New Tattoo Aftercare Guide: Do’s and Don’ts After Getting a Tattoo
Do’s and Don’ts for New Tattoo Aftercare
Getting a new tattoo is an exciting experience. However, caring for the tattoo properly during the healing process is essential for it to turn out well. Follow these dos and don’ts for new tattoo aftercare to help your new ink heal smoothly without complications.
Overview of New Tattoo Aftercare
A new tattoo is essentially an open wound, so treat it gently like one. The aftercare period lasts 2-6 weeks as the skin regenerates and the tattoo integrates permanently. Proper cleaning, hydration, and protection of your fresh tattoo prevent infection, fading, and scarring during the vulnerable healing phase.
Work closely with your tattoo artist to understand their recommended aftercare routine. Always follow your artist’s specific instructions.
The Do’s of New Tattoo Aftercare
Here are key things you should do when caring for a new tattoo:
1. Keep it covered initially
Leave the original bandage or plastic wrap on for at least 2 hours afterward. This protects the open tattoo.
2. Wash it gently
Gently clean the tattoo 2-3 times per day using a mild fragrance-free soap and your clean hands. Avoid abrasive washcloths. Rinse thoroughly with warm water and pat dry with a clean towel. Don’t soak the tattoo.
3. Apply a thin ointment layer
Use a fragrance-free ointment like Aquaphor as directed by your artist to keep it moist as it heals. Too much ointment can clog pores.
4. Follow all artist instructions
Stick to your artist’s directions on ointment, washing, bandaging, and activity restrictions. Their advice is tailored to your new tattoo.
5. Keep it loose
Wear loose natural fabrics that won’t stick to the tattoo. Tight clothing can pull off scabs and disrupt healing.
6. Protect it from the sun
Keep the tattoo completely shaded from sun exposure which can cause fading. Use a high-SPF sunscreen once fully healed.
7. Watch for signs of infection
Look for spreading redness, discharge, fever, or red streaks, and contact your doctor if concerned about infection.
The Don’ts of New Tattoo Aftercare
Here are things you should avoid doing to a new healing tattoo:
1. Don’t over-wash
Washing too aggressively can damage healing skin. Gently clean using your hands only.
2. Don’t pick scabs
Let scabs naturally flake off as the skin heals. Picking can pull out ink and cause scarring.
3. Don’t submerge in water
Avoid baths, pools, and hot tubs until the tattoo fully seals and heals after 2 weeks. These can introduce bacteria.
4. Don’t use lotions or creams
Stick to fragrance-free ointments recommended by your artist during the first 2 weeks. Lotions can irritate.
5. Don’t wear restrictive clothing
Tight clothing can adhere to the tattoo and disrupt healing. Wear loose breathable fabrics.
6. Don’t be exposed to the sun
The Sun can cause the tattoo to blister, scar, and fade. Keep it completely covered outdoors.
7. Don’t ignore the artist’s advice
Follow your tattoo artist’s recommendations, not unreliable internet sources. Your artist knows best.
8. Don’t miss warning signs
Watch for signs of infection or allergic reaction and promptly contact your doctor if concerned.
Healing Process: What to Expect While Healing
Here is an overview of what to expect and how to care for your new tattoo at each stage:
1. Days 1-6: Swelling, redness, plasma oozing, and scabbing begin as the skin starts healing. Cleanse gently, apply ointment as directed, and keep covered with a bandage.
2. Days 7-13: Scabs form and the tattoo looks cloudy and dull during the peeling phase. Stop using ointment when the skin closes. Gently wash and let scabs fall off on their own.
3. Weeks 2-4: Itching begins as a layer of skin forms over the tattoo. Use a fragrance-free lotion if dryness occurs. Do not scratch or pick scabs.
4. Months 1-2: Tattoo looks hazy but doesn’t scab. The top layer feels healed but deeper skin still needs care and sun protection. Apply unscented lotion daily.
5. Months 2-6: The tattoo shows signs of being fully set in the dermis. Use sunscreen and moisturizer to maintain it. Avoid abrasive scrubs or chemicals in the area.
What to Use for Aftercare
Recommended products to aid proper tattoo healing include:
- Fragrance-free antibacterial soaps like Dial Gold or Provon
- Unscented lotion like Lubriderm, Eucerin, or Vanicream
- Ointments like Aquaphor, A&D, or petroleum jelly
You want to avoid heavily scented products, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, Neosporin, or coconut oil which can irritate skin.
Signs of Infection
Contact your doctor immediately if you notice:
- Expanding redness and warm skin at the tattoo site
- Discharge that is yellow, green, or foul-smelling
- Fever, chills, fatigue, nausea
- Red streaks extending from the tattoo
- Excessive pain and swelling
Infections require urgent antibiotic treatment.
Caring properly for your new tattoo is crucial. Follow a professional tattoo artist’s instructions or consult for new tattoo aftercare with well-known tattoo shops such as Sentient Tattoo Collective (a walk-in tattoo shop in Tempe Arizona). Avoid picking, scrubbing, or sun exposure during healing. With the proper gentle cleansing, hydration, and protection, your tattoo will heal beautifully and remain vibrant for life.