Why Does My Tattoo Smell? Uncovering the Reasons Behind Unpleasant Tattoo Odors

» Tattoo Tips » Health and Safety Practices » Why Does My Tattoo Smell? Uncovering the Reasons Behind Unpleasant Tattoo Odors

Have you ever noticed an unpleasant smell coming from your tattoo? If so, you may be wondering why does my tattoo smell? There are several possible explanations for this, depending on the type of tattoo, the age of the tattoo, and the aftercare you’ve been taking. In this article, we’ll take a look at why your tattoo may be emitting an odor and how you can prevent it.


Causes of Smelly Tattoo

Causes Of Smelly Tattoo

Poor Hygiene

Tattoos are an open wound, and as such, need to be treated with care and proper hygiene. Poor hygiene can lead to a smelly tattoo, as bacteria can enter the wound and cause an infection. Do tattoos smell when healing? Poor hygiene can certainly cause an unpleasant odor.

Poor Aftercare

Tattoo aftercare is essential to keeping your tattoo looking great and infection-free. If you do not follow the aftercare instructions correctly, your tattoo may become infected, causing it to smell.


An infection can occur if the tattoo is not properly cared for. Symptoms of an infection include redness, swelling, and a foul-smelling odor. If you experience these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.


In some cases, a person may be allergic to the tattoo ink or the needles used to apply the ink. This can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in a smelly tattoo.

Reaction to Tattoo Pigments

Certain tattoo pigments may react differently to the body and can cause an unpleasant smell. This is more common with organic pigments, such as those derived from plants or minerals.

Treatments for Smelly Tattoo

Cleaning the Tattoo

The first step in treating a smelly tattoo is to ensure it is properly cleaned. This can be done using a mild soap and lukewarm water. The water should not be too hot, as this could irritate the skin. Once the area has been washed, it should be patted dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Applying Antibacterial Ointments

Once the tattoo has been cleaned, it is important to prevent infection and avoid any further smell. To do this, an antibacterial ointment should be applied to the area. This will help to protect the tattoo and reduce the chances of it smelling like a wet dog.

Applying Medicated Powders

Medicated powders may also be used to help reduce the smell of the tattoo. The powder should be applied to the area and left for a few minutes before being wiped away. This will help to absorb any excess moisture and reduce the smell of the tattoo.

Applying Moisturizers

In addition to cleaning and using antibacterial ointments and powders, it is also important to keep the tattoo area moisturized. Using a non-watery moisturizer will help to keep the area hydrated and prevent it from smelling like a wet dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Prevent My Tattoo From Smelling?

Keep the area clean and dry: After getting a new tattoo, it is important to keep the area clean and dry. Wash the area with a mild soap and warm water, and then pat dry with a clean towel. Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing over the area and change bandages regularly.

Use an antibacterial cream: Applying an antibacterial cream or lotion can help reduce the risk of infection and keep the area clean.

Avoid sun exposure: Sun exposure can cause the tattoo to fade and may lead to an unpleasant smell.

Avoid swimming and hot tubs: Swimming and hot tubs can introduce bacteria to the area, which can cause infection and a bad smell.

What Should I Do If My Tattoo Still Smells After It Has Healed?

If your tattoo still smells after it has healed, you may need to take further action. First, make sure that it has been properly cleaned and is completely dry. If you think the smell is coming from bacteria, you may need to use an antibacterial ointment or cream to help fight off any infection. If the smell is more of a chemical odor, you may need to switch to a different type of tattoo ink or seek professional help to determine the source of the smell.

What are some common causes of a smelly tattoo?

  • Infection – An infection can occur if the tattoo artist did not use sterile equipment or did not follow proper tattooing procedures. This can cause bacteria to grow in the tattoo and lead to a foul odor.
  • Allergic Reactions – An allergic reaction can cause swelling and itching, resulting in a smelly tattoo. This is usually a result of the ink or some other material used in the tattoo.
  • Excessive Sweating – Excessive sweating can cause a smelly tattoo due to the accumulation of sweat and dirt in the area.
  • Poor Aftercare – If the tattoo is not properly cared for then it can become infected which will result in a foul odor.
  • Lack of Hygiene – Not showering regularly or not cleaning the tattoo area properly can lead to a smelly tattoo.

Is it Normal for My Tattoo to Have a Bad Odor?

Yes, it is normal for your tattoo to have a bad odor. This is because when a tattoo is created, it is being injected with ink deep into the skin. This process can cause an infection or minor damage to the skin, which can cause a bad odor. Additionally, the ink used for tattoos may contain certain chemicals that can contribute to a bad odor. In addition, the area of skin where the tattoo is placed may be naturally prone to developing a bad odor due to its natural oils.

Can I Use a Home Remedy to Remove the Smell From My Tattoo?

Yes, you can use a home remedy to remove the smell from your tattoo. Here are some of the most effective solutions:

  • Use a mild soap solution to clean the tattooed area, followed by a mild lotion.
  • Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the area to disinfect it and reduce the smell.
  • Spray the area with a light mist of white vinegar.
  • Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with two parts water and apply to the area for several minutes.
  • Apply a thin layer of baking soda to the area and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Mix one part aloe vera gel with two parts water and apply to the area for several minutes.
  • Mix one part tea tree oil with three parts water and apply to the area for several minutes.

These solutions can help to reduce the smell of your tattoo and make it more pleasant to be around. However, it is important to keep in mind that these solutions are only temporary and will not completely remove the smell. If the smell persists, it is best to consult with a tattoo artist or doctor.


Tattoos may smell for a variety of reasons, including poor aftercare, the type and quality of ink or dye used, or an infection. It is important to seek medical advice if any of these issues are suspected, as a foul smell can indicate a more serious problem. Proper aftercare such as cleaning and moisturizing the area regularly can help prevent any potential issues.


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