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Why Do Old Tattoos Raise and Itch?

old tattoos itch

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If you have an old tattoo that suddenly raised up and itches, don’t worry! This is completely natural and not dangerous. Many people jump to conclusions and assume they have an allergy to the ink, however any ink allergy would likely have appeared earlier during the healing phase.

The reason a healed tattoo can suddenly become raised and itchy is due to the ink particles and your skin layers. Different inks have different particle sizes as well as freezing points. While being tattooed, your skin also scarred in lines, causing some places of your new skin to be slightly thicker than others. Because of all of these factors, the ink in your tattoo may raise up depending on humidity, temperature, and even barometric pressure in various areas.

When the tattoo raises up, it will cause your skin to feel itchy because it’s a different sensation than you’re used to feeling. But don’t worry, your tattoo will eventually flatten back out and it will cease to be itchy. This is very common and occurs to nearly everyone with a tattoo.

Can Your Body Reject a Tattoo Years Later?

While extremely rare, it is possible for your body to reject a tattoo after it’s been healed for several years. Interestingly, this only occurs with red ink. If your body is allergic to red ink, it may take several months to years before it can cause the inflammatory reaction to reject the ink. If this is the case, you don’t suddenly become allergic to the ink – you were always allergic to it and the allergy was developing over time. So if you’re afraid of this reaction, you can always go in and get a small red ink tattoo to test the waters.

Can a Tattoo Get Infected Years Later?

While most tattoo infections occur during the healing process, a healed tattoo can sill get infected. However, in order for this to occur, you will need to have some kind of wound around the tattoo for the bacteria to get in. Any small cut or scrape around a tattoo should be properly cared for and immediately cleaned to avoid infection and tattoo disfigurement.

Can You Scratch a Healed Tattoo?

You should especially not scratch a healing tattoo, but you also shouldn’t scratch a fully healed tattoo. As you may have seen, infections in tattoos can cause the tattoo to become completely disfigured. Steps to avoid getting an infection in your tattoo should always be taken. Scratching a tattoo may cause micro cuts in your skin and the area underneath your nails is incredibly dirty. Instead, try gently rubbing your healed tattoo or even slapping it to alleviate the itchy feeling.


Your old tattoo may raise up in spots and become itchy, but don’t worry: it’s completely natural and not dangerous. Due to the different make up of the ink particles and the thickness of your scars, your tattoo ink may raise up due to weather. The raising will feel like an itchiness. Once conditions return to normal, your tattoo will return to its flat state and will no longer be itchy.