I have worked for a plastic surgeon for almost 30 years and much of this issue could relate to the body site itself, possibly combined with the actual technique used to create the particular design (shading and color, with more vigorous application). Reds are notorious, though there is no agreement on which reds, and what people are sensitive to what pigments, etc. The lower anterior (aka pretibial) leg is the worst spot for healing due to the poor blood flow and the fact that the lower leg is under pressure as we walk and support our weight.
So, if you're contemplating another tattoo I'd wager if it is not located in this area the odds are good that you won't have a similar experience. Considering your good result overall it would not stop me either.