By Nikita Jeppesen

Tattoo Allergy - Can you be allergic to Tattoo Ink?

Tattoo ink allergy is a fairly rare condition, but it can be a serious problem. If you're having an allergic reaction to your tattoo, you'll need to see a doctor immediately. In this post, we'll talk about what causes tattoo ink allergies and how they're diagnosed and treated.

What causes a tattoo ink allergy?

Tattoo ink allergy is a form of allergic reaction to the ingredients in tattoo ink. Allergic reactions are triggered when your immune system identifies a foreign substance (such as tattoo ink) and releases antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, which normally help protect you from infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. The IgE antibodies then bind to mast cells in your body and make them release histamine or other inflammatory chemicals into your bloodstream. This can result in symptoms such as sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, hives or swelling anywhere on your body where there’s an open wound—including tattoos!

Tattoo ink allergies are most often caused by metal ions such as nickel or cobalt found in some pigments; however it can also occur when other substances like dyes are used or if you’re sensitive to certain preservatives used during production of the pigment itself.

Do allergic reactions to tattoo ink happen often?

Allergic reactions to tattoo ink happen, but they're not common. Red ink is the most likely color to cause an allergic reaction, but any shade of ink can trigger a reaction in some people. People with pre-existing allergies are more likely to have an allergic reaction, as well as those with weak immune systems.

What are the symptoms of a tattoo ink allergy?

Tattoo ink allergy symptoms can present themselves in a variety of ways. Some of the most common include:-

  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blisters that form on your skin's surface (although it's important to note that blisters are not always present)
  • Hives, which are small raised bumps on the surface of your skin

As with any allergic reaction some people may experience more severe symptoms than others. If left untreated these reactions can worsen over time and become life-threatening if they are not treated properly.

How do you test for a tattoo ink allergy?

There are several ways to test for a tattoo ink allergy. Blood tests, skin tests and patch testing are the most common. A challenge test is also possible if you have an allergy to certain metals in your tattoo ink, but these are rare as most artists use non-metallic pigments nowadays.

Can you get rid of a tattoo that's causing an allergic reaction?

Yes you can get rid of a tattoo that's causing an allergic reaction. Laser removal is one option. Your artist may also be able to recommend other treatments, such as topical creams or ointments that help lessen the irritation and itching of your skin. 

The good news about tattoos fading due to an allergic reaction is that once they're gone, they don't come back! So even though removing them isn't always easy, at least there's no need for medication after they've gone away—and no scarring either!

It's not common for people to have allergic reactions to tattoos, but it does happen.

The most common tattoo ink allergies are caused by the following chemicals:-

  • Nickel sulfate
  • Cobalt chloride
  • Chromium sulfate
  • Silver nitrate and sodium bi-carbonate.


So, what should you do if you think you might be allergic to tattoo ink?

If your reaction is mild and it goes away quickly, there’s probably nothing wrong with getting a tattoo anyway. If you have a severe reaction that lasts longer than three days or so and doesn't go away on its own after two weeks (or if it gets worse over time), you should consider seeing an allergist who can test your skin for potential irritants. 


Published: 21/11/2022 | Author: Nikita Jeppesen