When you get a tattoo, you want to make sure that your artist really knows what he's doing. If he doesn't, you may end up with a scarred tattoo, and scars can last a lifetime.
What causes scarring?
Scarring happens when the tattoo artist overworks or digs in too deep with the needle (one of the reasons why an experienced artist is a must). Sometimes it isn't the artist's fault, however. Scarring can take place on sensitive skin that heals slowly and is more prone to scarring in general.
So scarring can be caused by many things ranging from improper aftercare to sensitive skin. With most people, scarring does not occur, but if the tattoo artist goes too deep with the needle or works the skin too hard, scarring can result.
What does a tattoo scar look like?
Generally, you can't tell it's there unless you touch it. Your fingertips will find raised skin tissue wherever the needle went too deep. Sometimes, if the scar is bad enough, it can distort the tattoo and the ink. I've even seen scarring that makes the darker colors override the lighter colors.
Signs of a Developing Scar
Typically, scarring becomes more noticeable over time. Your skin is healing in the early weeks after a tattoo, when itchiness and redness are normal. After a few weeks, however, these signs may indicate that a scar is developing:
- Raised skin: The main sign of scarring is raised skin. The skin will vary from slightly raised to larger bumps. Typically, the raised skin will be around the outline of the tattoo, but it can also appear anywhere on the tattoo.
- Itchiness: The tattoo site becomes itchy.
Use Aloe Vera to Treat Tattoo Scars
Assuming everything went well with the tattoo and you are healthy, you should not suffer any scarring. But, if you do, aloe vera can minimize the look of a scar. Using aloe directly from a plant gives you the best results.
How to Use Aloe Vera
- First, make sure it is a scar. Scarring under a tattoo can appear as raised skin or delayed healing. For the most part, scarring under a tattoo can be tricky to identify because the ink will distort the skin.
- Purchase an aloe plant. These are typically found at gardening stores and nurseries. You shouldn't need a large plant, but make sure that there are several thick leaves, as you will have to alternate between the leaves, allowing the plant time to regenerate and heal itself.
- Cut off a small piece of a plant. A piece that is about two inches long should be enough.
- Squeeze the aloe onto the tattoo and rub it gently into the scar. Allow the aloe to dry completely.
- Repeat this process a few times a day until your skin is flatter and the scarring has been minimized.
- Be patient. Healing takes several weeks. If you are not satisfied with the amount of scarring minimized during the process, you may consider a doctor or laser resurfacing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why not use bottled aloe vera gel instead of the fresh plant?
The fresh plant is best because the bottled products have added ingredients like alcohol which can cause more damage.
Should I use aloe vera as aftercare?
Always follow your tattooist's aftercare advice. Only use aloe vera on a healed tattoo.
Doesn't aloe vera fade a tattoo?
It is a myth that aloe vera will fade a tattoo, although some people do use it as a carrier for other tattoo-removing ingredients for DIY tattoo removal.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for formal and individualized diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed medical professional. Do not stop or alter your current course of treatment. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Aiesha on October 14, 2019:
If your tattoo pills deep to the white mean would the skin grow back over it properly ?
Noelle on August 07, 2019:
I got my tattoo more than a month a ago. It has bumps and white flakes start appearing if it’s dry (before my bath or if I don’t apply moisturiser)
If you have any advice, it would be amazing.
Amanda on August 30, 2018:
Got tatto 3 weeks ago looked great last week outline has lines in it and certain spot small raised a bit looks cracked in outline to
KD on August 22, 2018:
Hi, a couple days ago I added to an old tattoo I have on my back & I got the old part touched up, but the old part got more swollen than the rest & is risen right now. The tattoo artist said it might be because he went too deep back when I got it. Is it going to stay that way?? & should I use aloe on it or what??
Chanella on December 30, 2017:
My tattoo is a week old but i can notice the scars, isnit okay for me to apply aloe?
