Everything you should know about Tattoo Aftercare: Step by Step Guide
Did you just get a new tattoo recently? If this is your first tattoo, you may have many queries in your mind about the tattoo aftercare. You do not really want your tattoo to fade or get infected, resulting in a bad experience on your first time. So, how do you actually take care of your new tattoo? Even though we already have a blog post listing some of the best tattoo aftercare tips, here is a comprehensive post about a complete tattoo aftercare guide for healing new tattoos effectively and safely.
Your tattoo is not just a piece of art you adorn your body with but also a medical procedure. You need to ensure that the tattoo artist uses hygienic and sanitary tools during the process. Check out our comprehensive guide on setting up a tattoo station as a checklist to understand what needs to be present at a tattoo station to ensure the safety and hygiene of both the customer and the tattoo artist.
Figuring out the right aftercare tips can get tricky when you have multiple nosy friends, colleagues, and family members advising you for free with different tactics and, even worse, home remedies! Hence, let's decode the real facts about tattoo aftercare and understand the entire process of healing your new tattoo.
What can you expect with your first new tattoo?
If this is your first tattoo, you can see some changes in your tattoo, which can startleyou. But, don't panic. Here's a short list of what you can expect with your first new tattoo, which is completely normal and healthy.
#1 - Your tattoo might be swollen
When you remove the bandage from your new tattoo, you can expect it to be slightly swollen, red, bloody, or even bruised.
However, not to worry since this is temporary and normal. A tattoo needle pierces your skin apparently 3,000 times per minute. It is simply a body's reaction to sudden needles and the foreign ink, which will disappear in just a couple of days.
#2 - The area gets really messy
You may find different types of fluid oozing out of your new tattoos, such as blood, clear plasma, puss, lymphatic fluid, and even ink! Again, these are just the signs your body is dealing with the sudden attack from the needles, and your cells are working to repair them gradually.
Even if your tattoo doesn't look the most pleasing or great during the first few days, you just need to trust the process since it definitely gets better over time.
#3 - Scabbing and Itching
You can expect a bit of scabbing, itching, or even flaking of the particular area. Scabs are just a protective layer of your body that covers the fresh wound. It eliminates the risk of contact of your wound with debris, bacteria, or germs.
If you see certain scabs forming on your skin, it's a good sign. It indicates that your tattoo is healing properly. Also, don't worry about the itching since it should only last a few days. However, avoid scratching the area. Else you may end up doing worse than good.
#4 - Body reactions
After getting a new tattoo, your body may feel slightly under the weather. You may get colds and coughs that are again very normal and a sign that your tattoo is healing healthy.
It is just the response to the stress you have put your body into with the needles and the foreign ink. Needless to worry, since you should be fine in just a few days!
Lastly, the more often you get a tattoo, the easier the process gets.
How to take off the bandage and clean your new tattoo?
After your tattoo is covered with a bandage for a few hours, you now need to take it off in the following process.
Step 1: Sanitize your hands with an antibacterial soap. Avoid any fragrances or scrubs in the process.
Step 2: Slowly remove the bandage and the tape. If you find the bandage sticking to your tattoo, slightly wet it with lukewarm water, and it should gently slide off.
Step 3: Form a lather on your hands with an antibacterial and fragrance-free soap. Do not use any washcloths, bath towels, or sponges here.
Step 4: Gently rub the lather in circular motions with your clean hands until all the ointment and the plasma cleans off.
Step 5: Rinse your tattoo gently until it is clean. Don't bring it directly under the tap.
Step 6: Pat dry with a soft and clean towel or paper towel. Let it air dry. Proceed with your regular tattoo ointment.
Avoid contact with any surface since the fresh wound is open and prone to get infected with dirt and bacteria while you take off the bandage.
Note: Applying too much ointment can hinder the healing process of your tattoo. Apply a very thin coat and keep space for your tattoo to breathe.
How to take care of your new tattoo day by day?
The length of your tattoo healing process depends on how intricate your tattoo is and its size. The first few days can make or break your new tattoo since it has a high risk of infections. Let's check out how you should take care of your new tattoo in the first few days.
After returning from the tattoo studio with the bandage and plastic wrap, remove it and clean it as per the steps mentioned above.
As mentioned earlier, once you have removed the bandage and cleaned it, you may notice some fluid oozing out.
Day 2 to 3
Your tattoo may look dull and cloudy today, but it is completely normal. You may notice a scab forming on top of the tattoo. Wash your tattoo about once or twice a day as per the steps mentioned above. Apply an alcohol-free and fragrance-free moisturizer.
Day 4 to 6
You can now find the redness fading gradually and thin scabs on your new tattoo. However, don't pick at the scabs since they can cause scarring. Continue washing your tattoo twice a day and top it off with a good moisturizer (apply thin layer only).
