HEY! Congratulations on your new tattoo. Finally, you got the tattoo that you always wanted. Now, here comes the difficult part, taking care of the tattoo. If it is not done right, it can destroy or skew a well-designed expensive tattoo. Not only because touch-ups can be expensive, but also because you have to take care of the tattoo to make sure that you don’t get a skin infection or something unpleasant. A proper tattoo aftercare routine can protect your tattoo from many complications. After getting a new tattoo, your tattoo artist may provide you some instructions about tattoo aftercare which you have to do from the day after getting the tattoo or you can just follow these steps while your new tattoo heals. Because here I’m going to discuss in detail “What to do after getting a tattoo?”
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1. DON’T REMOVE THE COVERING TOO SOON FOR THE NEW INK
When the tattoo is done, your artist will clean the area and apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment over the area. Then he would cover the area in a bandage or plastic wrap. This process is used, to protect the ink from dirt and prevent bacteria from getting into your skin. The majority of advice will tell you to leave the covering on the tattoo for the first 2-3 hours (depending on the size and type of your ink).
Different artists have different techniques for covering new tattoos. Some artists recommend that rewrap the area for the first night and also some artists may not cover the tattoo at all, it depends on the products or methods they use to do with their tattoo. So, I suggest you ask your tattoo artist for specifics about how long to wait to remove the covering.
2. WASH YOUR HANDS THEN GENTLY WASH THE TATTOO
First, wash your hands with any mild anti-microbial soap and clean water. Pull the covering off slowly and carefully hence you don’t damage your new tattoo. Then gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water (it helps to prevent the bandage from sticking to your skin) and fragrance-free soap or anti-microbial soap. Don’t hurry, be gentle, and don’t scrub when washing the tattoo, and be sure to pat your skin dry. Try to use those products whose ingredients are meant for tattoos, such as Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap, Carex, etc.
3. APPLY MOISTURIZER
After washing the tattoo, you should apply a thin layer of non-scented, antimicrobial, and alcohol-free moisturizer to the tattoo. Some tattoo artists recommend Tattoo Goo lotion and Salve for healing tattoos because these products contain the same natural components lost by the skin during the tattooing process.
4. AVOID DIRECT SUNLIGHT
Keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight until it’s necessary. Make sure you’re using good sunscreen whenever you go outside during the day. Because UV rays may cause your skin to blister, irritate, and fade some of the colors from your colored tattoo. So, it’s best to keep the tattoo covered and away from the direct sunlight for at least 2-4 weeks until the basic healing is complete.
You should continue these four steps until the tattoo fully healed. Normally it can take 2-5 weeks to heal, depending on the size, type, and location of the tattoo. But many tattoo artists also think that it may maybe possible to reduce the healing time if the tattoo is properly cared for. Anyway, no matter how long it takes to heal, now you will have to wait until the tattoo heals completely.
Let’s talk about TATTOO’s HEALING PROCESS. The entire healing process can take several months but the initial healing usually takes a couple of weeks. And it’s different for every person, size, and design of the tattoo.
TATTOO HEALING STAGES FOR NEW TATTOO
Day 1 (Inflammation, Oozing, and redness)
This is the first stage of tattoo healing. It may last from day 1 to day 6. In this stage, your body will be responding to injury and there also may be redness, oozing, small inflammation or swelling, and a burning sensation. You can also notice that a small amount of fluid or ink coming from your tattoo or the skin around the tattoo is very red and tender. Don’t worry, it’s normal for a new tattoo and it’s called “weeping”. This condition will last for a week and symptoms should improve significantly each day but if the redness and oozing don’t subside after a week then you should consult with your tattoo artist or physician who is an expert in this matter.
Week-1(Itching, flaking, and visible recovery)
As the healing process continues, you may experience itching and flaking in this stage. Itching is not uncommon for a wound when it heals whereas a tattoo is essentially a wound. On the other hand, Flaky skin is also nothing to be concerned about, it’s a natural response of the body.
Week-2(peeling and scabbing)
In this stage of healing, the tattoo will probably begin to peel. However, this is not a cause for concern because peeling is a very normal part of the healing process, as the skin rids itself with damaged cells. Also, this time, as the skin is healing people may notice some scabbing. It’s okay!
This is a normal recovery process of the body. Don’t try to pick the scabs, as this can lead to scarring. It may also become very itchy. But you should try to resist the urge of scratching or picking at scabs. It is said that an ice pack can help to numb the itch, so you can try this. Put an ice pack over the tattooed area to numb the itch. If this itchy feeling makes you feel more uncomfortable then you can consult with your tattoo artist. He may recommend you a hydrating lotion or moisturizer which can keep the tattoo hydrated and may cause itching. If this itchiness gets unbearable for you then ask your doctor about taking an OTC (over-the-counter) “Antihistamine”.
Week 3 & 4(Last basic stage of healing)
In the third and fourth weeks, most of the scabs and peeling skin should have gone, a tattoo may begin to dry out and the itchiness should pass. The artists suggest that continue to moisturize the skin to hydrate it if it feels dry. The outer layers of your skin should have healed entirely, as they are regenerated but the lower layers of the skin may take several months to heal completely.
