Everything You Need to Know About Tattoo After Care
At Stick Tattoo, we care about the health and longevity of your tattoos. We take great pride in our work, and hope your tattoo will last a lifetime. But, there are a number of steps that you must take to help ensure the proper healing and care for your tattoo. Remember, the healing process is almost as important as the application process.
Below is a list of the steps for the best tattoo aftercare:
After your artist is finished with your tattoo, he will go over specific instructions on how to care for your tattoo. He will know which aftercare methods work best for his work and give advice on how to ensure the tattoo heals quickly and ensures the quality of the work.
Wash Your Hands.
Before any of the following steps, we strongly recommend to wash your hands before touching your tattoo to help prevent any infection or bacteria contact in the open skin.
Removing the Bandage.
Depending on the customer and specific tattoo, you will leave with your tattoo wrapped for your protection. We recommend leaving this bandage on for 1-3 hours and then removing. This will help ensure the proper protection immediately following your tattoo. You should not cover the tattoo again.
Washing and Treating Your Tattoo.
After your take your bandage off, make sure you gently clean your tattoo. Using warm water, gently clean the tattoo using an unscented, antibacterial soap and gently rub the tattoo. This will help clean your tattoo from excess blood, plasma, or ink that may collect in the bandage. Please note, it is fairly common, and normal, for the tattoo to bleed during, and following the appointment. You can then dry your tattoo by patting the area with a clean towel. We do not recommend rubbing the area to dry.
You will want to continue to wash your tattoo three times a day for the first week following your appointment.
Using Tattoo Ointment.
Immediately after washing your new tattoo, you will want to follow with a very light application of A&D, Bacitracin, or tattoo aftercare ointment—but not Neosporin or Vaseline. While these may be wonderful products for cuts and scrapes, they are not beneficial for tattoos. Many people also have allergic reactions to Neosporin, which causes little red bumps. When the bumps go away, so does the ink, and you end up with a polka-dotted tattoo. The lotion should be just thick enough to coat the tattooed area.
At Stick Tattoo, we offer a few ointments specifically created for tattoo aftercare. Because a tattoo should be treated like a wound, it is important to ensure you are adding proper ointment to aid in its healing.
Ointment should be used for the first five days following your appointment.
After the first five days pass, you will want to switch from using a medicated ointment to an unscented moisturizing lotion to help keep the skin soft and moist. You will see that the tattoo begins to dry out, and skin will peel. This is natural, but keeping the tattoo moisturized with lotion will help aid in the healing, as well as reduce the itchy-feeling that often occurs. You will want to moisturize your tattoo three times per day for the next three weeks.
Never scratch your tattoo or pick at any scabs that may form during the healing process!
Showering and Swimming.
Getting your new tattoo wet is okay. However, we strongly suggest you avoid soaking your tattoo, such as in a bathtub. We also strongly advise that you avoid any swimming in pools, lakes, hot tubs or the ocean for the first three weeks following your tattoo. Not only is there risk of bacteria, but submerging your tattoo in water can cause serious damage to the tattoo’s appearance.
Peeling, Scabbing and Itching.
After a few days, you will probably notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing on your new tattoo. A little scabbing is normal, and there’s no need to panic. To help treat a scab, you will want to apply a warm, moist compress to the scabs for about five minutes once or twice a day, and the scabs will eventually come off on their own. Please do not apply ointment or lotion to a softened scab, but rather, wait for it to dry.
If you are new to getting tattooed, you will notice that your tattoo will start to itch as it heals. We often describe the healing process of a tattoo to that of a sunburn. Whatever you do, please do not pick or scratch your tattoo! If the skin itches, slap it. Your tattoo is almost healed – you do not want to ruin it now!
Often, a tattoo area may swell following your tattoo, especially if there was a lot of coverage, or application to a specific area. This is also normal. Remember, your body views and treats a tattoo like a injury, so your natural immune system starts to work almost immediately. To help reduce swelling, you can apply a cold press to the swollen area. This can be as simple as a pack of frozen vegetables, or a cold washcloth. But please DO NOT apply ice, or the frozen compress directly to the skin, but rather wrap them in a clean cloth. Leave the cold compress on for approximately 30 minutes.
Protect Your Tattoo From The Sun.
While your tattoo is healing, we strongly suggest avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible. Sun will feel intensified and make your tattoo feel an intense burning sensation, similar to a sun burn.
Once your tattoo is healed, you should always protect it from the sun’s UV rays. These can fade and damage a brilliant tattoo very fast. You will want to make it a habit to protect your tattoo with sunblock anytime you plan to be outside for any length of time. This will go a long way in keeping your tattoo vibrant for many years.
For more advice on caring for your tattoo during summer months, click here to read our Summer Tattoo Care article.