How to Treat a Tattoo Infection

Red and painful infection.
Red and painful infection.

Tattoo Infection is Not Hard to Treat

So, you got a tattoo! Whether this is your first, or if you have several, each time you get a new one it's a different experience. A lot of times it will heal just fine with no problems. While other times, you can get an infection.

If it is your first, it can be a little scary if it gets infected. For one, you're not for sure what to expect, and when some of the symptoms start, you don't know if it's part of the normal healing process.

First of all, don't worry. It's not hard to treat a tattoo infection. You want to catch it as soon as possible though. Don't wait until your tattoo is oozing or bubbly.

A really bad infection.
A really bad infection.

Signs and Symptoms

  • The first sign is redness. A little bit around your tattoo that is a light red is normal for the first day. After the first day, most of the redness should be gone and your tattoo should have started scabbing.
  • Along with the red around your tattoo, it will also feel hot when you touch it.
  • If your tattoo gets raised, bubbly looking, bright red, and you feel a shooting or constant pain that feels like it's in your leg itself, these are all signs of a more progressed infection.

Early signs of a tattoo infection.
Early signs of a tattoo infection.


Once you become aware of the fact you have a tattoo infection, it needs to be treated right away.

  1. Get a paper towel and dip it in peroxide.
  2. Squeeze out all the excess and lay it flat onto your tattoo. Leave it there for several minutes.
  3. Repeat several times a day.

That's it, a very easy solution ! If your infection is severe, you should talk to your doctor or go to an emergency room. You may need antibiotics because the infection can get into your blood stream.

Comments 67 comments

princesswithapen profile image

princesswithapen 5 years ago

Gee that's nasty! I wonder if infections happen often?

Useful hub,Deborah.


DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 5 years ago from Italy Author

Thanks, infections don't happen to often but as long as they're caught early on and taken care of it usually not a problem.

Jess 4 years ago

I've been told by many tattoo artists and doctors that using peroxide on new tattoos is a big "no-no". Peroxide uses the tiny bubbles to pull the infection to the surface so it can be killed, but it will pull the ink from your tattoo with it. Also, peroxide drys your skin terribly and can even destroy the top layers of the tattoo on your skin.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 4 years ago from Italy Author

I had a tattoo infection one time and used peroxide as I stated how to above, and it worked and it did not pull up the ink. I still used the A&D so it did not dry out.

Lovely 4 years ago

I Did My Tattoo Myself And It Has Gotten Infested, Your Site Helped A lot! Thanks(:

Boricuabby 4 years ago

Thanks DeborahFantasia your site helped me my tattoo is getting better :)

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 4 years ago from Italy Author

I'm so happy to hear it !

cesar 4 years ago

Thanks for the info it helped out

4 years ago

big thanks ...

Katie Dafoe 4 years ago

I have a tattoo that got infected, thank god, i noticed and went back to the artist for an opinion. Thank god the only reason it got infected was because i used poly after the tattoo was healing, so it made it moist. After it got moist my friends kept touching it. The young man that did my tattoo is going to do a touch up, after that no one except the artist and myself is allowed near it. I am not getting another infection, i learned my lesson the first time

jean 4 years ago

thanks for your advice on the peroxide and wet towel treatment it took the pain and cleaned it up. I also put A and D. thanks again did not want to take antibiotics but was scared.

Nikke84 4 years ago

I cannot find a&d anywhere, what else can i use? I got a tattoo 4 days ago and it is red and swollen and i am pretty sure starting an infection. I have to admit, I used a few different lotions on it and I am pretty sure I caused the infection. So if I do the peroxide, what can i put on instead of a&d.....please help!!

