If you just got a tattoo and discovered ingrown hairs sprouting on the freshly tattooed parts of your skin, you might be in a bit of a panic.
Do the ingrown hairs mean you’re having a bad reaction to the tattoo? Will they ruin the ink or the design? Is there anything you should do to treat these ingrown hairs?
In this article, we’ll go over what causes those ingrown hairs, why you shouldn’t worry about them, and what you should (and shouldn’t) do if they pop up over your tattoo.
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Like the name implies, an ingrown hair is body hair that’s grown into/through the skin instead of growing out of it.
Ingrown hairs irritate and inflame the hair follicle, which causes it to swell, resulting in small red or white bumps on the surface of the skin.
Ingrown hairs might be itchy or a bit uncomfortable, but they’re not a serious condition.
Is Your Tattoo Safe?
Your tattoo is permanent because the tattoo gun deposits the ink in layers of skin that are well below the one on the surface.
Your ingrown hair will never usually affect the layer of skin that has been tattooed. So, there’s no need to worry: your ingrown hairs won’t ruin your tattoo, and they won’t compromise your healing.
The only way an ingrown hair is going to damage your tattoo is if you consistently squeeze and scratch at the area, which could possibly lead to infection and scarring.
What Causes Ingrown Hair on a Tattoo?
Because these ingrown hairs show up soon after getting tattooed, many people assume it’s the tattoo that caused it – either because of the roughness of the tattoo gun or because the skin didn’t react well to the ink.
In fact, it’s got nothing to do with your tattoo at all. It’s a bad shave, not a bad tattoo, that causes ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs can show up after a rough shave (that’s why one common name for them is “razor bumps”). When the razor cuts your body hair too close to the base, that hair can easily curl inward and grow back into the follicle.
Before tattooing any part of your body that contains hair, you or your tattoo artist will first shave it. But tattoo artists are not barbers, so they will not always be able to shave the area perfectly. So, when the hair starts to grow back, you might be left with itchy and irritated bumps instead of the kind of healing you were expecting.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs on a Tattoo
The only way to prevent ingrown hairs from showing up on the area you’re getting tattooed is to use the right shaving technique.
First, you’ll need to use a razor with a new, clean, sharp blade. You’ll then need to apply a generous amount of shaving product, like a shaving gel or shaving cream, before putting the razor to your skin. You should shave with the grain of your hair and go gently enough so that you’re not applying excess pressure on your razor. Then, rinse everything off and apply a moisturizing product.
Since you’re dealing with a freshly tattooed area, you’ll need to be careful with how you treat your ingrown hairs.
The best way to deal with ingrown hairs on your tattoo is to just let them heal on their own. They should clear up within a few days and there is little risk of infection or other complications.
Don’t use any ointments or other topical treatments for ingrown hairs or razor bumps, and avoid scratching, pulling at them, or trying to pluck them with tweezers. All of these can interfere with your healing process far more than the ingrown hairs will.
If you have ingrown hairs, there’s no cause for alarm. They’re not a serious concern and won’t compromise your tattoo, or interfere with the healing process.
Remember that what matters the most is following your aftercare instructions and making sure your tattoo heals properly, not getting rid of these ingrown hairs.