No, it’s not OK to pick a tattoo scab! Ever.
Sorry to the pickers and fiddlers, but while it’s perfectly normal for newly-inked tattoos to scab over and then flake off, it does them no good at all to be picked at, rubbed or scratched.
What’s going on when a tattoo scabs?
The scabs that form after skin is damaged are there for a purpose, protecting a wound from infection, even if it’s a tiny wound such as one made by a fine needle.
The skin protects itself by crusting over the wound with plasma and sending white blood cells to the area to tackle bacteria.
If the scabs come off before healing has taken place underneath you’re risking three things happening - none of which you want!
- Ink loss
Scabs usually start to form at around the three day mark, and start flaking off at about a week, with most gone after ten days. Resist picking, rubbing, scratching or fiddling with them at all, except for very gentle washing and very gentle drying! (This means pouring water onto the tattoos and patting dry with a paper towel, rather than vigorous rubbing.)
For a breakdown of the stages of healing, see our article Tattoo Aftercare: The Healthy Stages Of Healing. For helpful tips during the healing process, read our article How To Stop A New Tattoo Itching.
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If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.