Avoid soaking the tattoo. Until your tattoo is fully healed, you should avoid swimming in a pool, in the sea, or even soaking in the bathtub. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, exposing your tattoo to too much water may draw ink out of your skin and damage the tattoos appearance. Secondly, the water in swimming pools, the sea and the bathtub may be carrying dirt, bacteria, chemicals and other impurities that could cause your tattoo to become infected
Do not expose your new tattoo to direct sunlight. Sunlight is the worst enemy of new tattoos. The harsh rays of the sun may cause your skin to blister and bleach some of the color from your tattoo. For this reason, it is best to keep your tattoo covered and away from the sun for at least 3 to 4 weeks, until the initial healing is complete.
Do not scratch or pick at your tattoo. As it heals, your tattoo will begin to scab. This is normal, and the scabs should be allowed to dry out and fall off by themselves. Do not try to help the process along by picking at the scabs. This may cause the scabs to fall off prematurely, leaving holes or light spots on your tattoo.
Avoid tight-fitting clothes. Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing on the area with your new tattoo, especially at first. As your tattoo heals, it will seep plasma and excess ink, which may cause the clothing to stick to the tattoo. The clothing will then be painful to remove and may rip off any freshly formed scabs.
Avoid working out. Tattoos covering large surface areas, or those that are near joints (such as elbows and knees), may take longer to heal if the skin is forced to move around too much during intense workouts or other physical activity. The movement will cause the skin to crack and become irritated, prolonging the tattoos healing process. For this reason, you should avoid unnecessary workouts for at least a few days after getting a new tattoo.
Continue to wash and moisturize your tattoo 3 to 5 times a day. You should continue to wash your tattoo with anti-bacterial soap and warm water until it is fully healed. This can take anywhere from 3 to 6 six weeks, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. You should wash the tattoo approximately three times a day, though you should wash more often if the tattoo is on your hand, wrist, foot, or any other area which is more exposed to germs.
After applying special anti-bacterial ointment for the first 3 to 5 days, you can switch to regular lotion after each wash. Most tattoo artists will recommend that you avoid using lotions that are scented, colored or contain glitter. Remember to only apply a light layer of lotion, as over-moisturizing can negatively affect the tattoo.
The initial healing of the tattoo will take up to two weeks. During this time, you can expect the tattoo to start peeling or flaking, in a similar way to sunburn. Some colored skin may come away as the tattoo peels, but this is completely normal.
After the skin peels, your tattoo will look glassy and feel tight. It may also have cloudy or white patches of skin that you will be tempted to peel off, but try to resist. This is referred to as “onion skin” and will fall off by itself within a couple of weeks.
If you have taken proper care of your new tattoo, you can expect your tattoo to be healed and your skin to have fully regenerated in about 4 to 6 weeks.
Once your tattoo is fully dry and the skin begins to feel tight you can apply a little ointment, such as Bacitracin or A&D, to the tattoo. Make sure to apply only a very thin layer that’s just enough to make the tattoo shine and rub it in gently until it’s absorbed by the skin. It’s very important that you don’t apply too much ointment or else you’ll suffocate the tattoo and encourage the growth of bacteria.
- You should continue applying the ointment after each time you wash the tattoo for about 3 to 5 days, or until the tattoo starts to peel. At that point, you can switch to a regular, fragrance-free lotion.
- Don’t use petroleum based products, such as Vaseline, as these are too heavy and may clog the pores, causing breakouts on the tattoo. They also draw the ink from the tattoo to the surface of the skin, causing the tattoo to fade before it’s even fully healed.
- There are some great specialist products on the market that are a little pricey, but work wonders for healing tattoos. Once such product is called “Tattoo Goo” which is non-greasy and is made from natural ingredients. Another great product is “H2Ocean”, which is a foam rather than an ointment, that uses a salt concentration to prevent infection. “After Inked
Once you have thoroughly washed the tattoo, you should gently pat it dry with a little paper towel. Do not rub the tattoo, as this may cause irritation. Once the excess moisture has been removed, you should leave the tattoo uncovered for 20 minutes to an hour. This will allow the tattoo to breath and any excess moisture to evaporate.
You should allow your tattoo to breathe like this after each time you wash it or get it wet.
Once the tattoo is complete, your tattoo artist will clean the area, apply an anti-bacterial ointment and cover the tattoo with a bandage or some dressing. Once you have left the tattoo parlor, try to resist the temptation to open the bandage to take a peak or show off your new tattoo to your friends. The bandage is there to protect your tattoo from airborne bacteria, which can penetrate through your broken skin. The bandage should be left on for a minimum of two hours before you remove it.
I recommend lukewarm water and mild, unscented liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap. Use your hands to gently rub the tattoo, removing all traces of blood, plasma, or leaked ink. This will help to prevent the tattoo from scabbing too soon.
- Do not use a wash cloth, loofah or any type of sponge to clean the tattoo, as these may harbor bacteria.
- Do not hold the tattoo directly under the water. Wash it indirectly by splashing the water over the tattoo with your hands. The stream of water from the faucet may be too harsh on your new tattoo.
- If your new tattoo is covering a large area of skin, it may be easiest to wash the tattoo in the shower.