How to Properly Scratch an Itchy Tattoo

How to Properly Scratch an Itchy Tattoo

Is there a ‘right’ way to scratch a new itchy tattoo? 

The simple answer is NO. You should never scratch a brand-new tattoo. Scratching could easily introduce bacteria into the fresh wound leading to an infection. It could also prevent the ink in your new tattoo from properly settling in place.

Scratching could also pull flakes off or even scabs (versus allowing them to fall off naturally), which could cause distortion or even permanent scarring on a beautiful new tattoo.

5 Tips to Prevent Your New Tattoo From Itching

Here are some simple tips anyone can follow to avoid scratching (and potentially turning your newest ‘permanent memory’ into a ‘painful memory’:

1 - Don't Concentrate On The Itch

Listen to Mr. Miyagi. “Breathe”.Most matters of slight discomfort in life are handled with some basic ‘mind over matter’. The same applies if you have an itch on your new tattoo. Keep in mind; we are talking about an itch - Be Strong! Itches are minor, tiny, bothersome pests that

Ignore Itchy Tattoo

fade away as quickly as they appear most of the time if you simply ignore them. But IF your new tattoo is severely enflamed, oozing blood, puss and lord knows what else, and your body temperature is nearing 300 degrees, it’s safe to say you have bypassed ‘itch’ and landed at the ground zero of BADASS INFECTIONS. In which case, stop reading this blog post, get to a hospital, and start making calls to those you love the most (or even leaving a last unpleasant voicemail for someone you really hate, just in case, things to improve for you). So the takeaway here is, when you have an itch, don’t panic. Just breathe dude!

2 - Make Sure Your Tattoo Can Breathe Too!

Take steps to make sure your new tattoo is getting decent air exposure without over-drying it.

Very important - Wear loose, soft clothing!  If your new ink is in an area normally covered by clothing (and let’s use the 99% rule in terms of where ‘most of us’ cover ourselves in public), be sure to wear clothing that is loose, soft and free from any allergens, detergents or chemicals that could cause irritation or even infection. Wearing clothes that are tight or rub against the skin of the new tattoo can cause irritation and even distort or ruin the tattoo.

Also, many items of clothing contain color dyes, which you certainly don’t want touching your new tattoo, which is also an open wound trying to heal itself. The good thing about wearing soft, loose clothing over a new tattoo is that you are protecting your new masterpiece from the sun's especially damaging effects on new tattoos.

Plus, you are shielding your new tattoo from rain, wind, debris and other pollutants. So overall, it is a good thing to wear clothing over a new tattoo while it heals, including while you sleep at night, as long as what you wear is soft, loose-fitting and free of any damaging agents.

3 - Hydrate Your Tattoo Properly

There are many benefits to a good tattoo aftercare product. One of them is hydration. A new healing tattoo, is far less likely to itch if it is properly hydrated versus dried out. Proper tattoo aftercare also has ingredients like babassu oil and vitamin E, which help reduce inflammation and irritation, which also will mean much less itching. Oddly, many people are still fooled into believing that petroleum-based products that did such a wonderful job on your toddler’s diaper rash are, for some reason, meant for tattoos. Having had 4 kids of my own go through diaper rashes and other phases, I promise you the very last product I would use on my brand-new tattoos would be what I used on my kids’ itchy asses. Veeeery different parts of anatomy and science here, Dudes.

I’ve been a tattoo aftercare fanatic for years, and I can tell you the only 2 times I ever had a tattoo get infected was from using petroleum-based products. That’s because they are generally heavy, greasy and tend to have a suffocating effect on new tattoos. All wounds are not created equal. Nor should they be treated equally. A burn on the skin is a wound. A new tattoo punctured your skin thousands of times with a needle is a wound as well.

But the way you would treat each of these very different wounds is…very different. So use smart tattoo aftercare, and you should have fewer worries about itching to begin with.

4 - Keep Your New Tattoo Clean.

Don’t overthink this part. Use a natural soap without fragrance, use lukewarm water, and make sure you pat dry lightly. Do not rub with a towel to dry. Pat lightly to remove excess water and then air dry the rest of the way.

5 - Avoid Swimming Or Unknown Water Sources After A New Tattoo

Don’t even think about going in a pool, hot tub, or the ocean with brand new tattoos. (And yes, that also means no lakes, rivers, ponds, waterparks and slip-in-slides on the front lawn even if it’s a scorcher outside). Unless, that is, if you want your tattoo to itch 10 times the amount it was already itching or possibly even damage to your new tattoo.

Be patient. Your new tattoo will be healed and ready for everyday life quicker than you know it. So be extra careful when it’s brand new and healing, so you have the best tattoo possible with you for the rest of your life.


You should never physically scratch your freshly inked tattoos. Follow the aforementioned steps and tips to prevent tatto itch.

Good luck dudes.

-Drew Plotkin (Chief Dude Officer)


  • Mona on

    Thank you, very interesting & knowledgeable. Why do artists suggest aquaphor as an aftercare treatment, if there is better & what l use instead?

  • Nicholle on

    It’s so hard not to itch them haha but so important not to!

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