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CBD guides: Can CBD help with tattoo pain?

CBD may be able to help with feelings of anxiety before a tattoo and accelerate the healing process after



Home » Health » Pain » CBD guides: Can CBD help with tattoo pain?

Tattoo pain can be a difficult experience made worse depending on the location of your new art. Could CBD provide some relief before, during or after your ink?

There are many different styles of tattooing. Some such as machine tattoos are an established and popular method but there are others such as stick and poke that are increasing in popularity. It’s impossible to know which type of tattooing is more or less painful as we all process the experience differently.

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However, we can all agree that the first few hours after a tattoo can be pretty painful. Aftercare for any type of art is an essential part of getting a new tattoo. This includes keeping it clean, adding moisturiser and avoiding skin-tight clothing.

CBD in tattoo aftercare is becoming more popular with many brands adding it to their after-care balms and lotions.

Could it help to combat the pain during and after a tattoo?

While there are no studies of CBD directly related to tattooing, there are studies on pain, redness and inflammation that may highlight its effects.


CBD is thought to be a potent anti-inflammatory.

When we get tattooed, our skin has an acute inflammatory response where the skin becomes red, swollen and irritated.  CBD is thought to be a potent anti-inflammatory that works by inhibiting an eicosanoid enzyme called COX2. Aspirin also works by inhibiting the same enzyme. However, some paracetamol or aspirin can thin the blood making you bleed more during tattooing.

In a study on mice, researchers discovered that CBD may protect against inflammation caused by multiple sclerosis.

Another study examined CBD effects for rats with joint inflammation. The researchers found that topical CBD gel reduced the joint swelling in the rodents with no side effects.

This is the reason why CBD is often added to aftercare balms that can be rubbed into the skin gently. It is worth noting that some creams or CBD oils may be an irritant to a new tattoo so always check if it is safe to be used on the area. The anti-inflammatory properties may help to soothe irritation reducing the redness of a new tattoo.

Pain and tattoo: Can CBD help?


Keeping your new tattoo moisturised is essential. It can help to keep the ink under the skin in good condition by encouraging a barrier keeping your tattoo protected. CBD is rich in essential fatty acids, such as omega three and six fatty acids, which protect the skin’s oil barrier and prevent moisture loss.

When applying a lotion or balm to a new tattoo, be careful not to pull away any of the peeling skin as it can interfere with the design as it heals. It can also lead to infection.

Tattoo infections

Studies on CBD show that it may help to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria. CBD may be able to penetrate and kill a wide range of bacteria including Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhoea. It does this by breaking down biofilms which are a build-up of bacteria that help it to survive antibiotic treatments.

A review from 2016 reported the potential antibacterial and antifungal properties of cannabis.

However, it is important that if you notice spreading redness, swelling or pus coming from the tattoo then visit a doctor. These are signs of a tattoo infection that may need antibiotics to clear.


The anticipation before a tattoo can make people feel a bit anxious. There is evidence that our brains can remember the pain as any that lasts more than a few minutes may leave a trace in the nervous system. CBD be may help with the pre-tattoo nerves.

A study on the effects of CBD for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder revealed that it reduced overall anxiety levels. This was measured as an oral dose of 400 mg against a placebo group.

Vitamins A and E

It is worth looking at CBD topicals that contain vitamins A and E.

Vitamin A contains compounds like beta carotene, retinol and retinal which may help to protect the skin from sun damage. Sun-damaged tattoos may experience discolouration, fading and swelling.

Vitamin E, like CBD, is rich in antioxidants. This is an essential nutrient that protects cell membranes. When we are tattooed, the cell membranes are damaged and lose water.


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