What Happens if You Draw on Your Skin With Pen?

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

What Happens if You Draw on Your Skin With Pen

Do you like to draw on yourself with markers or pens? While it might seem harmless, this seemingly innocent activity has potential effects and risks to our skin due to the chemicals in the ink formula, including ammonia, formaldehyde, and more.

So, what happens if you draw on your skin with pens? For sensitive skin, the reaction could be irritation and redness. Long-term and constant exposure might lead to certain health issues. So, read on to learn about safety precautions and alternatives.

Pen Ink Composition – Is Pen Ink Bad for Your Skin?


Pen ink is not formulated for direct contact with the skin. It contains a mixture of chemicals, enabling the ink to flow smoothly on paper. These ingredients are chosen for their effectiveness on paper surfaces, but they might not be skin-friendly.

Short-term & Long-term Effects When You Write on Your Skin With Pens


When you draw on your skin with a pen, you expose yourself to potential short-term and long-term effects that can impact your skin condition.

1. Short-Term Effects


Alcohol, formaldehyde, and ammonia in ink might lead to skin irritation, redness, itching, or discomfort in the areas where you have applied the pen ink.

Permanent pen inks that contain ethyl glycol, Xylene, or phenol can also lead to allergic reactions, including scaly and itchy feelings.

These skin reactions are your body’s way of responding to a foreign substance, so if you notice any signs of redness after you write on your hand with pen, clean it right away.

2. Long-Term Effects


Prolonged exposure to the chemicals in the ink might cause damage to the skin’s natural barrier function. This could result in further dryness, flakiness, or skin discoloration in the affected areas.

So, can you get cancer from drawing on your skin with pen?

While the risk of developing skin cancer solely from drawing on your skin with pen ink is very low, there is also a possibility that the presence of certain chemicals could contribute to skin damage over time.

Safety Precautions & Alternatives

To protect your skin’s health, it is recommended to avoid drawing on your skin with pen ink altogether. If you still want to express your creativity on your skin, keep the following in mind.

1. Safety Precautions


  1. Avoid Open Wounds: Refrain from drawing on areas with cuts, scratches, or other open wounds. Applying ink to broken skin can increase the risk of infection.
  2. Practice Moderation: If you draw on your skin, do so in moderation. Frequent or excessive drawing might increase the likelihood of skin irritation.
  3. Cleanse Afterward: Once done drawing, gently cleanse the area with mild soap and water to remove the ink residue and minimize potential skin reactions.

2. Safer Alternatives


  1. Non-Toxic Body Markers: Opt for non-toxic body markers specifically formulated for skin contact. These markers are designed to be safer and gentler on the skin, reducing the risk of irritation.
  2. Henna: Natural henna paste, made from the henna plant, can be used to create intricate designs on the skin. It is temporary and often used for festive occasions.
  3. Body Paint: Body paint that is labeled as safe for skin use can be a fun and creative alternative to pen ink. Just ensure that the paint is non-toxic and meant for skin contact.

Can You Die From Ink Poisoning?


It is highly unlikely to die from ink poisoning from pen inks. The ink absorbed through the skin is minimal, and most pen inks are not highly toxic.

However, ingesting a substantial amount of ink or having prolonged exposure to large quantities of certain types of ink might lead to more severe symptoms.

So monitor closely as your kids play with pens and markers.

Can Pen Ink Go Into Your Bloodstream?


Yes, pen ink can enter your bloodstream, especially if you have a cut or an open wound on your skin where the ink is applied.

However, the amount of ink that would enter the bloodstream through this route is typically minimal and not likely to cause significant harm.


Recapping this blog post on “What happens if you draw on your skin with pens?” Drawing on your skin with pen ink might be a tempting form of self-expression. Still, it is crucial to recognize the associated risks and effects.

To ensure the well-being of your skin, it is best to opt for safer alternatives like non-toxic body markers. Prioritize your skin’s health.

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