Ashley 4 years ago

Tattoo goo or straight vitamin E oil should help :)

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 4 years ago from Italy Author

Look in the baby section, it is usually by the diaper rash creams. You can find it at department stores, drug stores, even grocery stores. At Dollar Stores, they carry a generic for just a couple bucks. You can ask somebody if they have it, because most places do carry A&D ointment.

elisa 4 years ago

I have my tattoo over a week now which is at the bottom left side of my calf - the scab is off but the tattoo is quite sore and swolen and feels quite hot. Should i take an antiinflamatory?

mrs malone 3 years ago

Well I have had this tattoo since a week ago wed soon to b 2 weeks ago and after 4 days I finally went to er and got antibiotics. I was trying peroxide and it made it worse. I've tried colloidal silver spray a and d ointment tripple antibiotic ointment even a first aid antibiotic cream also alcohol. My right bottom calf inside. Its still red started oozing and everything. Is this healing or what else should I try. Antibiotics are almost done. Need help plz I'm pretty scared.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

I would go back to the ER. You should have no oozing, and the reddness should be well gone after almost two week since you got your tat.

lady34 3 years ago

well I had my tatoo two months ago and it got badly infected to the extend that it has chage to a big sore, i have been taking some treatment,but it just keep coming back. caqn you advise

Schartaylor 3 years ago

I got a tattoo about 3 months ago. I bought a lotion from the artist and used it as I was suppose to. Approx. 1 week after tattoo I got 4 bumps on it. It looks like a big knot of dry skin. I have put everything I can think of on it. What could these bumps be? Anyone have any idea?

Brwecka 3 years ago

I got my 5th tattoo 4 days ago and I'm noticing a little bit of bubbling and what looks like streaks of puss I would say but under a layer of skin that's healing already. I'm so confused, I just tried the peroxide for the first time but do I still do the a&d? If so how often do I do both and do I put the ointment on right after the peroxide? And could I use bacitracin? Please help! I'm getting anxiety over this already!

Scott 3 years ago

I got a tattoo on the inside of fore arm 5 days ago and the is redness around the letters of tattoo it's still sore to touch no bubbling or puss would this be an infection and what do I do please help

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

Call your Dr. or go to the ER.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

Only put A&D once or twice a day in a very thin layer. Your tattoo needs air to heal. I would do the peroxide 3-4 times a day. If it doesn't get better, I would call your Dr. or go to the ER.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

It sounds like the beginning of an infection. Saturate paper towel in peroxide and squeeze out the excess, lay it over your tattoo for a few minutes. Do this 3-4 times a day. Apply A&D ointment twice a day in a very thin layer. If it gets worse, call your Dr. or go to the ER.

laura 3 years ago

Add Your Commenit...i got a tattoo on thursday is a picture of my son that died it turnd out awesom ive use an equate triple antibotic on it it seem to be healing but is still sore so i switched to a&d ointment should that be ok i just want the soreness to go away

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

It can take a couple weeks for the soreness to fully go away. Just keep using the A&D in a thin layer twice a day.

Will 3 years ago

Yea... i got a tat on the outside of my left leg... its not doing good... i was always told that petroleum jelly was good for a tat... but i wasn't told not to glob it on. Now my skin is coming off in some parts of the tat and its red as hell. im trying the peroxide thing right now.

Newtatswollen 3 years ago

I just got a tattoo done on my arm about 7inches above my elbow, and it started with redness around the tat then a little bit of swelling now the swelling is almost past my elbow. I'm freaking ouy now since it's been the 3rd day. Could this be a possible infection?

Aabhash Pradhan 3 years ago

i had my tattoo around 6 mnths ago in my fore arm and i had no problem but now since sround two weeks i m having some rashes or sumthing like bubble is it some kind of infection?????

