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My New Tattoo Is Swollen, Red and Bruised—Is This Normal?

When you get a new tattoo, it’s normal for the area to be red and possibly bruised. This reaction happens because the tattoo needle and ink pierce the skin and go into the deeper layers. When something foreign enters your skin, your body reacts by treating it as a wound and starts its healing process. This can cause swelling and bruising in the tattooed area.

In short, these signs are part of your body’s natural response to the tattooing process. Just make sure to follow any aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist to promote proper healing. If the redness or bruising worsens or you experience severe pain, consult a healthcare professional for advice.

Why Is The Swelling There

When you get a new tattoo, it’s similar to an injury to your skin, and your immune system recognizes it as such. As a result, the blood vessels in the affected area react, and a clot may form, leading to a bruise around the tattoo.

While this is happening, your body sends white blood cells and other natural chemicals to the tattooed area. These cells help fight off any bacteria or viruses that might try to enter through the incision made by the needle. This is a normal part of your body’s healing process, ensuring the area remains safe and starts to recover properly.

Swelling And Bruising With Tattoos

Swelling is a normal reaction to a new tattoo and varies depending on the tattoo’s location. Areas with more blood flow or flesh, like the underarm, inner thigh, neck, hands, or feet, may swell more. Any part of the body can experience some swelling or bruising. Follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions for proper healing.

Blood Thinners And Skin Numbing Creams

If you’re planning to get a tattoo, avoid taking any blood thinners such as coffee, aspirin, alcohol, or certain medications before, during, and after the procedure. Blood thinners can cause excessive swelling. It’s important to choose a local tattoo shop with a good reputation to ensure quality service and proper care if any issues arise.


If you need a painkiller while getting a tattoo, use ibuprofen or panadol. Follow the instructions on the package exactly. Always consult your healthcare provider before taking any painkillers.

Skin Numbing

Numbing creams for the skin can worsen the situation. They restrict blood flow upon application, affecting the body’s nervous system. This sensitivity can lead to increased swelling and hinder the body’s healing process.

Skin Numbing

Skin Sensitivity

Skin sensitivity can make a person more prone to bruising and swelling. Medical reasons or blood conditions can also cause the skin to swell and bruise more easily.

Minimizing Bruising And Swelling

After getting a tattoo, there are simple ways to minimize swelling or bruising. You can use a cool washcloth or a wrapped package of frozen vegetables, but avoid direct contact with the tattoo. Wrap the cooling device in a soft, absorbent cloth and apply it to the area for about 30 minutes. This helps reduce blood flow to the tattoo, easing pain and inflammation, and speeding up healing.

Elevate The Area

To help reduce swelling around a tattoo, you can try elevating the area. If possible, keep the tattooed part of your body raised above your heart for at least 24 hours. This can help ease the swelling. Lying down may also be beneficial. If the tattoo is on a part of your body below the heart, it could bruise and swell more due to the blood flow to that area.

Hot And Cold Compresses

After 48 hours, you can use a warm washcloth on the tattooed area to improve blood circulation and aid healing. Apply the warm cloth for 10-15 minutes several times a day. Alternate between warm and cold cloth placements to help with the healing process. Make sure the washcloth is clean and sanitary each time you use it to avoid infection. After applying the compresses, clean the area thoroughly to maintain hygiene.

Stages Of Healing

After getting a tattoo, any bruising and swelling should decrease within a week to a month. This depends on how much your skin was irritated during the tattoo process and the location of the tattoo. As your skin heals, the bruise may change color from blue to purple, then fade to yellow-green. Eventually, your skin should return to its normal color. Swelling should also decrease as the bruise fades, and any excess fluids should drain away naturally.

As your tattoo heals, you may experience itchiness. Within a few days to two weeks, the tattooed area may start to peel and become itchy. A scab might form during this time, and it’s important to let it fall off on its own. Avoid scratching the area to prevent damage to the tattoo and potential infection. Let the skin heal naturally for the best results.

Healthy Food Reminders

To speed up the recovery process and minimize bruising and swelling after getting a tattoo, you can eat foods that promote healing. Garlic and onions are known to aid in the healing process. Additionally, consume Vitamin C either in supplement form or from foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin C helps repair tissues and accelerates the healing process. Eating these foods can contribute to a smoother recovery.

Possible Signs Of Infection

If you experience severe pain, fever, or the oozing of green or white substances along with foul smells around your tattoo, it may be a sign of an infection. Additionally, if there is significant swelling that restricts movement or causes intense pain beyond the tattooed area, you should seek medical attention immediately. An infection can lead to the tattoo ink leaking from your skin, causing the tattoo to appear faded or damaged. It’s important to see a health care professional right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

If you do suspect an infection, you’ll want to watch for the following symptoms:

• Pain worsens instead of going away
• Fever, chills, and shivering
• Rash appears with the tattoo area
• Pus appears in the tattoo
• Sores appear in the tattoo
• Redness gets darker and spreads within the tattoo

If you suspect your tattoo is infected, seek medical attention immediately. A health care provider may prescribe antibiotics or steroids. Any reputable Philadelphia tattoo shop can refer you to a medical professional for treatment. Prompt care is essential to prevent further complications.


Yes, it’s normal for a tattoo to swell and bruise for a few days after getting it. If it doesn’t improve or worsens, see a medical professional.

Yes, redness and bruising are normal after getting a tattoo and should improve within a few days. If the symptoms persist or worsen, consult a medical professional.

A new tattoo can be red and swollen for a few days up to a week. If the redness and swelling persist or worsen, consult a medical professional.

Your tattoo may hurt like a bruise due to skin trauma from the tattooing process. The pain should subside in a few days. If it persists or worsens, seek medical attention.

An infected tattoo may have severe pain, fever, oozing pus, or foul smells. Bruised tattoos are usually just swollen and discolored. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention.

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