How to Care for a New Tattoo
You’ve gotten a new tattoo, and you want to ensure that it looks as good as it possibly can throughout the healing process and beyond. This requires care on your part, and we’re going to give you everything you need to help you care for your new tattoo. We’ll start at day one and go out until the end of the healing process, and we’ll also talk about what you should and shouldn’t do when you get a new tattoo.
Tattoo Maintenance Steps
Did you know that there are several things you have to do each day to make sure that your tattoo heals without complications? Arguably, the most important time to take care of your tattoo is immediately after you get up to three weeks to a month later. This crucial time is when your skin layers are in the healing process, and this is where your risk for infection is high.
1. Immediately After the Tattoo
- Once your artist finishes your tattoo and you’re happy with the finished result, they’ll clean and wrap it. They’ll generally use warm water, a mild soap, and an antibiotic ointment. When it’s clean, your artist will lightly wrap your tattoo to keep germs out. Plastic cling wrap is a popular choice for wrapping material because it doesn’t stick; it can cover larger areas, and it’s clear, so you can show off your tattoo.
- Cloth is another wrap option that’s more breathable and that can soak up anything that oozes out of your tattoo area, but it can also stick to the tattoo. You’ll leave this wrap on up to 24 hours, and your tattoo artist can give you an acceptable timetable when you can remove it.
2. Removing the Initial Wrap
- You can typically remove the initial wrap two to four hours after your artist wraps it. Just make sure that you can clean the area immediately after you remove the wrap. Gently remove the wrap when the recommended time passes by cutting through the medical tape your artist used to secure the wrap to your skin. Gently peel the wrap away. If it sticks, run a slow stream of lukewarm water over the area until it lets go.
3. Initial Wash
- Immediately after you remove the wrap, you want to wash the area. The first wash is immensely important, and it can cause complications if you’re too rough. You want to thoroughly wash your hands to get rid of any germs or bacteria first. Gently cup lukewarm water over your tattoo. Don’t scrub it and don’t use a rag or anything with a rough surface. Once you’ve wet the area, gently rub a fragrance-free antibacterial soap over the area. Try to remove any dried blood or bits of ink.
- Once the area is clean, cup lukewarm water over it to rinse the soap. You can air dry or gently pat the area with a paper towel. Don’t rub it. Let it completely dry and apply a thin layer of fragrance-free lotion or ointment to keep the area moisturized.
4. Days Two and Three
- Your tattoo is most likely red, sore, and puffy at this stage. You want to monitor it for a few days. Also, make sure you don’t stick to your sheets or clothing or pull them roughly away because they can damage your tattoo. Your tattoo may also feel slightly raised, and it can ooze. Keep your tattoo clean.
5. Days Four and Five
- Your tattoo should start to scab over at this time. These scabs should be a very light layer that covers all of your recently inked skin. Do not pull or pick at this scabs because you can pull ink out, and don’t worry if your tattoo looks cloudy or dull because this will change. Wear loose clothing that doesn’t rub on the area and monitor it.
6. Days Six to Fourteen
- As your tattoo heals, it’ll start to itch. This is the stage were your scabs mature and start to peel or flake off, and this is what causes the itching sensation. Don’t scratch or pick at your tattoo. If you think your tattoo is too dry, you can apply light layers of unscented lotion six to seven times a day. Coconut oil is a great choice. Also, you’ll see inked flakes of skin coming off. Nothing is wrong with your tattoo, and this is normal as the top layers of skin heal.
7. Days Fifteen to Thirty
- You’re in the final stages of the healing process. Your tattoo should be almost finished peeling except for a few odd areas. The swelling, soreness, and redness should be going away or gone, and the raised edges should be well on their way to being flat. There will be a thin layer of dead skin what will gradually flake off over the next four to eight weeks. It may still itch, but don’t scratch it. Your tattoo’s top layer will take another month to heal.
Tattoo Aftercare Do’s and Dont’s
- Wash your tattoo at least once a day for the first 30 days to prevent infection.
- Always use sunscreen when you go out to avoid your colors fading.
- Moisturize your tattoo regularly.
- Leave your wrap on for the entire time as allotted by your artist.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your healing tattoo. Treat it like an open wound.
- Allow anyone else to touch your healing tattoo. You have no idea where their hands have been.
- Pick at your tattoo’s scabs or scratch it because you may pull ink out and get bacteria into your open wound.
- Submerge your tattoo in bodies of water because of the potential infection risk due to bacteria or germs. Don’t swim for the first three weeks after getting your tattoo.
- Rewrap your tattoo unless your artist gives you specific instructions to do so and explains how to do it properly.
- Use alcohol or fragrance-based soaps to clean your tattoo because it can irritate your sensitive skin.
- Exercise or workout for a couple of days after getting a tattoo because this can irritate your skin and delay the healing process.
- A tattoo is a huge commitment that requires a high level of dedication and care to help ensure that your skin heals properly, and your tattoo looks as good as it possibly can. Our guide gives you a comprehensive look at what you want to do when you get your tattoo. If it heals correctly, you’ll have a beautiful piece of artwork that you can be proud of for decades.