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

Yes, it sounds like it could be.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

You shouldn't be having a reaction 6 months after getting a tattoo, I would seek medical attention.

beekeeper 3 years ago

I got my first tattoo 8 days ago. I thought it was maybe getting infected on the fourth day, so I went to the doctor. He gave me antibiotics and antibiotic cream. Told me to wash it 3x a day and put the antibiotic cream on after and lotion it the rest of the time. Once an hour or whenever I thought of it. It does not seem to be doing better. The spot where orange was used has a scab and it's gotten really itchy. I'm not sure if it's still infected or if I'm allergic to the ink :( I read where you can have the tattooer tattoo where the offending color is with a plain needle or with saline so that your body can get rid of/push the ink out. Have you heard of this and does it work and is it safe? Thanks for any help :)

how long does it take to heal while treating it with peroxide? 3 years ago

My tattoos turned pink and we're very painful. How many days does it take using the peroxide method to help clear up the symptoms?

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

Part of the healing process of a tattoo is getting a scab, and getting itchy. Putting an antibiotic cream is ok if put really thin for a short period of time, and then you want to wash it off with antibacteria soap. Do not put lotion on it, to heal and not become a breeding ground for bacteria, it needs to breathe. Wash several times a day with the antibacterial soap, and just leave it the rest of the time. No, I've never heard of pushing the ink out as you decribed. The only way to get the ink out of your skin is by getting your tattoo removed.

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

It should only take 2-3 days.

dmccarthy2821 3 years ago

I have an infected tattoo that is now healing, and I was wondering if it was ok to get it covered up once it has healed. I've only had it for nine days.

amandak1234567 3 years ago

Do u suggest washing off any remaining a&d begore using tg e peroxide paper towel?

pooh 3 years ago

i got my tattoo 6 days ago and it got infected..this is my first its scabby and puss ! so i went to a doctor she gave me antibiotics and asked me to clean it 3 times a day with potassium permanganate and apply very thin layer of antibacterial cream does it work and is it safe??

keshia 3 years ago

I got a tattoo about 3 to 4 weeks ago and now it has little fine red bumps on it. It itches really bad and now its puffy. Help what to do

jessica 3 years ago

Hey, I got a tattoo, about 3 days ago,its my forth one. I'm experiencing what seems like an infection, with small blisters. I waited a day and the blisters have turned into hard scabs unlike regular tattoo scabbing. Is this the tattoo healing? Or is it getting worse? Will the peroxise method still work?

Dawn 3 years ago

I have just been to see the out of hours doctor he said my tattoo is infected and he give me antbiotics as it was in pain and red but I am starting to get pains in the back. Of my leg is that anyway connected do you no

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 3 years ago from Italy Author

It could be part of the infection, I would take the antibiotics and see if that help.

jaz 3 years ago

I got my tattoo 6 day ago it all good but theres one spot that is light red and so puss is coming out does that mean I have an infection

jaz 3 years ago

Also it doesn't hurt is a bit itchy but my other tattoo got itchy

Brit 3 years ago

I got a tattoo last night it's red raised up and sore is this ok?? It's my first tattoo I'm scared

Jessica 3 years ago

I just got a tattoo on my wrist an it is puffy an sore what can I do i did what u said an it looks white a puffy an nasty

mandy 3 years ago

I had a tattoo about 2 mths ago on my wrist everything was fine no problems now it feels like its prickley and its tingley what can that be

esjay 3 years ago

For my tattoo 4 days ago but started puttin ointment today since I noticed some bumps that hurt but no puss comes out? What could it be?

Dev 3 years ago

I got a new tattoo 5 days ago and today there was many white pimples surrounding a portion of the tattoo. There is no Redness around the actual tattoo besides the pimples. Could this possibly be because of the shaving? Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.

