Tattoo Allergy: How Do I Know If I Am Allergic To Tattoo Inks?


What advice can you give before a tattoo about allergies?

Tattoo allergy is rare, but it can happen. We take allergic reactions to inks very seriously at the Black Hat studio, so it’s important for you to give us any history that you may have when you first enquire about a tattoo. Some people are more sensitive to allergies than others. And some people may be getting their first tattoo, so they’re not aware of how sensitive they are to tattoo allergies yet.

But if you are allergic by nature then it’s important to let you know as the first thing we will do is carry out a test in this instance. Hopefully you will be okay – but it’s better to test than dive straight in.


Remember that we are also not medical professionals. If you are particularly sensitive to allergies or concerned about reacting badly to new ink, you should talk to your doctor.  They can advise you more comprehensively on whether it’s okay for you to even get a test.

What technique is there to find out if I am allergic to tattoo inks if any?

For all of you who are allergic by nature, it is important that you let us know so that we can carry out a small test just like a professional allergist would. We will put a little ink on some parts of your body and if you are allergic to these inks then the first signs will show within the next few hours.


A lot of time you’ll find that customers have a reaction to ink that is instantaneous. So you’ll know quickly which inks are likely to give your skin a reaction. And if you don’t react to any, or one or two inks then we can more confidently arrange an appointment for your tattoo session.

What are the symptoms of a tattoo allergy?

The symptoms of a tattoo allergy are red skin, red patches or small pimples that form around the tattoo and can often spread all around the affected area. These can be itchy and sometimes the skin can become thickened or swollen due to an allergy. An allergy to tattoo ink will be similar to all other skin-based allergic reactions, so it won’t be anything to particularly worry about. Usually these symptoms will appear pretty fast after you get the tattoo – within one or two days. But they can also take months or even years later to show.


You can also get these symptoms without necessarily being allergic. A condition called sarcoidosis can appear at any time. It’s also an autoimmune disorder which causes itching and swelling. It’s not caused by tattoo ink, but the problems may appear around your tattoo.

And if you have an existing skin condition like psoriasis or eczema then it’s important to know that a tattoo may cause similar itching and redness to flare up also.

What can I take if I get an allergic reaction to tattoo ink?

Most of the time an over the counter steroid cream like hydrocortisone is sufficient to alleviate the redness or inflammation around your tattoo. You can also take an antihistamine to reduce the itching and any other allergic reaction. Finally, if you are in pain then use a cold compress to help bring down any swelling.

If you have a more serious reaction then you should talk to your doctor.

How long will the allergic reaction last for?

These reactions are typically not serious and your symptoms should dissipate after two or three weeks. However if the problem isn’t going away there may be other causes and you should go to a doctor in this instance.

Is it possible that you can tell me the composition of the tattoo to find out if I am allergic?

Yes of course this is possible. We are always open to giving you the composition of any tattoo inks we use. We recommend that our tattoo artists only use tattoo ink which has the highest standards.  The composition ink most commonly used by tattoos studios are available on most ink providers website such as World Famous Ink, Dynamic Color inks or Radiant.


However, knowing the composition of the ink is not necessarily the best solution because you don’t know whether you will have an allergic reaction during the session, that’s why it’s better to test beforehand because it’s the best solution. An allergic reaction can come from many places, materials and products.

What do you think may be the causes of the allergy?

Allergy is an intolerance of a product on the skin. This can be due to the composition of the product or something else. Sometimes we don’t know why or what we are allergic to. It can be due to the composition of the inks or the cream that allows healing or other.

My tattoo itches, is it an allergy or is it normal after the tattoo?

The healing process takes 1-2 weeks. During this healing process it is expected for the tattoo to become itchy at some points, quite similarly to a sunburn but not more.


If after one week your tattoo continues to itch and is still very red it is possible that it is an allergy. It is not necessarily an allergy to the tattoo but can be an allergy to the healing cream. At this point it is necessary to stop the cream because sometimes it is too aggressive for your skin and we recommend that you see a doctor if the situation is not pleasant for you.

Do I have to go to see a doctor before getting a tattoo?

We do not recommend that you go to see a doctor before a tattoo session but you should do what you think is best. It is important to tell us everything before getting a tattoo. Tell us if you have any intolerances, allergies so that we can take our precautions and so that everything goes well for you.


We recommend medical check-ups when you think there is something wrong after your tattoo session, if there is severe itching, or if you develop patches or pimples. But for us a visit to the doctor beforehand is not necessary if you are not normally allergic or sensitive.

Got more questions about tattoo allergy?

We hope this gives you all the information you need around allergies and tattoos. But If there’s something in particular we haven’t covered, we’ll be more than happy to discuss that with you.