In most cases your tattoo artist will give you a written set of instructions as well as verbal guidance about taking care of your new tattoo.
Aftercare practices vary slightly from one tattooist to another. You’ll be well served to follow the tattooists instructions for two reasons. First, experienced tattooist’s have been trained for healthy methods of tattoo aftercare. The other reason is for the unlikely event you’re not happy with the tattoo. If you follow the tattooist’s care instructions you’ll have a better case for refund or touch-up without additional cost.
Basic New Tattoo Care Practices
- Depending on the size of the tattoo and your artists’ advice, you need to leave the bandage on for 4 – 12 hours.
- When it’s time to remove the dressing be very careful not to pull if the bandage is sticking to the new tattoo. If the bandage is sticking, pour cool water between the bandage and the tattoo. Allow the water to loosen the bandage before removing. Proceed slowly and cautiously. Pulling a bandage that is stuck to the new tattoo can pull some of the ink from the tattoo.
- During the healing process be careful not to pull or scrape any of the scabbing from the tattoo. Pulling off scabs before the tattoo is fully healed can lead to uncolored holes.
- Once the bandage has been removed rinse the tattoo with cool water. Only use your finger tips with a gentle scrubbing motion to wash the tattoo. Washcloths, sponges, cotton swabs or paper towels are to abrasive. Do not stick the tattoo under the full force of the water facet.
- When taking a shower don’t let the full force of the water hit the tattoo. When taking a bath do not submerge the tattoo under the water. In either case, splash cool water on the tattoo area then gently wash with your finger tips using a mild soap that is free of additives.
- After cleaning the tattoo, pouring cool or cold water over the tattoo area will aid and quicken the healing process. Some tattooists believe this helps “set the color” as the cool water tightens the pores. The cool water also helps to reduce any swelling that may have occurred.
- To dry a new tattoo after cleaning, use a soft cotton towel or soft paper towel. Do not rub the tattoo; rather gently pat the tattoo area to absorb the water.
- An optional treatment is to apply a thin coating of an A&D ointment after cleaning the tattoo. There are many ointment products sold over the Internet for treating new tattoos. Your tattooist may offer an A&D ointment as well. These can be used but take care to avoid any product that contains alcohol, this will cause burning and pain.
- If the tattoo is in an area that will be susceptible to rubbing or irritation from your clothing it would be a good idea to apply another bandage. Apply the new bandage loosely over the tattoo.
- During the healing process the tattoo is going to itch. You must remember not to scratch, rub or pick the tattoo. Allow the scab to fall off naturally. Also for 2 – 3 weeks you should avoid swimming, Jacuzzis, tanning beds and direct sunlight.
- Once the tattoo is fully healed you can return to normal showering or bathing habits. You should avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight – direct sun can fade the coloring of tattoos. If you’re a sun worshiper use a suntan lotion to protect your tattoos.