Tattoo Aftercare: What You Need to Know
All you need to know to prevent your tattoo from getting infected
19 July 2021
Congratulations! You've just got a tattoo and it probably looks amazing - but what's next? You need to take care of it so that it doesn't get infected during the first few days and lasts for many years. Read on to find out how tattoo aftercare works.
Aftercare after getting a tattoo is very important. Not just so that the tattoo remains intact, but so that it doesn't affect your health.
Your age, state of health and hygiene, as well as the placement of the tattoo on your body, will determine how long it will take for the tattoo to heal.
On the web there is a lot of different information on how to take care of a new tattoo, and it can be overwhelming - no wonder, as you might come across false or dubious advice.
The most important step is to always follow your artist’s recommendations so that the result is nothing other than what you expect: an amazing tattoo. So the first aftercare instruction is to get ready in advance.
Some recommendations before getting a new tattoo
- Sleep well.
- Eat well.
- Do not be under the influence of any psychotropic or illegal substance.
- Stay hydrated before, during and after the process.
The most important thing to take into consideration at all times is to avoid infection or disease. Therefore, the main premise to take into account is hygiene, not only of the body but also of the studio where the body art is going to be carried out.
Tattoo care considerations
As we have already mentioned, one of the key factors in terms of tattoo aftercare is the place where the tattoo will be carried out. It is important to check the space and the tools that will be used throughout the creation process and that the place complies with all the regulations that exist regarding this matter.
Check with the tattoo artist that he or she uses disposable needles, gel and antibacterial soap for hands, among other hygienic measures. It is also important to use gloves, and that the work area is clean and disinfected before use.
How to care for a new tattoo step by step
Having said that, let's move on to the actual tattoo aftercare. Before providing you with standard healing guidelines, you should know that there is no written rule, no single way tattoo healing works.
Different techniques and different skins heal differently. Every area is different, every technique does different damage to the skin and that is why we should never give clients a single, unique guideline.
That being said, once the tattoo session is over it is important to take the following precautions:
1. Desinfect the tattoo
Before covering the tattoo, make sure that the piece has been disinfected with a soapy solution.
2. Cover the tattoo
The most common method is to use cling film to wrap the tattoo. Sometimes, if the skin is badly damaged, tattoo artists opt for absorbent covers. Other times, if the skin has barely bled or oozed, they prefer to leave the skin in the open air but always with a layer of lotion so that it doesn't dry out.
3. Clean the skin
It is advisable to remove the wrap after the first 2-3 hours. Don't panic if after these hours a little ink or blood starts to come out - this is completely normal. Wash the tattoo with water and antimicrobial soap and then pat it dry with a paper towel that doesn’t release any paper particles.
Never dry the tattoo with a cloth towel as tiny specks of lint could stick between the wound and the new layer of skin created during the healing process.
4. Moisture and let the skin breathe
Apply a thin layer of protective lotion, but do not wrap up the skin again. The important thing here is to let fresh air circulate around the tattooed area. This will prevent the formation of bacteria or microbes that can develop in oxygen-deprived wounds and cause infection.
This process of washing with antiseptic soap and applying lotion when the area is dry should be done 2 or 3 times a day, until the tattoo has peeled off and new skin has appeared. It is important to keep it moisturised to keep the skin elastic and avoid micro-tears due to moving your body around carelessly or bumping into something.
After a few intense days of cleaning the new tattoo, a scab will form. Remember that the tattoo is like a wound, so scabbing is completely normal.
By observing how the scab appears and how it evolves you can get an idea of how long it will take for the new tattoo to heal. In fact, scabbing is an indication that the tattoo is on the right track.
In some cases, scabbing doesn’t always appear. This doesn’t mean that your tattoo is healing badly, scabbing simply depends on each person's body and the preventive hygiene measures that have been taken.
Itching in the area of the tattoo is another good sign that it is healing properly. At this point it is important not to scratch so that the scab does not come off causing pain or other problems.
Once the itching disappears, we will be able to see how our body has overcome the tattoo wound and all we have to do is enjoy it, showing off our new ink with pride and joy.
Other tattoo aftercare instructions
- Wash your hands before touching your tattoo.
- Wash your tattoo for the first few days with cool or lukewarm water. Hot water opens the pores and could damage the ink and the tattoo.
- Protect the tattoo from the sun by wearing appropriate clothing.
Things not to do after getting a tattoo
There are several ways in which a tattoo can become infected and lose all the work that has been done.
Avoid the following to keep your tattoo healing properly and looking radiant:
- Scratching, rubbing too hard.
- Going to the beach or swimming pool.
- Exposing the tattoo to the sun for the first two weeks.
- Wearing tight clothing over the new tattoo.
- Shaving near the tattoo.
- If you think your tattoo is infected, don't wait to go to the doctor, consult a professional as soon as possible.
What to do in case of infection
Sometimes it is a bit tricky to tell the difference between an infected tattoo and one that is healing properly, however, fortunately serious tattoo infections are not very common.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor and your tattoo artist:
- Severe pain
- Disproportionate swelling
- Appearance of pus
- Lumps (granuloma)
- Excessive bleeding
- Sunlight is painful (photosensitivity)
How to prevent infection
Starting by choosing the right parlour is extremely important. It must be licensed and hygienic. It is also important that you choose an expert artist, because this is the key to preventing infections.
Sometimes cheap is expensive. Paying a little extra could be the difference between happiness and infection.
Keep the following in mind:
- Tell your tattoo artist if you suffer from any medical conditions such as eczema, diabetes, HIV, hepatitis or haemophilia, as this increases the risk of complications.
Don't worry, this doesn't mean you won't get a tattoo, it simply means that your artist needs as much information as possible before any tattoo is done to take safety precautions. Honesty is paramount.
- If you are on medication, consult your doctor before getting a tattoo.
Tips on how to take care of your tattoo
If it's your first tattoo, you may be feeling a little stressed about its aftercare, but don't panic. These simple tricks will make your new tattoo heal quickly and your ink will look amazing.
1) Don't re-wrap
Once you have removed the initial cover of your tattoo, clean, dry, moisturise and allow your skin to breathe in fresh air. Re-wrapping it will create a lot of moisture leading to unwanted effects.
2) Lukewarm water
Lukewarm water is very helpful for the gradual healing of the new tattoo. The last thing we want is for you to accidentally burn yourself - remember it is an open wound and you must be careful.
3) The perfect lotion
A suitable product is essential to avoid infections that may cause further or irreversible damage - always consult your tattoo artist. Avoid 100% petroleum based products such as petroleum jelly as they can cause the ink to fade.
4) Don't apply too much lotion
Just as we advise you not to cover the tattoo again, too much lotion can create a very humid skin. Applying a thin layer evenly to cover the tattoo is enough.
5) No scented lotions
When cleaning your tattoo, make sure that the lotion you use is not scented, as some of its chemical compounds may react with your ink, causing allergies or slowing down healing time.
6) Let the dead skin peel off on its own
Don't try to rush the skin's natural healing cycle. Allow time for the scab to form and fall off naturally. This will ensure that the skin underneath is completely healthy.
When the initial healing is complete, the best you can do to avoid discolouration is to keep it permanently healed. A little daily sunscreen will do the trick.
Caring for your new ink may seem overwhelming at first, but if you can handle the pain of a tattoo, you can get through anything.
If you want your tattoo to look its best, you must commit to daily care.
Follow your artist's advice at all times and don't overlook any of their recommendations - this will guarantee that your tattoo stays looking its best over time.
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