Shawn macdonald on December 06, 2017:
So I was getting tattooed today and the artist tried everything to get the ink to go into my skin what can you tell me or what kinda pointers I should try
Kevin on November 11, 2017:
Hey, good day, can i use again the aloe leaf after i used it? And how about the remaining leaf that i cut can i use it also? Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks!
Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 17, 2017:
A&D is a cream or ointment that you can purchase at your local pharmacy or grocery store.
Cazzap on December 29, 2016:
I had a tattoo done at the same studio as i normally go to just a diffrent artist the tattoo os still healing however i have noticed the parts that are heald some places are darket than the others and it lokks faded in parts the woman who done it is the studio owner however i feel like i cant show my arm as it looks awful jer appreciate has done all my others and they have turned out amazingly but not sure what to do theres not much that can be done its there now and lazer treatment is not an opition for me :(
Yolz on August 08, 2016:
What is A&D, my Tatts are over 2 years old, though now they are raised! Grrr
Crystal on April 09, 2016:
I love using aloe when my kids get a sunburn but to use it on a tattoo seems so wrong.
Anthony on February 12, 2016:
Hey I had got a small tattoo in front of my ear on the side burn...but no hair grow there..but anyway I had tattoo over scar tissue and I he went deep. ...what u suggest I use in order to heal it normal aloe? Because it's scar tissue that got tatoo...Unsure
Kylie Miller on January 22, 2016:
I have a tattoo that I got about 2 months ago,I let my brother and law who's not a professional give it to me.im very prone to scarring,and he went way to deep and the entire cross is scarring,I've been putting aloe on it but it just seems like it's getting worse. What do I do? I'm young I don't want my first tattoo to just be one big scar!
Emily on July 30, 2015:
I'm very prone to scarring, I have a small tattoo on my chest, about a year old, and the whole thing is basically a scar. Only a tiny portion of it is not raised. It does get itchy occasionally and i feel it's faded faster than a tattoo normally would but otherwise i don't have complaints about it, really. It's not warped or anything. I've heard people saying that scarring occurs mostly in outlines, and this whole thing is made of thick black lines. I got a second tattoo a few days ago, a different artist this time, i was wondering if there's anything extra i should be doing in the healing process to prevent scarring altogether? I've been treating it by alternating between afterinked and aquaphor, so far theres been little to no scabbing but I figured i'd ask around here
Mariarosa on June 29, 2015:
I've had this tattoo on my arm for years now and I noticed that it is scared pretty bad. I found out after complaining to the owner that the guy who tattooed me was new and I was his first tattoo in years. What's weird though is that the tattoo feels perfectly flat, unless I scratch it and then the entire thing raises and becomes 3D. Almost reminds me of an allergic reaction. Is this normal?
kelley on June 06, 2012:
Aquaphor. Use it for tats, all stages. You don't need any other garbage and nonsense. 1 product and that's it. Why are you all using different products? Just use 1 and stick with it. You should have gotten care sheets when your tattoo was done. If you didn't, don't go back to the artist. They are BY LAW supposed to provide you with it.
captaincrunch on March 13, 2012:
i've had a fairly large tattoo on my back for over a year now. my outlining is bumped up but the shading is perfectly flat. it doesn't itch frequently and the look of the tattoo hasn't been changed by the scarring. it's my first tattoo but i'm kind of afraid to get any more incase they scar worse than this one. Also, i dont think this is really on the topic but my tattoo is shaded in black and white- no color. For longer than a month after getting it my tattoo was red. I actually thought the artist had used red ink, until it finally faded away. could sensitive skin cause the area to stay red for that long?
