Your new tattoo may take up to 6 months to heal completely. Despite the clear dangers of not following aftercare instructions, some people still don’t take it seriously. They think they know better than the tattoo artist and end up with infections or ruined ink.
But you can avoid these problems and enjoy your new tattoo if you follow instructions carefully.
Here are some tips to help your tattoo heal properly:
Why Does Tattoo Aftercare Matter?
Tattoo artists will always tell you to follow the proper aftercare tips because it’s good for your tattoo and health.
Here are some reasons why tattoo aftercare matters:
• Reduces risk of infection: Caring for your tattoo correctly keeps your skin clean and prevents germs from causing infections.
• Boosts healing: Your new tattoo needs time to get better, and proper aftercare makes it heal faster. You’ll feel less pain and discomfort later on.
• Keeps your tattoo looking fresh: Good aftercare keeps the colors bright and stops them from fading. This way, your tattoo will look brand new for many years.
• Prevents complications: Without good aftercare, you might end up with scars, blurry ink, or skin problems like swelling. But if you follow your artist’s instructions, you can avoid these problems.
Immediate Aftercare (First 24 Hours)
When you first get your tattoo, your artist will bandage it to protect your new ink from dirt and germs. Leave it on for a few hours, then follow these steps to take it off:
• Remove the bandage gently to avoid damaging the tattoo.
• Wash the tattoo with mild, unscented soap and lukewarm water. Use your clean hands, not a rough cloth or sponge.
• Pat it dry with a clean paper towel and avoid rubbing or scrubbing.
You should also keep your tattoo clean and dry during the first 24 hours, so be sure to follow these steps:
• Don’t soak the tattoo in water, like in a bath or hot tub.
• Avoid swimming or exposing it to excessive moisture, like heavy sweating.
• Don’t apply ointments or lotions at this stage.
What if There’s Excessive Bleeding or Swelling?
A little bleeding and swelling is normal, but if it seems excessive, do this:
• Apply gentle pressure with a clean paper towel to stop the bleeding.
• If swelling persists, use a cold pack wrapped in a clean cloth. Apply it for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Proper Clothing and Protection
While your tattoo is fresh, you’ll want to:
• Wear loose, clean clothing to prevent friction and irritation.
• Avoid tight or restrictive garments over the tattooed area.
• Be mindful of your tattoo when sleeping so it doesn’t rub against the sheets.
Daily Care in the First Week
For the first week after you get your tattoo, it’s important to keep it clean. Wash it gently with mild, fragrance-free soap and warm water. Use your clean hands, not a scrubby towel or sponge, and pat it dry with a soft paper towel.
Ointments and Moisturizers
Your fresh tattoo needs extra care, so apply a thin layer of unscented lotion or ointment to stop it from drying up. Skip the tattoo numbing cream at this point because it’s better for the tattooing process, not for healing.
Avoid Direct Sunlight and Swimming
Keep your fresh tattoo out of the sun so the colors don’t fade, and don’t go swimming or soak in a bath. Pools and open water have germs that can hurt your new ink and get you infected.
Be aware of any unusual changes around your tattoo, like redness, swelling, or strange liquid coming out. If you see these signs or feel intense pain, it’s time to talk to your tattoo artist or a doctor. When extreme pain or discomfort makes it hard to follow aftercare instructions, a tattoo artist or doctor may recommend using tattoo numbing cream carefully.
Weeks 2-4: The Healing Process
During weeks 2 to 4, your tattoo may scab and peel. This is totally normal. It’s your skin’s way of healing and shedding the old layers. Don’t pick at the scabs because you might damage your tattoo. Instead, let them come off on their own.
Itching and Scratching
You might feel itchy as your tattoo heals. It’s normal, but don’t scratch it because you might cause an infection and ruin your tattoo. Instead, gently tap or rub the itch.
Continued Sun Protection
As your tattoo heals, you can gradually reduce the amount of ointment and moisturizer you use. Your skin won’t need as much as it did during the initial healing phase. Just keep it lightly moisturized to prevent it from becoming too dry.
Signs of Infection
Check your tattoo regularly. If you see signs of infection like more redness, swelling, pus, or a fever, talk to a doctor right away. Infections need quick attention to prevent more problems.
Long-Term Tattoo Care
Your new tattoo looks great, and you want the colors to stay bright. To keep them vibrant, don’t leave your tattoo exposed to sunlight for too long. Use sunscreen if you really need to be in the sun because UV rays can cause the ink to fade over time. You should also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and moisturize because dry skin can make your tattoo look faded and old.
The things you do every day can affect how well your tattoo looks. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and being stressed can all make your skin look older, and your ink fade faster. Take good care of your health to keep your tattoo looking its best for longer.
Tattoo Aftercare Products
To keep your new tattoo looking good, stick to the basics. Here’s a list of some of the recommended aftercare products:
• Mild, unscented soap: To keep your tattoo clean, use mild, unscented soap and water gently to avoid irritation.
• Moisturizer: Your tattoo artist knows best. Follow their recommendations for a simple, unscented lotion or ointment to keep your ink moisturized and healthy.
• Numbing Cream (During Tattooing): If the tattooing process is painful, you can use a Tattoo Numbing Cream to help ease the discomfort. Talk to your tattoo artist beforehand to see if it suits you, and follow their instructions carefully.
Tattoos that are well cared for will age gracefully like fine wine. Shield them from the sun, keep them supple, and retouch them if necessary. Your effort and care will reward you with a tattoo that looks amazing for many years