Home Sunburn Can You Tattoo Over a Sunburn: 4 Reasons & Complications

Can You Tattoo Over a Sunburn: 4 Reasons & Complications

4 Reasons & 14 Tips to Avoid Tattooing Over a Sunburn
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You need to take into consideration the risks associated with tattooing on sunburned skin. You may end up with significant skin damage if you ignore these risks. This can ruin the appearance of your tattoo.

Sunburned areas are not recommended for tattooing, and we reserve the right to refuse someone if they think they'll be okay. The skin of a sunburned area is damaged, sore, and uneven. Melanin is produced more in damaged skin.

To help alleviate the discomfort of sunburn, consider using Dr. Numb® numbing cream, which can soothe the skin and reduce pain.

In this blog post, we'll discuss the key factors to consider when deciding whether to tattoo over a sunburn, as well as steps to take if you experience one. We'll also look into how to prevent sunburns on your tattoos and what happens if you ignore them and get a tattoo.

Can You Tattoo Over a Sunburn: 4 Reasons

The 4 best reasons to tattoo over a sunburn

When considering getting a tattoo, the condition of your skin is crucial to the process. Tattooing over sunburn can lead to various complications that not only affect the quality of your tattoo but also your overall health. We will explore 4 critical reasons why you should never tattoo sunburnt skin.

Increased Pain and Discomfort

Getting a tattoo can be a painful experience, but sunburned skin can make it even more excruciating. Here's why:

Sunburned Skin Is Already Irritated And Tender

Sunburn is your skin's way of telling you that it's been damaged by UV rays. It becomes red, swollen, and sensitive to touch. Now, imagine having a tattoo needle repeatedly puncture this already inflamed area.

Skin Burned By Tattoo Needles Is More Sensitive To Pain

The tattooing process involves tiny needles puncturing your skin repeatedly to deposit ink. On sunburned skin, this can be agony. The hands, usually designed to be relatively painless, can become unbearable on already sensitive skin.

Uncomfortable Pain Can Result

Tattooing should be an exciting and memorable experience. However, tattooing over sunburn can turn it into a painful ordeal. The discomfort can take away from the joy and pride that often accompany getting a tattoo.

To avoid this increased pain and discomfort, it's crucial to wait until your sunburn heals entirely before scheduling your tattoo session.

Feel the relief and let your skin rejuvenatess
Don't suffer in silence. Numbing cream is your sunburn's ultimate ally, providing gentle relief and soothing care.

Higher Risk of Infection and Poor Healing

Your skin's health plays a significant role in how well your tattoo heals. Tattooing over sunburned skin can compromise the healing process and put you at risk of infections:

Makes It More Accessible For Germs To Enter The Skin

When your skin is sunburned, it loses its natural protective barrier. This means harmful bacteria and viruses have a much easier time joining your body through the damaged skin.

Infection Risks Are Further Increased By Tattoo Needles

Tattoo needles, even when sanitized, are foreign objects introduced into your skin. If the skin's natural defenses are weakened due to sunburn, the risk of infection rises significantly.

Poor Tattoo Quality Can Result From Poor Healing

The tattooing process relies on your skin's ability to heal correctly. If your skin struggles with sunburn, it may not heal as effectively, leading to fading ink, patchy color, and a generally subpar tattoo outcome.

For your health and the quality of your tattoo, it's best to postpone your tattoo appointment until your sunburn has completely healed.

Potential for Scarring and Damage to the Tattoo

Scarring and damage to tattoos from tattooing over sunburn

Tattooing on sunburned skin increases the chances of permanent damage:

Weak And Damaged Skin Causes Scarring

Sunburn often results in peeling and scarring. If you get a tattoo on already damaged skin, scarring is more likely to occur, reducing its aesthetic appeal.

Fading colors and blurry lines may result from the tattoo:

Tattoos rely on the skin's ability to hold the ink effectively. Sunburned skin can disrupt this process, causing blurry lines and faded colors.

