An outstretched arm with a tattoo and eczema.

Eczema and Tattoos: Placement Matters

I got a tattoo in a place I didn’t realize was impacted by my condition. As someone living with eczema, I realize there is never really such a thing as a place on your body “not impacted” by it. It simply doesn’t show for a while, or may not appear as severe as other places on your body. But it’s always around. Or at least that appears to be the case for me.

A spontaneous decision

I decided I wanted the tattoo last minute and on top of the impulsiveness of this decision, I also popped up at a shop just as they were about to close. I had an idea of what I wanted and where I wanted it, but I hadn’t settled on that idea. It wasn’t set in stone. So of course, because the shop was closing, but they offered to stay late for me, I decided to make a rush decision on the placement of the tattoo. Still, again, choosing a place I didn’t realize was impacted by my condition.

Getting a tattoo on my hand

When the artist began, there was nothing out of the ordinary. It was slightly annoying, but not as painful as many people may think. For this one, I decided to go with my hand, just below my thumb. To be clear, I have had issues with my hands before. They become itchy or annoyed and it’s made worse when seasons change or allergies come into play. But in my mind, that’s nothing too severe or serious enough to cause me not to get a tattoo there.

It wasn't an eczema-free area

When the artist finished, it honestly looked good. You would have never known I had anything wrong with my skin. I was too excited and didn’t think anything of it for about a day.

After a few days, I began to realize the placement of this tattoo wouldn’t be as simple as my last. My last tattoo was behind my ear. A place I’d never really had trouble with in the past. From what I could see, it also stayed moisturized by the natural oils in my hair. The placement is so close to my hair, the artist actually had to shave the section before he began working.

The difference in my tattoo placements

The difference between this tattoo and the last was that although this one was much smaller, it was in a place much closer to my eczema “problem areas.” Although I’d never had a full-blown flare in this area, there were still times when it became aggravated. There were still times when it became sore or red. Again, not terrible, but because it’s so close to those “problem areas” it also experiences a significant amount of dryness. It’s currently pretty cold where I live, which naturally causes dry skin on its own. That paired with the natural dry nature of my hands did not make the perfect pair for this tattoo and its healing process.

After the first week, the tattoo was doing much worse than a “normal tattoo.” I realize people experience peeling, but this was a bit extreme. Read on to hear about my healing process.

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