contact dermatitis

This skin irritation occurs when you constantly scratch and disturb the tattoo’s healing process.


Pus-filled infections around the tattoos happen when your tattoo has been subjected to pathogens like bacteria and fungi coming from the skin itself or the environment.


Moisture can accumulate in the tattoo and cause fluid-filled bumps around the area that may resemble bubbles or blisters that could look like large pimples.

Can Pimples Damage My Tattoo?

If you see a pimple forming around a tattoo, old or new. It’s best to leave it alone like you would on a regular pimple that begins in the face or back. Letting the pimple run its course is the best way to prevent scarring and damaging your piece of art.

Popping or scratching the pimple may leave a permanent scar. The bacteria inside could spread to other parts of the tattoo to form newer pimples or even increase your risk for infections.

Though permanent damage is unlikely, it can still happen.

Pimples on tattoos last for 15 to 30 days. As long as you keep your tattooed area clean and free from any contamination, the pimples will eventually go away on their own.

It’s important to know what kind of skin irritation you are dealing with and try to provide the prescribed care needed to mitigate it.

When to See a Doctor?

Suppose you notice that the pimple is not subsiding after a week, or the pimples are multiplying and clustering around the tattoo. It is best to consult with your dermatologist for further instructions if you observe signs like this forming around the tattoo.

Some pimples can form cysts that damage your skin and leave a permanent scar on your tattoo. Your dermatologist would know what to do and can give you advice on dealing with the cyst.

A professional eye is the best way to determine what kind of irritation your tattoo is presenting. Dermatologists can help you by prescribing medication stronger than the over-the-counter solutions that may not be enough to mitigate the irritation in question.

Consult a physician if you see or feel these symptoms present in your tattoo.

  • Clustered pustules around the tattoo
  • Hard, painful bumps
  • Bumps are now spreading across your body
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Pus oozing from the tattoo
  • Foul smells coming from the tattoo

Always be keen on observing your tattoo because the sooner you notice a more significant problem, the greater the chances of minimizing damage to your skin.

Final Thoughts

Having a tattoo can have many problems, but having a pimple shouldn’t discourage you from having one. As long as you arm yourself with the knowledge of taking care of your tattoo and take the necessary steps to keep it safe, you should be fine.

By always being mindful and vigilant, you already have the advantage.

There’s no reliable way to avoid problems, but knowledge and patience could go a long way in achieving something great. Tattoos are a great way to express art, so take the leap and get that tattoo you’ve always hoped for.


Max Stevens

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