Tattoos May Be Affected By Long-Term Sunburn

Sunburn can result in long-term skin damage, such as premature aging, wrinkles, and a higher risk of skin cancer. These long-term effects can negatively impact the appearance of your tattoo over time.

Complications and Infections

Tattoos involve puncturing the skin, which, when combined with a sunburn, can result in a higher likelihood of infection and other complications.

Infection Risks:

  • Sunburned skin is more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections.
  • Proper aftercare becomes even more crucial when your skin is already compromised.

Allergic Reactions:

  • Some individuals may experience allergic reactions when getting a tattoo on sunburned skin.
  • This can lead to redness, itching, and more severe skin issues.

Delayed Healing:

  • Sunburn can slow down the natural healing process, which might lead to a longer recovery time for your tattoo.
  • Delayed healing can also affect the final look of your tattoo.
Feel the relief and let your skin rejuvenatess
Don't suffer in silence. Numbing cream is your sunburn's ultimate ally, providing gentle relief and soothing care.

Tattoo Over A Sunburn: 14 Prevention Tips

When it comes to preserving the vibrancy and longevity of your tattoos, safeguarding them from sunburn is a top priority. We'll delve into essential measures you can take to prevent sunburn on tattoos, from pre-tattoo precautions to stay protected during outdoor activities.

Tattoo Precautions

Besides protecting your tattoos from sunburns, it's essential to take other precautions before and after getting a tattoo. Below are some helpful tips on how you can ensure that your tattoos remain bright and vibrant.

Before Getting a Tattoo:

  • Choose a tattoo artist who understands the importance of UV protection and uses high-quality ink.
  • Avoid scheduling your appointment during summer when the sunshine is intense since you'll not want to sweat or be exposed to direct sunlight immediately after getting a tattoo.

After Getting a Tattoo:

  • Keep your tattoo clean, moisturized, and covered for the first two weeks after getting inked.
  • Avoid submerging your tattoo underwater until it's fully healed to avoid more radiation exposure.
  • Shield your tattoo from direct sunlight and wait until it's fully healed before exposing it to ultraviolet radiation.

Proper Use of Sunscreen and Avoiding Sun Exposure

One of the best ways to prevent your tattoos from sunburns is to use sunscreen. The problem is that not all sunscreens are created equal, and failure to use them correctly can harm your tattoos.

Below are some tips on how to use sunscreen on tattoos to prevent sunburns:

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen lotion with a minimum of SPF 30.
  • Apply the sunscreen thoroughly and wait at least 20 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours or right after swimming.

Besides using sunscreen, minimizing your exposure to the sun is a crucial aspect of protecting your tattoos. Too much exposure can lead to severe damage to the skin as well as an increased risk of skin cancer. Consider the following tips to minimize your exposure:

  • Limit your time in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its highest.
  • Cover up your tattoos with clothing or use other protective gear, such as an umbrella.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible.

Tips for Protecting Tattoos During Outdoor Activities

The Best Ways to Protect Tattoos Outdoors

If you love outdoor activities such as swimming, biking, or hiking, it's essential to take proper precautions to protect your tattoos. Here are a few tips on how to do so:

  • Wear clothing that covers the tattoo before participating in physical activities.
  • Apply waterproof sunscreen before swimming or other water activities.
  • Wear loose clothing that does not rub against the tattoo and irritates the skin.

What to Do if You Get a Sunburn on a New Tattoo?

Sunburns can be painful and uncomfortable, but when they happen on a new tattoo, the situation can become even more concerning. We will explore the immediate steps you should take when sunburn occurs on a new tattoo, provide tips for promoting healing and preventing further damage, and discuss when it's crucial to seek medical attention.

