You now have your brand new tattoo, and you’ll want to take good care of it! From this point on, your artist is not responsible for any infection or other problems you may have with your tattoo if you don’t take proper care of it. It is very important that you follow these guidelines. A gorgeous tattoo can turn into a disaster if the proper aftercare is not taken.
Leave That Bandage Alone!
Your artist took the care to cover up your new tattoo for a very good reason–to keep airborne bacteria from invading your wound. As beautiful as your new tattoo is, it is still a wound. Open flesh is a breeding ground for bacteria and infection. Leave the bandage on for a MINIMUM of two hours. The excitement of having a new tattoo will make you want to remove the bandage to show your friends and family; unfortunately, they will have to wait until your tattoo is healed.
Wash and Treat
After you remove the bandage, you will want to wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap to gently wash away any ointment, blood and/or plasma, and anything abrasive. Your hand is your best tool in this case. If your tattoo feels slimy and slippery, you have probably been oozing plasma. Try to gently remove as much of this as possible–when the plasma dries on the skin surface, it creates scabs. Next, pat the area firmly with a CLEAN towel or paper towel until it is completely dry (do not rub the area!). You should then proceed with a very light application of your choice of ointment to the area. We recommend A & D vitamin-enriched ointment; however, if you don’t have any, then Bacitracin or a similar antibacterial ointment is acceptable. However, DO NOT use Neosporin–it is a wonderful product for cuts and scrapes, but not for tattoos. Some people can have an allergic reaction to Neosporin, which can cause small red bumps on the skin. When the bumps go away, so will the ink, which will leave you with a polka-dotted tattoo. After initially applying ointment, you must continue to keep the area clean, but you can use dye-free, fragrance-free lotion in place of ointment as needed to keep the skin soft.
Bathing, Showering, Hot Tubs, and Swimming
Yes, you can (and should!) shower with a new tattoo. It is okay to get your tattoo wet–just don’t soak it. Submerging your tattoo in a bath or hot tub can cause serious damage, so you’ll want to avoid doing so for about 2-3 weeks. However, showering is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t saturate your tattoo. If you happen to get soap or shampoo on your tattoo, remove it quickly with water. Swimming–whether in a pool, fresh water, or salt water–should be avoided for at least 2-3 weeks.
Scabbing and Peeling
After a few days, you will notice some peeling, and possibly a little scabbing. Excessive scabbing could indicate a poorly-done tattoo, but a small amount of scabbing can be normal and is no cause for panic. Apply warm, moist compresses to the scabs for about 5 minutes, 2-3 times a day, in order to soften them; they will eventually come off on their own. Do not apply ointment or lotion to a softened scab–wait for it to dry. The tattooed area will eventually become itchy, just like a sunburn when it begins to heal. DO NOT scratch or pick at the tattoo! If the tattooed area is itchy, pat it for relief. If the area is peeling, then apply a dye-free, fragrance-free lotion to it. Your tattoo is almost healed, and now is not the time to ruin it!
Protection from the Sun
You will always want to protect your tattoo from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, even after it has healed. UV rays can fade and damage a brilliant tattoo very quickly. Before spending time in excessive sunlight, protect your tattoo with a minimum 30 SPF sunscreen. This will keep your tattoo vibrant for many years, allowing it to remain a source of great pride.
Staying committed to your tattoo aftercare is essential for maintaining a healthy and stunning tattoo. DO NOT skip on washing and moisturizing. Follow your aftercare instructions diligently, and you’ll be all healed up and showing off your fresh ink before you know it!