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Q. Why did I develop hives after tattoo?

Answered by
Dr. Amolkumar W Diwan
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 11, 2018 and last reviewed on: Sep 25, 2019

Hi doctor,

When I was younger, I was allergic to everything. Now, I have been suffering from the pollen allergy syndrome and fairly bad seasonal allergies. Three months ago, I got my first tattoo. It looks beautiful and healed wonderfully. After getting a tattoo, I noticed seven hives on my legs on the same day, but no hives on the tattoo. Immediately, I thought that I was having an allergic reaction to the ink. So, I took 5 mL of Benadryl and Allegra. I contacted my artist and he gave me the list of ingredients in my ink, which was just carbon pigment, water and witch hazel. Then, I made an appointment with my allergy specialist and he said that the tattoo looked great and I was not allergic to the tattoo itself, but the process. He said that I would most likely get this reaction if I get another tattoo, piercing, or even childbirth. He explained that my immune system just needed time to reset itself. I had a mysterious bout of hives when I was 13 and we could not figure out the reason, but it was around the time I got my ears pierced. So, it made sense and they eventually went away. It has been three months and I am still battling with hives. They freak me out as I have particular anxiety about allergic reactions and would like to know how long it will take for these hives and itchiness to subside. Is it normal to have these hives for three months? I need some reassurance. Thank you.

Dr. Amolkumar W Diwan

Allergy Specialist Pulmonology (Asthma Doctors)


Welcome to

  • Pollen allergy syndrome is a very common manifestation due to allergy to allergens like pollen, raw fruits, vegetables or some tree nuts. The immune system recognizes the pollen as foreign substance and directs an allergic response to it.
  • The symptoms are usually itchy mouth and swelling of lips or hives.
  • As you know that you are having an allergic tendency, you may suffer allergic reactions like hives to anything you are allergic to.
  • It is very common to have hives as an allergic reaction due to some contaminants in tattoo. We cannot definitely point out the cause, but you should take precautions next time.
  • For the time being, you should continue taking tablet Allegra (Fexofenadine) till you do not have any symptoms as we cannot say how long it will take to subside the symptoms.
  • There is no big deal to be anxious about it, but you should be careful next time before doing any procedure.
  • So, just continue the same medicines and do a skin allergy test to find out what are the most common allergens you are allergic to. So, that you can avoid those things next time.

For further information consult an allergy specialist online -->

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