It’s not always the case that the tattoo will heal properly without any hassle. Occasionally, some problems may be seen during healing. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms that the tattoo isn’t healing properly or it becomes infected. If the tattoo isn’t properly healing then it may show some signs. For example—
Sign-Symptoms of improper healing
- Fever or chills. Fever or chills 102°F (38.9°C or more) is a sign of infection. If your tattoo is infected then your fever will be present and you should consult with a doctor.
- Tenderness. Tenderness may present if the tattoo becomes infected.
- Redness. Redness is normal for the first few days of tattooing. But if the redness doesn’t subside, it’s a sign that the tattoo isn’t healing properly.
- Itching or hives. Itchy tattoos are also a sign that there is an allergic reaction in your body.
- Fluid or pus coming out of the tattooed area. Fluid and pus may be coming from the tattoo after 2 – 3 days if the tattoo is infected.
- Scarring. A scab is normal for any wound, but a well-healed tattoo shouldn’t scar.
- The skin may be swollen and puffy.
- Red lesions and streaking around the tattooed area.
Influencing factors that may affect the healing process
- Poor tattoo hygiene: Improper tattoo hygiene can cause infection which slows down the healing process and can lead to various health issues.
- Poor tattoo techniques: Poor tattoo techniques can cause additional skin trauma.
- The size and location of the tattoo: The size and location of the tattoo can have an impact on the tattoo healing process as well. For example- If tattoos are done near the joints or the area that flex will take a longer time to heal than those in areas that do not move as much. Also, larger tattoos will take more time to heal than smaller ones.
- Tattooing device and color of ink: The type of tattooing device and the color of ink can also affect healing time. For example- red pigments cause delayed hypersensitivity reactions and slow down the healing process.
- Poor tattoo-aftercare routine: A well-maintained tattoo aftercare is very important for tattooing. It helps to heal tattoos quickly without causing any complications.
- Health issues: Several health issues can also affect the healing time.
Tattoo aftercare tips
Here are some tattoo aftercare tips that help you with proper tattoo healing.
- Wash the tattoo regularly. Don’t scrub the tattoo when washing it.
- Proper moisturize the tattoo with a suitable cream which ingredients are made for the tattoo.
- Use sunscreen to protect the tattoo from the sun.
- Try not to keep your tattoo wet for a prolonged time.
- Avoid using tanning beds.
- Avoid the use of prolonged scalding hot water because it can fade the ink of the tattoo.
- Try not to wear clothes that will stick and irritate your tattoo.
- Try to avoid doing any strenuous workouts until the tattoo fully heals.
FAQ On New Tattoos
Immediately after getting a new tattoo, your artist will apply an ointment or tattoo-specific cream and cover it with a bandage. Leave the bandage on for the time recommended by your artist, typically a few hours to overnight.
You should remove the bandage as per your tattoo artist’s instructions, usually after a few hours to prevent suffocating the tattooed area. Once you remove it, gently clean the tattoo with lukewarm water and mild, fragrance-free soap.
Clean your new tattoo 2-3 times a day with mild soap and lukewarm water. Avoid harsh scrubbing; gently pat the area dry with a clean, lint-free cloth.
Yes, it’s normal for your tattoo to ooze a combination of ink, plasma, and clear fluid during the initial stages of healing. Simply pat it dry and continue with your aftercare routine.
It’s best to avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, and natural bodies of water like lakes and rivers until your tattoo is fully healed. Submerging your tattoo in water, especially in public places, can introduce bacteria and increase the risk of infection.
Complete tattoo healing can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on your body’s healing process, the size of the tattoo, and how well you follow aftercare instructions.
Yes, after the initial cleansing and drying, you should apply a thin layer of tattoo-specific ointment or lotion to keep the area moisturized. Be sure to use a product recommended by your tattoo artist.
Yes, it’s crucial to keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight during the healing process, as UV rays can fade the ink and damage the healing skin. Once fully healed, always apply sunscreen to protect your tattoo from fading.
Signs of infection include excessive redness, swelling, pus, and increasing pain. If you suspect an infection, contact your tattoo artist and seek medical advice promptly. Do not remove any scabs or pick at the tattoo, as this can worsen the infection.
It’s best to wear loose, breathable clothing over your new tattoo to avoid friction and irritation. Tight clothing can rub against the tattooed area and slow down the healing process.
While light exercise is generally fine, avoid strenuous workouts, excessive sweating, and activities that may cause friction or irritation to the tattooed area during the initial healing phase.
Itching is a common part of the healing process. Do not scratch your tattoo. Instead, lightly tap or gently slap the itchy area, and continue with your aftercare routine.
The Bottom Line
Proper tattoo aftercare protects your tattoo from infection, helps the tattoo to heal faster & makes the tattoo last longer and shiny, and much more. So, taking care of your tattoo is important for you and your tattoo. Everyone who gets a tattoo should be aware of the tattoo aftercare. You can have a great experience with your tattoo if you persevere until the tattoo heals completely. Let’s be patient, care for, and enjoy your tattoo.