11 Tips on How to Care for Your New Tattoo

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6– Within a couple of days to a week, a thin layer of skin will start to peel or flake off from the whole tattoo, just like the peeling you receive from sunburn. Again, this is totally normal. It is essentially the scabby layer and dead skin coming off. Do not scratch it or play with it! It will probably itch throughout this time, do not scratch! Your tattoo will still be extremely delicate and you could end up scratching it open. One remedy for the itch is to lightly pat or slap it with a clean paper towel.

7– Do not soak your tattoo for at least two weeks from the day it’s been done. So no bathing or swimming (sauna is also not recommended). Showering is entirely great, in fact cleaning your tattoo under the shower is probably the simplest way to do it. Your tattooist might encourage you to avoid these things for a longer period of time; it depends on your skin healing time and which aftercare you use.

8– Do not get in a sunbed or expose your tattoo to direct sunlight for at least two weeks! UV rays damage the skin, and will fade your tattoo’s color. This applies forever. Even after your tattoo heals, (not WHILE it’s healing), use the highest UV protection sunblock you can find whenever you are in the sun. (Buy some ‘baby-block’ for maximum protection.)

9– Your tattoo may take between 1 to 3 weeks to recover. Again, the healing process will depend on your skin type, on the aftercare product you use, the size, position, and style of the tattoo. A full color tattoo will generally take longer to heal than a grey shaded piece. If you get a rash, or any type of unusual signs on or around the tattoo, contact your tattooist immediately.

10– Avoid working out. Tattoos covering big areas or those that are near joints (such as elbows and knees), may take longer if the skin is required to move too much, either during intense workouts or other physical activity. Working out could also cause the skin to break and become irritated, extending the tattoos healing procedure.

11– Always ask for help when you’re not sure of how to take care of your tattoo. Note, you can always consult your own medical professional if you experience any sort of skin reaction or if the tattooed area becomes infected, but your tattoo artist is the first resource you should go to. A professional tattooist would have given you lots of tattoo care recommendations prior to you leaving the shop. However, that doesn’t mean you can not return to him or her if you encounter issues or need help or any sort of assistance. They are available to help.

Well, there you have it! Healing a tattoo is truly not all that challenging. Normally individuals make mistakes when they think too much and begin to overdo things. By using good quality tattoo Aftercare products, it minimizes the threat of infection and helps to prevent/minimize scabbing, hence assisting the body to heal faster. (And some don’t use anything at all on healing tattoos. Experience will guide you over time. Follow the advice of your artist till then.)

Do not forget! Looking after your tattoo isn’t really just for a week or so, it’s for life! The better condition your skin is in, the better the tattoo will look and last over the years. Moisturize daily and make use of sun block on every occasion. Bright, clean, crisp tattoos are a fantastic thing to have. The body art you collect will stay with you for the rest of your life. So it’s well worth the time and efforts to appropriately care for them while they are healing, and then beyond. (Remember, the less sun they get, the longer they will stay bright.)

 

-Crash

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Crash
Tattoo Artist since 1990 and creator/publisher of Tattoo Artist Magazine since 2003

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5 thoughts on “11 Tips on How to Care for Your New Tattoo

  1. why would you post a picture of a cling wrap bandaid? I was taught it’s a green house for bacteria and infection. Great article though would love to share but that picture would contradict what I’ve been telling my clients for years. It’s also against health regulations in my area.

    1. You’re right! Forgot the caption & warning. I’ll get it on there soon! Check it again, And then share;)

  2. What is the reasoning for not re wrapping it? During the work on my sleeve, I covered my arm for the first 48 hours while my skin is weeping. I re wrap my work in a CLEAN, loose, gauze bandage. I do this when I sleep so the bed sheets don’t stick, if I have to wear long sleeves, or if I am in an area where my tattoo could be touching dirty chairs, couches, ect. I figure its best to keep it covered and clean while it is still open. The gauze is breathable, and much cleaner then anything long sleeve shirt that comes out of the laundry.

    Am I totally wrong on this? I am a nurse, so maybe my over bearing wound care knowledge is coming in to play! lol

    Thanks for the great article and blog! Its great to see reputable advice from real artists!

    Cheers

    1. Oh, yeah- I’m sure you see LOTS of people who fail to follow instructions, huh? Haha. You should already know, this is only about education for the masses on the basics, for people who don’t know, haven’t gotten tattooed yet, or who didn’t get care instructions from their trailer park scratcher. So we rely upon the K.I.S.S. rule, (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
      -Go to a good studio and follow the advice given you, there.

      All said, your being a nurse and working around blood and wounds all day long, as a career professional, it’s much more likely you are going to clean and care for your tattoo properly on a regular basis, and you seem to have found a method that works for you and which you understand, because of your training. Most don’t have that. So our goal is simple, easy, and effective, while minimizing the chances of someone screwing up their new work. I would not recommend to the average new client to do anything more complicated than clean and care for it several times a day. If re-wrapped and not cleaned every few hours, left sitting in that ooze and ointment, it increases the risk of infection and then cross-contamination, and, primarily, it’s about breathe-ability and reducing the healing time. Gauze is better than plastic, in this regard, but, then, I’ve seen people fail to clean and replace that, as well, causing the gauze to stick to the ointment, the healing skin and any scabs. Ripping those off after a day or two of untreatment and real problems arise.

      The majority of poorly healed tattoos we see are caused by people failing to follow the SIMPLE advice given them in their care instructions, relying instead on whatever they prefer to think is best/better, or what their ‘friends’ have told them, or simple apathy or negligence.
      Thanks!

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