Habby Tatt on March 13, 2012:
Hi Playboystar1, A bit late but you should not be getting Tattoo'd while pregnant
playboystar1 on February 26, 2012:
hi everyone i just was wondering.......i got a tattoo 3 dayz ago and it has formed a white bubbly look its not red or swallon or anything major just worried bout the bubbling is this ok...im also 18 weekz pregnant could it be an infection
big e on October 26, 2011:
Hi I got a tattoo on my wrest about a year ago and just now it look like a scar but it was never like that it just happen out of nowhere and it look bad what is good for it
KayDee on August 18, 2011:
Hi all! I got a tattoo on my wrist about 4 weeks ago (black and red words) and it seems to be healed (it's no longer sore or itchy and was never "crusty" or scabbed), but it's still raised rather than being flat. Should I give it some more time (weeks? months?) before I start applying Aloe, A&D Ointment or Vitamin E oil to try to smooth it out or can/should I do that now while it's still somewhat "fresh"? I would love to have your input!! Thanks!
big G on August 18, 2011:
Hi. I had 4 tattoo in different bodyparts. All was inked by one artist.
One particular tattoo started having some white bubbly spots and I believe scar or scab like symptoms. I tried the aloe and vandol cream but the skin seemed to be wounded.
Any other remedy you can recommend? apart from having a touch-up after it fully healed.
Thank you much.
inky mom on August 16, 2011:
Vitamin E oil works well with scars.
Justin on July 29, 2011:
Moisturize it. Use a lot of triple a, aloe plant or aloe products without achochol in it, and oil products. It will eventually start removing the scar tissue. You will lose some color on the scar tissue but you can always get it touched up to what the color used to be.
Sue on July 24, 2011:
I got a small tattoo 3 months ago - it seems to have a thick white hard crust on parts of the tattoo. Will this white crusty scab ever go away? What can I do to make it look better? Should I keep it dry or should I moisturize it? Help?
Cora on July 04, 2011:
I recently got a large piece on my back. It's my first tat and I'm stupidly trying to fit it all in within a couple of weeks before I move out of the country. I was wondering if natures aid will help it heal faster, or if it would be the same as the vitamin E I'm using right now. I've used natures aid before for cuts and burns, but not sure how it would react with a fresh tattoo. If anyone else has used natures aid in their healing process I would love to know how it turned out.
AADonnie on May 08, 2011:
I have a tattoo in the center of my back and it's a pretty big piece. It needs touched up bad! But I'm scared to death to get it touched up! It's most definitely scarred! All of its raised, ink bleeds out of the lines, and the center of it is very faded due to at first, it was blue, but once we saw the blood coming through, decided to make it red, so he went instantly right back in and changed the color to red. It of course made the center of the tattoo very mush and took a long time to heal. During the healing process, I didn't care if it got faded or not, just didn't want to get an infection so I was putting neosporine on it. It's been bout 2 years now since I got it done. It's still very itchy and bubbled. When ever I go to scratch it, it is VERY sensitive. If I was to use the A&D technique, will this help with the tenderness also with the scarring? I want to get it fixed by someone professional, but I'm scared to death on how bad its going to hurt.
lace on April 27, 2011:
First tattoo. Some color came off & now it looks like a deep cut. What should I do?
chelsea on April 19, 2011:
ive had scar tissue under my tattoo for a while and i think it looks horrible. ive been using lotion and massaging it so see if it will help any . does that work to?
Kiddo on January 16, 2011:
Hey... I'm covered in tattoos, all of them holding up really beautifully over the years (decades) I've had them. Recently the one I just got on my wrist is pretty scarred, milky still, but the colours are coming through everyday. I am using castor oil (the food/body grade, NOT the stuff you put in cars of course)... it's well known to rid the body of scars, even after years of them being there. Google it. Aloe (as recommended above) is awesome as well, just try to avoid the cheap shite with a bunch of alcohol in it as filler. I use an aloe 'cream' that is just pure aloe with a tiny bit of tea tree, rosemary, vitamin e and witch hazel. (Natures Aid) it works amazing on all tattoos and pretty much any other skin condition for that matter. Worth a whirl.
