Tips for Tatoo Aftercare :
Getting a tattoo is an important life decision. Once you have the image inked on your body, you can’t easily change your mind. Tattoo aftercare is thus the key to preventing infection, speeding the healing process and keeping your tattoo looking as bright as the day you got it!
After the Tattoo – Your First Day
– The type of wrapping used by artist varies but plastic wrap is most commonly used.
**Always wash your hands thoroughly before you do anything with your new tattoo, you want to treat it like it an open wound at this stage in the healing process.**
Now that you have the tattoo uncovered you are going to want to wash it. Depending on the location of your tattoo this may be easier to do by getting into the shower.
How to wash your tattoo:
– Be sure to use a mild, fragrance-free soap. Soap containing fragrance or alcohol might burn and can over-dry the skin.
– Using your fingers only you will want to gently wash away the excess blood and ink. DO NOT SCRUB.
– Use a light stream of cool water, if using the shower make sure you do not run the water too hot and avoid putting your tattoo under a direct stream. Do not submerge or soak the tattoo.
After washing, pat your tattoo dry with a clean towel, you don’t want to risk infecting your new tattoo.
This is the point where there is a difference of opinions.
Most artists art say that you should begin to apply ointment (or a fragrance-free lotion) right away and others feel that you should wait a few days until the tattoo begins to dry out before using.
For all of my tattoos I have used the apply right away method and have had no negative effects on my tattoos as result of doing so. If you are concerned about which method may be best for your tattoo (as the location can have a large effect on healing) I would recommend asking your artist what their personal recommendation is.
When applying ointment use just enough to cover the surface of the tattoo but don’t overdo it as over-moisturizing can negatively affect the tattoo. If you find you have put too much on just gently pat off the excess ointment (remember always with clean hands and a clean towel).
Some commonly recommended ointments and lotions are:
- Aquaphor (this is what I personally have used on my tattoos)
- A+D® Ointment
- Lubriderm non-scented
Products to stay away from:
- Neosporin or any triple antibiotic ointments
- Lotions that contain “alcohol”
Do not cover your tattoo with any bandages or wraps. You will want to put on clean comfortable or loose fitting clothing. Tight clothing can rub or irritate your new tattoo and continued irritation can possibly cause permanent damage, resulting in the need of a “touch up”. You might want to wear something old as most tattoos will “ooze” and seep clear plasma and excess ink for the first day and night. This is normal but can stain sheets and clothes.
Helping the Healing:
Tattoo Healing Timeline
- Tattoo Healing Timeline – Week 1
For the duration of the first week, you may experience sunburn-like sensations in your newly tattooed area. You may also experience some minor swelling and discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers can assist to alleviate some of this discomfort.
- Tattoo Healing Timeline – Week 2
Your new tattoo may start to peel and flake. The area of your new tattoo may also feel dry and itchy. Do NOT scratch your new tattoo or pick any scabs!
- Tattoo Healing Timeline – Week 3
By now, most of the scabbing on your new tattoo will be gone. The area may still be sensitive as your skin persists to heal completely.
Karen Hudson suggests “a specialty product such as Tattoo Goo or H2Ocean,” though many over-the-counter products also work. Don’t use Polysporin or its derivatives, though. They are for healing infection, not preventing it! “Maintain moisture and allow oxygen” as Nicole Allard emphasizes. Keep moisturizing your tattoo “for 2-3 weeks.” Att the beginning, according to Pat Fish, owner of the Santa Barbara tattoo shop, it’s “not too much to put it on once an hour.”
Tattoo Healing – Don’ts
- Do NOT apply vaseline to your new tattoo
- Do NOT apply alcohol to your new tattoo
- Do NOT swim, or soak in the tub, for at least 2 weeks
- Do NOT get your new tattoo sunburnt
- Most importantly, expect that the tattoo will scab. Don’t scratch, don’t scratch, don’t scratch! This will ruin the color and increase the chance of infection. Allow it to heal naturally.
- Don’t let the skin grow tight with dryness
- Don’t let it suffocate under layers of clothing
Keeping it Beautiful:
Never let the water run directly on your tattoo until it is healed. Try not to soak too long in the tub. The main key to keeping your tattoo bold is to stay out of the sun. That is one of the most important things when we talk about tattoo aftercare. Tanning or burning will break down the colors and fade your work of art. Apply a sunscreen lotion of 30 SPF if you must be outside for prolonged periods of time.
Once your tattoo is completely healed, touch-ups are sometimes required to strengthen lines and darken the shading. After this, it will heal again quickly, and you can enjoy the beauty of your tattoo’s self-expression for years.