How to Guide: New Tattoo Care
How to Guide to New Tattoo Care
Your brand new tattoo requires a certain amount of tattoo care to promote healing, prevent infection, and keep it fresh for longer. Here’s how to do it.
You’ve got a new tattoo. Congratulations! Feeding the ink addiction is always exciting, and you probably can’t wait to show off your new art.
But before your tattoo is going to be ready to be on public display, you’ll have to get through the healing process. Whether this is your first tattoo or one of many, you’ll want to make sure you’re practicing proper tattoo care ever time.
Proper after-care ensures your tattoo doesn’t get infected, that it heals well, and that it stays vibrant and fresh for as long as possible.
Keep reading for the complete guide to tattoo aftercare.
First-day care determines the trajectory of your entire healing process. It’s also split into to two separate, but equally important steps.
At the Shop
The first thing your tattoo artist is going to do is apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly over your tattoo and apply a bandage or clear covering over your tattoo.
You want to leave this on. No matter how much you want to look at your tattoo, leave the bandage on until you’re ready to wash the tattoo.
Once You Get Home
There’s some wiggle room here, as you can wash your tattoo after a few hours or leave the bandage on for 24 hours before washing.
Do what works best for you.
When it comes time to wash your tattoo, remove the bandage slowly and carefully, being careful not to pull if it’s stuck. If your bandage does stick to your tattoo, run some water over it (gently). It should come free.
Your tattoo may be a little tender, so be gentle here. Use a mild antibacterial soap or special tattoo soap to carefully wash your tattoo. If you don’t use a specially formulated tattoo soap, make sure to use a soap free of hydrogen peroxide, dyes or fragrances. The simpler, the better.
Don’t scrub and don’t use a loofah or cleansing cloth.
Rinse the tattoo and pat it dry with a clean towel.
You’ll want to leave it uncovered at bedtime and sleep on sheets you don’t mind getting dirty. The tattoo may ooze ink and plasma for a day or two.
Day 3 – 4
Now the scabbing starts.
Some folks get full on hard scabbing, while others only see flaking like you would with a sunburn. Regardless, the tattoo care steps are the same.
Once the scabbing or flaking sets in, use a tattoo lotion to keep the tattoo moisturized. As with the soap, you can use special tattoo lotions or just a simple, dye-free, fragrance-free lotion from the drugstore.
It’s important NOT TO PICK at the scabs. Doing so will fade your tattoo and can put you at risk for infection. They will flake off on their own, so just keep moisturizing.
You’ll need to keep the tattoo clean during this time, but you also don’t want to scrub it directly with the soap, as this can scrape away the flaking and scabbing.
Instead, wash above and around the tattoo, and allow the soapy water to run over the tattoo. Continue to pat dry.
When you’re out and about, make sure you’re wearing loose clothing so the tattoo can breathe, but don’t expose it to direct sunlight.
Day 7 – 10
You’ll start noticing the itching about now. As the tattoo heals, it’s going to itch like crazy.
First things first: DON’T SCRATCH.
Scratching not only tears away any remaining scabs, it also creates tiny cuts in the skin that invite skin infection. The whole point of tattoo care is to avoid infection, so don’t scratch.
Instead, you can apply gentle pressure with a cloth. Some artists will even recommend lightly patting the area to relieve the itch.
Other than that, just keep moisturizing, and keep it clean. Once the scabbing is completely gone, you can start washing the tattoo directly, but again, don’t scrub.
Day 12 – 14
At this point, your tattoo should be pretty close to completely healed. Scabbing should be done, and you shouldn’t be noticing any leaking ink or plasma.
Continue wearing loose clothing and keep the tattoo out of the sun for at least two weeks. You should also avoid swimming or submerging your tattoo for the first two weeks.
Stay away from hot water, too, even in the shower. It can fade the ink.
Once the tattoo is fully healed, after 2 – 4 weeks, your initial tattoo care is done! You made it!
Since tattoos are an investment, though, your tattoo care doesn’t stop there.
You can ditch the loose clothes and you can start taking long baths and swimming again. But there are a few things you should always do, to keep your tattoo looking bright and fresh.
First, moisturize it. You should be moisturizing your skin anyway, so just make sure the tattoo is getting some love when you moisturize the rest of your skin, especially if you live in a very cold or very dry climate.
Second, make sure that if your tattoo is going to be exposed to the sun, you use sunscreen. This is very important when the tattoo is newly healed but is also a good rule of thumb going forward.
If you continue getting tattoos (and many do. They can be addictive), tattoo care will eventually feel routine.
Just keep in mind that tattoos are a big investment. Baby them and the skin they’re on.
For more on the best tattoos in Las Vegas, contact us here so we can get started on your next work of art.