Tattoo Aftercare Instructions: How to Heal a New Tattoo
Tattoos heal differently depending on many factors. Overall health, strength of the immune system, emotional and physical stress levels, and more can all be factors. Sensitive skin might take longer to heal and experience scabbing and peeling more than other areas. Most tattoos completely heal in 4-6 weeks.
The most important thing to remember is that a tattoo is an open wound and needs to be kept clean, free of germs, and moisturized. Read on to learn everything you need to know about tattoo aftercare.
General Tattoo Aftercare: Step-by-Step Instructions
Remove and discard the bandage/wrap in 2 hours or once you get home. DO NOT take off the wrap in public!
- Wash with warm water, and with clean hands, gently lather the tattoo with Dial Gold Antibacterial Unscented Liquid Hand Soap.
DO NOT use a washrag, loofah, or anything abrasive.
DO NOT spray the tattoo directly from the faucet or showerhead. Let the water run down your skin so the tattoo isn’t damaged.
- Allow your tattoo to air dry or pat it with a clean towel or paper towel. DO NOT RUB!
- For the first 3 days, apply a very thin coat of Aquaphor.
- On the 4th day, switch to Lubriderm. You want to moisturize your new tattoo, but also let it breathe, so less is best.
- Repeat steps 2-4 twice daily (morning and night) for 2 weeks.
Your tattoo should be completely healed in 4-6 weeks.
What to Expect While Your Tattoo is Healing
WEEK 1: Don’t worry if your tattoo is sore and red immediately after your procedure. It’s common for a tattoo to feel like a sunburn. It might ooze some ink, blood, and plasma for about 24 hours. Carefully following the aftercare tips above will ensure your tattoo heals properly.
WEEK 2: Your tattoo might peel, flake, and become itchy. DO NOT PICK, RUB, OR SCRATCH IT! The scab and flakes must come off naturally so you don’t cause excess irritation or pull ink out. The scabs/flakes will be the same color as your tattoo, making it look like the actual tattoo is coming off – but it’s not!
Tattoo Aftercare Products
There are only 3 products we recommend.
- Dial Gold Antibacterial Unscented Liquid Hand Soap
- Aquaphor (if recommended by your artist)
- Lubriderm Unscented Lotion (any unscented lotion would work)
There is an additional product some artists use when it comes to protecting a new tattoo – Recovery Aftercare Bandage.
Recovery Aftercare Bandage
There are many variations of this product: Saniderm, SecondSkin, Tegaderm, etc. After trying many different brands, we at Chapter One Tattoo use DermShield Recovery. If used properly, Recovery Aftercare bandages will also seal in your body’s natural fluids and plasma to help your tattoo heal. This stimulates the growth of new cells, reducing healing time and keeping the tattoo looking sharp.
Once the Recovery Aftercare bandage is applied, you can shower, go to work, and continue doing everyday activities with minimal discomfort. The breathability of the bandage means you can wear the same one for several days as your skin heals.
Recovery Aftercare Bandage Steps
Leave the Recovery Aftercare bandage on for 3-5 days. If it starts leaking or tears come back in to get it replaced.
After 3-5 days, remove and discard the Recovery bandage. Then wash with warm water and begin to follow the general aftercare instructions based on the day of bandage removal.
How Long Does A Tattoo Take To Heal?
The length of time it takes for a tattoo to heal depends on the person and the tattoo. Following the aftercare instructions and taking care not to scratch or pick scabs will help the healing process. Even if it appears your tattoo is fully healed after a couple weeks, it can take months for the skin below to heal, which is why it’s so important to keep up with the aftercare.
Tattoo Aftercare Precautions
For 2 weeks after you get your tattoo, no pools, oceans, baths, jacuzzis, saunas, etc. Not only are these places breeding grounds for bacteria, but saltwater and chlorine can fade your tattoo. Try to take quick showers, and only touch your tattoo with clean hands. Avoid letting others touch it while it is still healing.
It’s fine to work out or go to the gym, just don’t let your new tattoo come into contact with any equipment. Most tattoo infections are picked up in public places like these.
After your tattoo is healed, you can go back to your normal daily routine, but keep in mind that exposure to the sun can age and fade a tattoo. Use sunscreen or sunblock often.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your new tattoo, reach out to us.
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