The first few days and weeks of healing are probably the most important for the longevity of your new tattoo. Make sure you care for it properly.
Getting a tattoo involves breaking the skin surface so there is always a potential risk for infection to occur afterwards. It should be treated as a wound initially so that the infection risk can be minimized.
Since each individual is different, this may not always be the best recommendation for everyone. Please follow the advice of your tattoo artist based on the information you provide regarding how your body heals while cross-referencing this guide.
Minimizing Infection Risk Guidance
- Avoid unnecessary touching, scratching or picking of the new tattoo site to reduce the risk of introducing infection.
Always wash and dry your hands before and after handling a new tattoo site.
Leave the dressing on for 2 to 24 hours. Tattoos will ooze, this is a normal part of the healing process. The bandage is there to keep airborne bacteria and any other contaminants in the environment from invading your wound.
After removing the dressing, cleanse the tattooed area with soap and water. Do not scrub with a brush or towel. Pat dry with a clean hand towel, and let air dry for ten minutes.
- Apply a very light amount of a healing ointment [such as Eucerin or Aquaphor] and gently rub in. Pat off any excess and avoid oversaturation. Switch to a fragrance-free, dye-free water based lotion or shea butter [such as Curel, Lubriderm, Cetaphil, Dove]. Do not use Neosporin, Vaseline, petroleum jelly or anything with antibiotics or fragrances in it. You do not need to re-bandage.
For two weeks do not take baths or let it soak in water. Avoid swimming, sun beds and sun bathing for two weeks, as direct sunlight/chlorine can interact with tattoo dye pigments causing skin irritation and inflammation, as well as infection. No pools, oceans, hot tubs or saunas [I’m serious!]
Always use sunblock/sunscreen on your tattoos post-healing to prolong the life of your beautiful work. (And to save your skin!)
Try to wear loose, cotton clothing to minimize rubbing and irritation to a new tattoo site.
After a few days you may notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing. It is at this point in the healing process that your tattoo will begin to itch. RESIST THE URGE TO SATISFY YOUR DESIRE TO SCRATCH, RUB, OR PICK at the tattoo. If it itches that badly, give it a little pat // slap.
After approximately two weeks, any scabbing should have gone and been replaced with new, intact skin. The area should be completely healed in a further 10-14 days.
- If you have any problems/queries, contact your artist initially - they will advise you to consult a physician if you experience symptoms such as excessive swelling, redness, yellow or green discharge (especially foul smelling), fever, excessive tenderness.