WorryWart on January 08, 2011:
I recently got a tattoo ... its been about a week and a half ... i had seen his other work on friends and loved it. i have had tattoos done before so im not new to this. However this is the first full color tattoo. anyway a week and a half later and its mostly scarred ... especially the black and red. it doesn't itch, it never started itching (which is what worries me) when should i consider using aloe ... i had to stop using a&d because the ink would run out ... i have never ever had this problem before and i have a back piece and several other smaller tats. this one is on my calf and what little of the scarring that has come off (on its own) has taking some ink with it.
cleighc89 on November 24, 2010:
Hello, im caitlin, i have a question. i want to get a tattoo of two small angel wings, one on each shoulder, but i scar kinda easy, and i was wondering that if i continuously doctored it and put medication on it, if that would help prevent it from scaring, thanx
KayT on November 04, 2010:
I have been working on my back piece, and we did the background on my shoulderblades and just under my neck. The neck part was super painfull, and has scabbed badly. The rest of my tat, including all we did before never did this. What was done on my shoulder blades is healing normally. I have got super sensitive skin, and was wondering if the scabbing is possibily from the artist going to deep on that one section? I did the normal aftercare as I did with the rest of my tat, since the scab has come up been using bio oil & vitamin tissue oil hoping to reduce any damage from the scab, do you think i am doing the right thing?
Money on October 20, 2010:
I got a tattoo on my arm about 3 months ago. The outlines are all raised and puffy. The skin is dry and itchy over it. Is there nay chance this will go down, or will it stay like this forever?
rachel on September 22, 2010:
soo i got a tattoo in january.. almost a yr ago and recently ive realized i have some pretty bad scar tissue. its a small one on my inner wrist so im lucky that not many ppl will see it but every single time i look at it. i see the uneveness and it makes my tat feel so.. unadmirable? haha i decided it would be a good idea to use vitamin e ointment (which is what i was told to put on it when i first got it) vitamin e and aloe are pretty much the same thing... do you think im ok? or is the actual plant more potent?
catwal on August 22, 2010:
I do scar. I had a mole removed on my chest and it was puffy and pink for more than a year. The mark is still there, as a bump, but not pink anymore. Do you think a tattoo would react the same for me? This is a hereditary scarring, as my mother has it and 2 of my sons. I was thinking of getting something small in a hidden place first to see how tattooing affects my skin. Would you recommend any other ideas?
Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 05, 2010:
Hm.. Honestly, I'm not sure. After a year, the tattoo shouldn't hurt. You may want to see a tattoo artist to have it checked out. Is it red or inflammed any?
turbo on April 04, 2010:
its been almost a year
Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 03, 2010:
How long have you had it? How did you, or are you, cleaning it?
turbo on April 02, 2010:
i got a tattoo on my hand and torso...just the outlined is scarred from the artist diggin me...its raised itchy, and if you hit it or scraper it...it hurts like helll...any suggestions on why or what can be done to at least get it to stop hurting?
Whitney (author) from Georgia on March 26, 2010:
It's probably not a scar. Scars are raised, not indented. The indents are in your skin, it's not going to have any effect on the tattoo. If you have it redone, more than likely the indents will still be there.
heather on March 25, 2010:
I have a small tattoo on my foot and there are about 5 small indents around the edges. To me it looks like the artist pushed to hard and it left dents in my skin, even though above it says I would have raised bumps. Are the indents on my foot scares and would I be able to get my foot tattoo redone or will the indents affect the redo?
Sue on March 01, 2010:
I had a tattoo done on my wrist 2 weeks ago. My healing process was very difficult (rash and a lot of oozing and scabbing). Everything has quited down and my healing process seems much better, however, my tattoo still looks milky and the skin over the tattoo is a little shiny and wrinkly. My tattoo is not raised from the surface but the skin underneath (with no ink on it) is a little pink. Is this normal and part of the normal healing process?
chat on February 13, 2010:
emma...i totally in the same boat,but really regretting my tattoo now because in the future i may need back surgery.....so looking in to laser tattoo removal, but so scared on what its going to look like in the end...
Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 28, 2010:
I'm not really sure what you're talking about. It'd be easier to understand with a picture.
A. SIN on January 28, 2010:
I had some work done on my forearm, about a month ago, just an outline, it's all healed fine, with an exception of six dots all near each other. They're exactly as big as the dots on a die. It also appears as if there is a layer of skin over those six dots.
what do you think?
