Whether you’re new to tattoos or a seasoned enthusiast, it’s crucial to understand that the healing process is a vital part of the journey. Knowing how to properly care for your tattoo ensures its long-lasting quality. Today, we’ll be addressing a specific concern in this area – how to stop tattoo bubbling

Dealing with tattoos that develop bubbles or cause itching can be quite frustrating. While some individuals may never encounter this issue, others might experience it with some of their tattoos. If you’re considering getting a new tattoo, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with how to handle a bubbling tattoo, just in case you encounter it.

Let’s take a closer look at bubbling tattoos. This article explores what they are and what causes them. It also discusses how to address a bubbling tattoo and proper aftercare.

What is Tattoo Bubbling?

Tattoo bubbling refers to the formation of small raised areas on the tattooed skin that resembles bubbles. These bubbles can be filled with clear or colored liquid. It may cause concern and sometimes discomfort for those who’ve just got their first tattoo. 

This phenomenon can be alarming, especially for individuals who are getting their first tattoo. However, understanding its causes, implications, and proper aftercare can help.

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Why Is My Tattoo Bubbling?

Experiencing tattoo bubbling can be disconcerting, but it’s not entirely uncommon. In many cases, some degree of bubbling can be considered normal during the initial stages of healing. 

Tattoo bubbling occurs when scabs are exposed to excessive moisture. When your tattoo is not properly dried after showering, it causes the scabs to become saturated with water. Applying an excessive amount of ointment or lotion further worsens the situation.

Tattoo bubbling also increases the chances of tattoo damage and the onset of an infection.

Other causes of tattoo bubbling could be inadequate cleaning and improper care of the tattooed area. This can introduce bacteria, leading to an infection that presents as bubbling.

Some individuals may also have allergic reactions to specific ink ingredients, causing the skin to react and form bubbles.

If the tattoo artist goes too deep or works the skin too much, it can cause trauma. This trauma can lead to bubbling during healing.

Is Tattoo Bubbling Normal?

No, the presence of bubbles on tattoos is not usually a normal aspect of the tattoo healing process. But it is more common than you might think and can occur quite easily. The emergence of a bubble on your tattoo can be due to an excess of moisture within the tattooed skin.

Tattoo Bubbling vs. Infection

Tattoo bubbling refers to the formation of raised areas on the tattooed skin that resemble bubbles. These bubbles can contain clear or colored liquid. They are often a result of excess moisture coming into contact with scabs that are in the process of healing. 

Tattoo bubbling can occur when the tattooed area is not thoroughly dried after being exposed to water. It can also occur when too much ointment or lotion is applied, trapping moisture within the scabs. Bubbling is typically not a cause for concern and can improve with proper care and time. It can sometimes be accompanied by mild discomfort or itchiness.

Tattoo infection, on the other hand, is a more serious concern. It occurs when harmful bacteria or other microorganisms enter the open wound created by the tattoo needle. Infections can lead to symptoms such as 

  • redness, 
  • swelling, 
  • increased pain, 
  • heat around the tattoo, 
  • discharge of pus, and 
  • even fever. 

If you have an infection, you need to see a doctor immediately so it doesn’t worsen and cause problems. In severe cases, an untreated infection can lead to abscess formation or more widespread health issues.

Here are some key differences between tattoo bubbling and infection:

  • Appearance

Bubbling appears as raised, fluid-filled areas resembling bubbles. While infection can manifest as redness, swelling, and pus-filled areas.

  • Symptoms

Bubbling is often accompanied by mild discomfort or itchiness, while infection can cause more severe pain, heat, and even fever.

  • Healing

Bubbling is generally a part of the natural healing process and can improve with proper care. However, infection indicates a problem that requires medical intervention.

  • Duration

Bubbling might last for a few days to weeks and tends to improve over time. Infections can worsen quickly if not addressed promptly.

What to Do When Bubbles Appear in Your Tattoo

If you notice bubbling on your tattoo, follow these steps:

  • No Moisture Exposure: Put a halt to the application of lotion or ointment onto your tattooed area. This cessation of moisture can play a vital role in rectifying the situation.
  • Refrain from Picking: Despite the undeniable urge, refrain from touching or picking at the scab. Recognize that even minor friction could lead to the detachment of the entire scab.
  • Allow Your Tattoo to Breathe: Offering your tattooed area exposure to fresh air can facilitate the re-drying of the scab. This process might extend over several days, which requires patience on your part.
  • Resume Regular Aftercare: Resume your standard aftercare routine the following day. Ensure meticulous drying of your tattoo before applying a small quantity of ointment or lotion.
  • Cleanup: In case you apply excess lotion, delicately blot off the excess with a clean paper towel. Refrain from attempting to rub it off, as this action can agitate the healing wound.
  • Consulting a Dermatologist: If you suspect an infection or you’re worried about the bubbling, talk to a dermatologist or doctor.

Remember, patience and gentle care are key during this restorative phase.

How to Prevent Tattoo Bubbles

Proper aftercare is crucial for the healing process of any tattoo. It helps prevent complications such as infection, fading of colors, and, yes, bubbles on tattoo. 

Follow these steps to minimize the risk:

  1. Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. They are experienced professionals who know how to ensure your tattoo heals properly.
  2. Gently clean the tattooed area with lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free soap. Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
  3. Use a tattoo-specific ointment or a recommended alternative to keep the tattoo moisturized and aid in healing.
  4. During the initial healing phase, avoid excessive soaking of the tattoo, such as prolonged baths or swimming.
  5. Tight clothing can rub against the tattoo and cause irritation. Opt for loose garments during the healing process.

What is the Healing Time for Tattoo Bubbling

Generally, minor tattoo scabs may recover within a few hours, whereas large ones might take a few days to fully heal.

The healing time for tattoo bubbling varies depending on factors such as

  • the extent of the bubbling,
  • your body’s healing ability, and
  • how well you stick to aftercare instructions.


Tattoo bubbling can be a temporary and often manageable issue during the tattoo healing process. To ensure your tattoo heals well, take good care of it, keep it clean, and avoid allergens or infections. Remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to consult a professional to ensure your tattoo heals beautifully.

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