Stephanie 2 years ago

my girlfriend and I got some tattoos at a guys house over a month ago. Mine has a few scabbed red bumps on each still and hers is completely bumpy and dry scabs all over, her ink also is not black like it should be. About a week ago, on the same day, we both started complaining about out underarms being sore and now both of us have been in constant pain. We both have a swollen knot in our underarms...I am assuming it is our lymph nodes. What should we do, we are getting scared!

foster 2 years ago

I got a hand tat about 3 days ago. Its about 2 inch above my wrist to my knuckles. I'm not sure if ots infected or if dude was just to rough or hand tats get red and sore alittle longer. Bub its red and only my hand to my knuckles ans swollen but it hurts like a bitch. And don't want it fucking up because it is a very nice looking tat. Its my 7 th tat nexter had this problem. Oh yea hurts more pointing down

felicia 2 years ago

How long after the peroxide treatment will the infection go away and i just have small bumps that itch like crazy through out my tattoo

James 2 years ago

Got a tattoo on my forearm about 2 days ago and it looks good but it's red around the tat and a little tender. Not sure if it's infected our what just don't know if it's normal healing soreness or redness

gerry 2 years ago

I got a tattoo like 3months ago an I have lil Red bumps around my tattoo on my forearm my doctors said I DNT have hep c an it won't go away WHAT'S can I use help me

dulceteller 21 months ago

I got my tattoo last Tuesday and I been trying my best to keep it Clean but now half of my tattoo has bumps on it even on the actual tattoo and around it o been using lubriderm on it and it dosent seem to get better this was my first tattoo what do I do I'm scared should I go to the ER

Lisa 21 months ago

my tattoo I got about 8 months ago puffed up about 2 months ago only on the red and hurts if i rub or touch it how do i fix this

vic 20 months ago

Got a tattoo a year ago I thought it

Would go down it hasn't Im scared its red ink helpp

David 18 months ago

I just caught my infection yesterday, barely starting. I washed off the entire tattoo with dial non scented soap then let dry out and put A&D on it. I put it on about 3 times yesterday line layering. I did wash off the tattoo this morning and put more A&D on it, but it seems to be getting worse.

Should I try washing it off again letting it dry and doing the peroxide and then adding the A&D?

jimbo 16 months ago

I got a tatto three days ago its still sore swollen n ive got a lot of little white heads all over tha tatoo n its very hot do u think its an infection?

jerry 6 months ago

Just got a tattoo 5 days ago started with the Aquaphor for two days then switch to the Lubriderm lotion not experiencing pain redness or swelling that went away but today while getting in the shower some of the scabs had a little bit of pus in them am I using too much lotion about 3 times a day maybe for I just did your peroxide trick and I'm not letting it air-dry should I put anything on it

jerry 6 months ago

I am letting it air dry sorry.. Should i put anything on it or just keep it dry

randy khalaf 6 months ago

Proper cleaning treatment after getting a new tattoo and being cautious in everyday activities can prevent infection and other complications, get tats from someone clean and experienced, just because someone bought a tat machine online donsnt make them a professional, be weary and cautious and pay attention to everything the artist does, cleanliness is key

Gabi 5 months ago

Hi I got my tattoo done on Friday. I've just noticed some green lumps and when I put my fisted down they leak does this mean I've got an infection ? If so what should I do xx

Gemma 3 months ago

So I got a massive tattoo on my thigh 3 days ago. This is my 33rd tattoo and I've taken care of them all the same way. I noticed that when I wrapped the tattoo back up (so it didn't stick to my clothes) it would seep through the cling film/tape and onto my leggings. I would clean it, make sure it was dry and then literally a minute later it would be weeping again. Also it was difficult to walk and very painful and swollen. The night after I got the tattoo I was very shaky with a fever and barely got any sleep due to the pain from the tattoo. Got antibiotics at the Drs for it. I'm concerned how the tattoo is going to turn out, it cost me £400 and is the only tattoo I've gotten that has done this! I'm so confused though as the only thing I could've done wrong was wrap it in cling film, making it moist enough for bacteria to grow. However I've wrapped all my other tattoos this way.

Oscar 2 months ago

I got tatto. 4 days ago. Over vericose vain. And i think. got infected. Hurts. every. Time when. I walk.

Kristina 3 weeks ago

When does the tattoo start to itch?

DeborahFantasia profile image

DeborahFantasia 34 hours ago from Italy Author

About a week.

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