English as a Foreign Language

Tattoo Allergies

Tattoo Allergies – An Uncommon But Real Problem

Once seen as something only the bad boys did, tattoos have gone mainstream in the past decade or two. Now it is seen as something cool, a way to express yourself in the most permanent manner. While most people have no lingering side effects once the tattoo scabbing and healing process is over, there are a small percentage of people who experience some type of allergic reaction. Tattoo allergies are often the result of the type of inks used.

Ink Ingredients

Most tattoo artists don’t really read the ink labels to see what ingredients are in there but if you are prone to allergies, chances are your tattoo allergies will be the result of red or yellow ink. In the past, many brands of tattoo ink used mercury in them but this practice has greatly declined because of its harmful effects.
However, inks today that can cause tattoo allergies contain such elements as nickel, cadmium and chromium. While you may not really run across cadmium or chromium much, many earrings and other pieces of jewelry have nickel, so if you have ever had a reaction to it, chances are that you will develop some type of reaction to a tattoo.

Telltale Signs

It is important to note that not everyone who will suffer from tattoo allergies will exhibit signs immediately. Some people won’t develop a rash or inflamed redness for a month or two or even years later, which is the reason why a skin patch test is not really conducive to detecting allergies before getting a tattoo.
For people with tattoo allergies that present themselves years later, the reaction could be itchiness and even raised bumpy areas in certain colored parts of the tattoo. Sometimes, it is the weather that can cause a reaction or even a raise body temperature. The heat, whether it is from body temperature or the weather can cause the skin to swell slightly, which could affect the tattoo. If your own tattoo feels particularly itchy during hotter weather, this could be the reason for your tattoo allergies.


If you develop tattoo allergies not long after you get your inked masterpiece, you can apply over the counter treatment onto the rash or affected area. Antibiotic ointment or hydrocortisone creams often bring relief, as do regular anti-itch creams and cold compresses. If the area does not clear itself within a week or so, it would be wise to visit a dermatologist who will likely prescribe some type of steroid to combat your tattoo allergies.