Whitney (author) from Georgia on January 19, 2010:
In my opinion, if it was an allergy, the raised tissues would be all the time, not just throughout the day and be gone at night. I would go to the tattoo artists you used, and have him look at it.
Calvin on January 18, 2010:
I suspect my tattoo has scarred but I'm not sure - here are the facts:
When I wake up in the morning, my skin is pretty much flat - my tattoo is not raised, bumpy, or itchy.
However sometimes at night, or throughout the day, it can get distinctly raised and itchy - i can notice it pretty easily if I touch it.
My question is, some people have told me this is allergy to the ink rather than scarring. Could it still be scarring if it sometimes is not raised at all?
JerkFace on January 13, 2010:
If your tattoo has scars (raised parts) use Mederma, Neopsporin, or A&D. Ive seen a lot of people have success with just consistantly using A&D ointment to reduce the raised parts significantly.
I'm not talking about during the healing process, I'm talking about after it's healed and you know or think it's scared.
Everyone has different skin. I know a black tattoo artist that's been doing it for a long time and predominantly tattooing black people also. I remember when I seen a friend of mines tattoo who is really dark. It looked all scarred, shinny rough snakeskin around all the line work, for a couple months and then it went away. I was shocked. I thought his skin was damaged. I think that's just how really dark skin heals? I've also seen black people with scarred tattoos so...Not sure... but everyone's skin is different.
Most people should not scar from getting a tattoo and that's why you need to go to someone experienced who knows the techniques to get the ink in your skin without going too deep. Ink can also be another factor in tattoo irritations. I've heard from a lot of people their tattoos itch sometimes and have little bumps underneath. Again A&D seems to help when applied consistently for a bit.
You are putting a foreign object into your skin there are side effects but the inks are made in such a way these days (or should be) that they minimize allergic reactions, and don't use toxins, etc. I personally have never had any of this happen to my tattoos so I don't know what the deal is. Hope that helps some.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 16, 2009:
It sounds like the tattoo artist doesn't know what he's doing. If you get another tattoo, find a new artist.
Emma on December 15, 2009:
I have a pretty badly scarred tattoo all the way across my back, I thought it may have been because my skin was that much more sensitive in that area, but I got a tattoo on my arm from the same tattooist and it also scarred. I had a tattoo on my wrist done by a different artist before and it lays perfectly flat.
It gets incredibly itchy in the summer and when I sweat and it's distorted in places and unsightly, it's a shame because the skin on my back was flawless!
Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 04, 2009:
What were your aftercare techniques? When healed, you can get it touched up, but scarring typically won't go away. Is it scarring or fading that you're noticing.
Mederma will more likely fade the tattoo.
Jen on August 04, 2009:
Also, is Mederma an option for tattoo scarring?
jen on August 04, 2009:
I think that my newest tattoo has possible scarring. It may have been the aftercare that sealed the deal. My question is, when can I get it touched up?
xicanoxingon on July 06, 2009:
Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 06, 2009:
I wouldn't suggest it, but it would be best to ask your tattoo artist for the best answer for that question. Actually, it may benefit it, as you would normally use aloe on a wound. But to make sure ask your tattoo artist just to make sure.
xicanoxingon on July 06, 2009:
the scab came off while in the shower and started bleeding. its been 2 days since and the wound healed and the tattoo itself finished peeling. do you think it's ok to put aloe on it already? i want to minimize the scaring. or what else does anyone recommend. thank you.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 05, 2009:
I wouldn't really suggest it.
xicanoxingon on July 05, 2009:
can you put the aloe on the tattoo while you're still in the healing process?
Bully Mama on June 23, 2009:
I have also found that Extra Virgin Olive Oil seems to help at reducing all kids of scars :)
Frank Anok from L Island on April 18, 2009:
very accurate, some tattoos scare me to my nose and i wonder why all these things? what is it for by the way? what impression is one passing on to his children and grandchildren? a weird world we live in....