All Dressed Up…
As tempting as it can be to remove the protective cover to look at the tattoo, the bandage or plastic wrap should stay on for at least an hour. The length of time will depend on the size and location of the tattoo.
This covering protects the open skin from bacteria, sunlight, and from rubbing against clothing. If you received your tattoo late in the evening, you may sleep with the dressings on. However, the following steps MUST be taken upon waking the next morning.
In the Wash…
Once the bandage comes off, you’ll probably notice fluid oozing from the tattoo. This is blood, plasma (the clear part of blood), and some extra ink. It’s normal. Your skin might also be red and sore. It might feel slightly warm to the touch. After thoroughly washing your hands, you can gently wash the tattoo gently with a mild antibacterial liquid hand soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, Dial or Softsoap, just no perfumed or exfoliating body washes) and wash it with very warm water (as hot as is comfortable).
Avoid submerging the tattoo in water or getting the tattoo wet during the first 2–4 weeks, except for when washing it. You can shower with your new tattoo, but do not soak your tattoo in any kind of water during the initial healing period. This means no swimming or hot tubs as well. Also avoid any scented products or shampoo/body washes coming into the tattoo.
NOTE - Be sure to remove all traces of ointment and plasma (the “slime”) until it feels normal to touch. Remember - Use your hands!
After washing, pat/dab the tattoo dry gently with paper towels and allow it to air-dry for up to an hour. It is best to wash the tattoo with clean fingers only and not a cloth or towel, which may irritate the skin and prematurely remove any scabs that may have formed. Cloth towels are also full of bacteria and dead skin cells. When the area is completely dry, leave it uncovered to allow the skin to breathe. Never scrub the tattoo with a towel or sponge.
NOTE: Please remember to wash your hands before and after all tattoo care with a mild antibacterial soap!
How often washing is necessary will vary depending on a person's activity levels and environment. Someone who is sitting in an air-conditioned office all day may only need to wash the tattoo once a day. But someone who is working in a hot or dirty environment and sweating may need to wash the tattoo more frequently. Washing the tattoo regularly but gently, especially after dirty or sweaty activities. Realize that consistent, obsessive washing is friction on your new tattoo.
NOTE: Excessive washing can also irritate or damage your tattoo due to much friction on the open skin.
Apply a small amount of moisturizing lotion (see below for recommended type) to the tattoo 1-2 times a day or as needed. You will know this as the tattoo will start to feel tight or dry. The lotion should be a very thin layer almost so that it is rubbed into the tattoo rather than rubbed on top. It is acting as a substitution for the natural moisture for your skin. The lotion should not be oily or excessive. The ointment should not be slathered or sticky on your tattoo.
Your tattoo should heal like a sunburn, continue using the moisturizing lotion as needed until the tattoo has completely peeled. This takes a different amount of time for everyone, as well as for different areas of the skin, but most tattoos peel within 7-10 days for black and grey and 2 weeks for full color.
NOTE: Using a moisturizer that is kept in the refrigerator may also soothe itchy or irritated skin.
Moisturizing Lotions for tattoo aftercare…Be smart when selecting a moisturizer. Use a moisturizer that allows the skin to breathe, as clogged pores can cause an infection. It is important not to use any scented creams or lotions. Harsh chemicals can irritate the wound and damage the tattooed skin. Make sure the area is completely dry before applying aftercare moisturizer, as trapping excess moisture under the skin can lead to irritation and heat rash.
alcohol-free healing ointments, such as Eucerin, Curel, Aveeno, Lubriderm, or their generics
Redemption Tattoo ointment
It is NOT recommended that you use A&D ointment because of its high petroleum content.
First Couple of Days/ First Week…
For the first couple of days, the tattooed skin may feel warm to the touch and have a reddish appearance. The colors may also appear very bright against the rest of the skin. The tattoo will become less vibrant as the healing process continues. As the new top layer of skin (epidermis) beings to heal, your tattoo may look whitish, shiny or wrinkly. Any redness or mild swelling usually goes away near the end of the first week.
The chance of infection is reduced once the outer layers of skin have healed, as there is no open wound for bacteria to infect. Moisturizing regularly in the months following the tattoo will help keep it looking bright and clear. Protecting the tattoo from the sun with clothing while it is healing, and applying sunscreen after it has healed, is especially important in the first few months.
Once the scab falls off and the tattoo is smooth to the touch, it will be ok for you to shave, swim, etc.
You should avoid using sunscreen on a tattoo until it is fully healed, as this can clog the pores and trap bacteria. Avoid tanning salons and direct sun exposure for at least 3 weeks. After the initial healing period, ALWAYS protect your tattoo with high SPF sunblock. While healing, covering the tattoo with clothing or a bandage whenever it might be exposed to the sun.
You can also drink plenty of water to help keep the skin healthy.
Many people will purchase neoprene sleeve to wear in sun to cover their tattoos whiles working outside (after it is fully healed).
You are Normal...
Your tattoo is going to peel. DO NOT PICK AT THE PEELING SKIN. This can pull away ink and cause further damage to the area, which could in-turn create more scabbing, slow down healing times and increase the risk of infection.
It is going to be itchy. Scratch around or above, but never on your tattoo.
The urge to touch is normal. BIG NO, NO, NO with dirty hands, dogs, cats, kids…. Guard your tattoo!
In forgetting that the sun is out there to burn your tattoo. Do NOT become sunburned. Yikes! That just hurts to type.
It may take three to four months for the lower layers to completely heal. By the end of your third month, the tattoo should look as bright and vivid as intended.
Things to Remember...
Please remember your tattoo is an open wound and treat it accordingly.
Also, please keep in mind that ignoring proper aftercare can damage and affect the way your tattoo heals.
Sometimes your body rejects the ink or the location makes it hard for ink to stay in the skin. Remember that we want you to be completely happy with your tattoo. If you need a touch up, please contact us. We are happy to schedule an appointment to do a touch up. They are free within the first year of the tattoo.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your healing, please contact us! While we deal with the healing of tattoos often, we are not doctors, and can only give guidelines on tattoo care, not medical advice. If your tattoo develops any type of red discharge during healing, do not hesitate to see a doctor