Day 6 to 14
You might observe the scabs to be thick and hard by now. It may even start flaking off. Again, don't pick them or pull them off. Your skin may feel itchy now. A good moisturizer can help in alleviating the itch.
Note: If you still find your tattoo red and swollen, you should get your tattoo checked with your tattoo artist since it might indicate an infection.
Day 15 to 30
You may observe big flakes going off your skin, and the scabs should be gone as well. However, you can still see some dead skin but don't scrub them. It will eventually clear up naturally.
Keep the tattooed area moisturized since it is prone to dryness right now.
By the third month, the tattoo should look bright and vivid as Day 1, and you can finally see your tattoo completely healed!
How to avoid your tattoo getting infected?
New tattoos are highly prone to infection. Here's how you can keep infections and scars at bay.
- Only trust the best tattoo studios that are hygienic, experienced, and licensed.
- Don't fall into the prey of cheaper tattoos since cheaper is not always better and can result in sudden infections.
- Disclose to your tattoo artist about any underlying or previous medical conditions such as eczema, HIV, diabetes, Hepatitis, Haemophilia before getting the tattoo.
- Consult with a doctor before getting a new tattoo if you are under certain medications.
Signs your tattoo is infected
Only 0.5-6% of tattoos get infected in adults. However, even though you have taken all the required steps to prevent your tattoo from getting infected, you should still know the signs that can indicate a tattoo infection to keep you prepared for the next steps and understand when to see a doctor for your tattoo. Let's check the signs of a tattoo infection.
- Intense pain
- Firm bumps(Granulomas)
- Excessive bleeding
- Pus draining
- Worse swelling
- Continuous fever, chills, and sweat
- Photosensitivity (if the area pains with exposure to sunlight)
Dos and Don’ts after getting a new tattoo
Now that we have the basics clear let's check out some Dos and Don’ts after getting a new tattoo. This will help in healing your tattoo faster with lesser chances of getting it infected.
- Use only clean towels, bedding, and clothes during the healing process
- Apply fragrance-free sunscreen to your tattoo.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent friction on the wound
- Wash the tattoo every day, especially after sweaty activities
- Apply only a thin layer of moisturizer
- Apply a cold compress to help with the itching
- Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water during the healing process
- Always use cold to lukewarm water while washing your tattoo
- Always consult your tattoo artist before trying out any new product on your tattoo
- Prevent swimming, submerging the tattoo underwater at least for the first 2 weeks.
- Avoid putting your tattoo under direct sunlight for at least the first 2 weeks.
- Don't let your tattoo skin dry out. Keep moisturizing.
- Do not apply the ointment on a wet or damp surface.
Common tattoo myths busted
Even though tattoos have become widely popular by now, a few common myths still revolve around the industry. Let's bust some of the common tattoo myths today!
#1 - Donating blood with a tattoo is not allowed
You can always donate blood after one year of being tattooed without any hassle.
#2 - You cannot get an MRI done with a tattoo
Modern ink has evolved significantly. It no longer has high levels of metals that may hinder MRIs.
#3 - Applying more ointment can make the tattoo heal faster
Applying more ointment to your tattoo can suffocate and clog it, hindering the healing process.
#4 - Drinking alcohol before getting a tattoo can reduce the pain
No. It is always recommended not to consume alcohol or drugs before getting a tattoo since these ingredients can thin your blood and cause problems during the tattooing process.
#5 - Tattoos will turn green and blue whenever you get old
The quality of ink matters a lot in the health of your tattoo. Modern inks are high quality and durable. However, you can always get touch-ups to make your tattoo even better.
Should I use coconut oil on my new tattoo?
No. coconut oil can clog the wound, resulting in skin issues like redness, irritation, or even infection.
Can I use Vaseline for my new tattoo?
It is best to avoid petroleum products since these can also cause clogging of the tattoo and prevent the healing process.
What to do if my tattoo is bleeding?
A slight bit of bleeding from the new tattoo in the first few days is completely normal. If the tattoo bleeding persists for more than a week, you might need to see a doctor.
The complete process of tattoo aftercare can seem overwhelming. However, if you combat the first few days with the right steps, you can get through the process in a breeze. All you need is a determination to not scratch or pick the wound and patience to keep going with the everyday tattoo aftercare routine. Remember to always sanitize your hands, maintain hygiene during the cleaning process, and be consistent with the prescribed ointments.
Have any other points in mind which can help with the tattoo healing process? Comment them down for our readers!
Don't miss to follow our social media handles since you can also find some really important insights about everything related to tattoos.
Stay tuned to The TattooPedia website, and we'll be back with another insightful post about tattoos soon.