Immediate Steps for Sunburn on New Tattoos

When you notice that your new tattoo has been sunburned, you must act promptly to minimize damage and discomfort. Here are the steps you should take immediately:

  • Get Out of the Sun: First, you should move into the shade or indoors to prevent further sun exposure.
  • Gently Clean the Area: Use mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water to clean the sunburned area gently. Avoid scrubbing or using hot water, which can worsen the burn and damage the tattoo.
  • Apply a Cold Compress: A cold, damp cloth or compress can help soothe the burning sensation and reduce inflammation. Do not use ice directly on the sunburned area, as it can cause further damage.
  • Hydrate: Keep hydrated to help your body recover from the sunburn. This also aids in keeping your skin moisturized, which is essential for healing.
  • Avoid Tight Clothing: Wear loose, breathable clothing to prevent further irritation of the sunburned tattoo. Tight clothing can rub against sensitive skin and worsen the discomfort.
  • Skip Creams and Lotions: While moisturizing is essential, avoid applying creams or lotions immediately after a sunburn. These products can trap heat and potentially lead to infection. Wait until the sunburn starts to heal before using them.
  • Pain Relief: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen can relieve pain and inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage on the label.
Feel the relief and let your skin rejuvenatess
Don't suffer in silence. Numbing cream is your sunburn's ultimate ally, providing gentle relief and soothing care.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

Sunburns on new tattoos can be severe enough to require medical attention. Here are scenarios when you should seek help from a healthcare professional:

  • Severe Pain and Blistering: If your sunburned tattoo results in severe pain and blistering, it's essential to consult a doctor. These symptoms can indicate a more severe burn that needs medical evaluation.
  • Signs of Infection: In the event of an infection, such as increasing redness, swelling, pus, or fever, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. The consequences of untreated conditions can be severe.
  • Allergic Reactions: If you notice signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, severe itching, or difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical help. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If your sunburned tattoo does not improve or if the pain and discomfort persist for an extended period, consult a healthcare professional. Treatment can be recommended based on the assessment of your condition.


Getting a tattoo over a sunburn is not recommended. The tattoo artist should always prioritize the client's safety and ensure the skin is healthy before proceeding with the tattooing process. Sunburn increases the risk of infection, poor healing, and potential damage to the tattoo and surrounding skin.

It's vital to take preventive measures to avoid sunburn during the healing process by avoiding direct sun exposure and using high-quality sunscreen. It's essential to prioritize the aftercare of your tattoo to ensure it heals properly and stays looking great for years to come.

You should always consult your healthcare professional if you experience any adverse reactions, and always listen to the advice of your tattoo artist to take care of your body and tattoos.

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Matt Callard
I am a passionate traveler, as if traveling were my full-time job. I like to change my surroundings and environment, like changing desktop wallpaper. Nature increases the concentration in my writing, which helps brainstorming flow in my blood. I have a cat named Kitana. She is the most desperate about traveling, more than any other cat. How do I know? If I miss any tour in any week, she literally destroys my clothing with her wolverine nails.

I and my cat also participate in extreme activities like surfing, biking, hill tracking, paragliding, boating, etc. She was always there in my accidents, injuries, and stitches. She always sits on my lap when it hurts me most. The funniest part is that she has experienced all my tattoos. She sleeps on my blanket when I go through any painful experience.

My hobbies and lifestyle added many pain and injuries to my life. That is why I have a lot of experience in dealing with different levels of pain and burn. It influenced me to become a pain expert and share primary suggestions to handle any unwanted situations that hurt.


  • Is It Possible to Ruin an Old Tattoo with One Sunburn?

    You won't need to worry about a wound if the tattoo is old--but you might damage it, which is terrible news. Your tattoo may or may not suffer from a single burn, depending on the severity of the sun damage.

  • When Does Too Much Sun Damage a Tattoo?

    It is advisable to keep tattoos away from direct sunlight for at least a month. This does not guarantee long-term protection. Sun exposure can lead to color fading, emphasizing the importance of shielding your tattoo from the sun whenever feasible.

  • How Should I Get A Tattoo If I Am Sunburned?

    You should let your skin heal up before you tattoo it. The sun damage would have already caused your skin to try to heal. According to Hannah, your skin should be completely healed before getting a tattoo after sunburn, so there shouldn't be blisters, discoloration, or peeling.

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