Complications after micropigmentation: Allergy

One day you are itching to get your micropigmentation treatment done, the next day you are just itching. The reason is clear: you got allergic, despite a common belief that permanent makeup pigments are totally safe and do not cause adverse reactions. Sometimes people develop an allergy to their permanent makeup after several months of wearing it as it takes time for our body to identify an allergen and take action.

As our body’s immune system is on constant watch for our wellbeing, it sometimes overreacts believing that some substance is harmful to our body while in reality it isn’t. As a result, the immune system produces special substances called IgE antibodies to the allergen. This is followed by a release of certain chemicals, among which is histamine, in our bloodstream. Histamine, in turn, is the real trigger of the well-known symptoms of an allergy, such as runny nose, watery eyes and various skin conditions.


When injecting or implanting a foreign substance in our body, whether it is organic or inorganic, one cannot be certain that no complications will follow overtime. The components of permanent makeup pigments are not easy to identify. Red pigment tends to cause the most allergies, especially the one made of or containing mercury sulfide.

The most widespread adverse reactions are photoallergic dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Both develop red rash, inflammation and sometime make skin flaky and scaly. Flakiness, however, is not always a reason for concern, as peeling of the outer skin layer is a normal and healthy process when old, dead cells exfoliate, and new ones take their place. For example, when permanent lip makeup treatment results in flakiness, it only shows that the body is healing. This process can take up to a couple of weeks and still not be alarming – every body heals in a different way and at a different pace. In many patients after the micropigmentation treatment lips stay excessively dry for a long period of time. This normal consequence requires nothing but regular application of lip balm.

Different areas of the body also heal at a different speed. Thus, lip micropigmentation will result in discomfort that lasts around two weeks, eyelids heal longer, around a three weeks. Eyebrows are the quickest to heal and usually do not give the patient any discomfort.


Other symptoms of an allergic reaction include: cracking, oozing, bleeding, swelling or raised, puffy skin, bumps and blisters. The area may itch, burn, be sensitive or painful to touch. If these symptoms develop in a couple of months and won’t heal yet will only get worse, this is a clear sign that the patient has an allergy. In this case, only a physician and/or a dermatologist can help. It is important that the patient should receive certified help. Many dermatologists, however, confuse an allergic reaction with the process of hypertrophic scarring. Before choosing the treatment it is required to do the necessary tests and examinations, among which is punch biopsy as mistreatment such as use of local steroids, laser or overtattooing with salt water can severely affect the inflamed tissues.

Micropigmentation pigments are not the only reason of allergy. Use of stainless steel needles can also contribute to an allergy as they contain nickel and chromium, but such reactions heal or subside eventually without special treatment.

In many cases, an allergic reaction can be prevented by a simple spot test prior to the micropigmentation procedure. If such a test didn’t take place before the procedure, it should be done right after the first symptoms have appeared in order to possibly rule out an allergy.

 In any case, good quality pictures of the inflamed area should be taken and sent to the manufacturer of the pigment. The manufacturer must be notified of an adverse reaction as soon as possible in order to prevent similar cases in the future.

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