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 and last reviewed on: Apr 05, 2021

Hi doctor,

I am concerned about my tattoo placed before two months back. I have five tattoos with different colors such as blue, yellow, red, green, and purple. I have itching on my yellow and green tattoos from time to time and it lasts for two weeks. It subsides eventually for five to eight days and then itching comes back again. The itchy tattoos are bumpy and hard. What is the cause?



Welcome to

Itchiness and thickening over tattoos indicate a couple of things. As these are occuring over colored pigments, there is a high chance for you to have tattoo granuloma. It means that the colored pigments have caused a foreign body reaction in your skin. If topical steroids like Hydrocortisone did not help, you may require intralesional steroid injection or dermabrasion or laser. Again laser for green and yellow pigments are separate requiring Alexandrite and 532 pico. Secondly, you can have a mycobacterium infection called tuberculous verrucosa cutis which requires oral medication. Lastly, you can have slight chances to have keloid. You need to do a biopsy to rule out the cause. Continue using Hydrocortisone for two weeks and if there is no improvement, you need to do a biopsy.

Thank you doctor,

These hard bumpy tattoos becomes flat when the itching subsides. So I do not think it is keloidal. I got these tattoos on the same day. Yellow and green ones are the last ones to get healed.



Welcome back to

If it becomes flat, then it is not keloidal. You can take a higher level of topical steroids like Mometasone and see for improvement for two weeks. If still recurs, then you need to do a biopsy to rule out the cause.

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