What You Need to Know About Tattoo Aftercare
Now that the tattoo artist has put the finishing touches on your much anticipated body art, it’s your turn to take over. You relied on the artist’s experience to translate the image in your mind into the image on your body so now listen closely to his or her aftercare advice. That’ll help your tattoo keep looking like new many years down the road.
Why is tattoo aftercare so important?
Your skin is delicate. You probably figured as much since it likely hurt when you got your tattoo. Whether or not you’re willing to admit to the pain, there’s no denying your skin’s been wounded. And now it needs to heal. Just like any other time you cut yourself, if you don’t’ treat the wound right, the damaged area might not heal right.
That’s not a chance you want to take with your brand new tattoo. Without proper care an infection can develop at the site. Tattoos that don’t heal right can sometimes leave behind unsightly scar tissue. And even worse, you could accidentally pull away some of the tattoo’s coloring. So treat your tattoo right. Here’s how.
Keep your tattoo under cover!
After you’ve had a chance to peek at your beautiful new tattoo, the tattoo artist will cover it with a thin layer of antibacterial ointment. That’ll then be covered with a gauze bandage or plastic wrap.
No matter how tempted you are to start showing off your new body art, you must keep the area covered for as long as you’ve been instructed! That’s how you make sure the damaged area stays dry and clean. And it’s also how you resist the urge to pick at or rub your skin.
The covering also catches any blood or ink that oozes from the tattoo. If this happens, don’t worry. It’s normal. But it’s messy and it can ruin your clothing, linens and even the upholstery in your car.
The first cleaning
When you’re able to remove the protective covering, the tattoo is ready for its first cleaning. Using antibacterial soap and warm water gently wash all around. Never scrub your tattoo or use a brush or harsh cleaners. Remember – even if you’re a man – your skin is delicate. Dry the area by patting gently with a soft towel or paper towel.
After cleaning your tattoo, don’t rebandage it because air helps the healing process. If you want, go ahead and apply a layer of antibacterial ointment – as long as you’re not allergic to it. If you’re unsure about allergies be on the lookout for red bumps. Their appearance is a sign of an allergic reaction so if you see them, immediately stop using whatever it is you’re using.
The next few days
Over the course of the next few days, what’s most important is keeping your tattoo clean. Keep washing the area several times a day following the above instructions. Any time your tattoo starts looking dry or starts to itch, dab on a bit of your ointment of choice or a fragrance-free moisturizer. Just remember to allow air at it because it helps your tattoo heal properly.
If you feel the tattoo needs to be covered because of where you work or live, cover it with loose-fitting clean clothing which will still allow air to circulate. But wear older clothing because of the ooze factor. If your tattoo does ooze, your clothes might stick to it. If so DON’T rip your clothing away because you might accidentally rip away some of the tattoo’s coloring. Instead, dampen the stuck part and then gently work it free.
Dealing with soreness and pain
It’s not unusual for the affected area to be sore or painful for a couple days afterwards. If this happens you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever. You can also apply an ice pack, 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Bruising is also normal, especially if the tattoo is located on a sensitive body part.
What else you should know about tattoo aftercare
- Always keep the tattoo out of direct sunlight, especially during the first week. Get into the habit of applying best sunscreen for tatoos with an appropriate level of sun protection or covering it with clothing. Sun can fade your tattoo.
- Since hot tubs and pools contain bacteria, it’s important to clean your tattoo after getting out of either. Better yet, just stay out until your tattoo heals.
- If you have questions about your new tattoo, don’t hesitate to contact your tattoo artist.
- If you think you’re developing an infection, seek medical help right away.