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Q. Some of my yellow and green tattoos are itchy, bumpy, and hard. What should I do?

Answered by
Dr. Suvina Attavar
and medically reviewed by Dr. Sneha Kannan
This is a premium question & answer published on Apr 21, 2020

Good day doctors. I have a concern with my tattoo that I got 2 months back. I have five tattoos with different colors (blue, yellow, red, green and purple). I've been experiencing itching on my yellow and green tattoos from time to time, that lasts for about 2 weeks. It subsides eventually for 5 -8 days then itching comes back again. The itching tattoos are bumpy and hard. What should I do? Thank you.

Dr. Suvina Attavar

Dermatology Venereology
# hi, welcome to icliniq

Itchiness and thickening over the tattoos could indicate a couple of things.
Firstly since these are occurring over the coloured pigments there is a high chance that you have developed a tattoo granuloma , which means the coloured pigments have caused a foreign body reaction in your skin, if topical steroids like hydrocortisone doesnt help intralesional steroid injection/dermabrasion/laser might be needed. Again laser for green and yellow pigments are separate requiring alexandrite and 532pico respectively.
Secondly there could be a mycobacterium infection called tuberculous verrucosa cutis which requires oral medications.
Lastly there is a slight chance that it has become keloidal.
In any case, a biopsy is needed to confirm what exactly has caused this and treated according to the report.
My advice continue the hydrocortisone for 2 weeks and if it doesnt improve, get a biopsy done.

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Hi doctor,
The hard bumpy tattoos flattens also once the itching subsides, so I think it's not keloidal. I got these tattoos on the same day and the yellow and green ones are the last to heal.

Dr. Suvina Attavar

Dermatology Venereology
# if it flattens then its not keloidal.
You can shift to a higher level topical steroid like mometasone and see for 2weeks.
If it still recurs the other differentials need to be ruled out by a biopsy.

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