In this day and age, having a tattoo or multiple tattoos is fairly common. If you don’t have one, you are now in the minority, or so it seems anyway. However, each tattoo artist seems to think a little bit differently when it comes to aftercare. This can make caring for your new tattoo confusing and frustrating. Who’s advice should you follow? For the most part, the artist that you see will steer you in the right direction. If you’d like a more in depth guide for tattoo care, we’ve put that together for you in this weeks blog.
When your tattoo is complete, your artist will clean and cover it with some sort of dressing. It is very important to leave the dressing on, and resist the urge to take it off for a couple hours. If your tattoo isn’t covered, it could be exposed to airborne bacteria, and possibly get infected. There are a couple different types of dressings. Most commonly, your tattoo will be wrapped with an ABD wound dressing. ABD wound dressings are thick and don’t stick to the tattoo, but they also allow your tattoo to breathe. On the other hand, some artists prefer to cover fresh tattoos with plastic wrap. Applying plastic wrap is very easy, and creates a good barrier to block any bacteria. The downside is that plastic wrap is not breathable, and increases the temperature creating an environment that bacteria loves, should your tattoo get exposed.
Out in the Open
Next, you’ll need to carefully remove the dressing or bandage. Keep in mind that you should only remove it after it’s been on for at least 2 hours. The maximum amount of time you should leave a bandage on ranges from 4-6 hours. Although, if your tattoo is wrapped with plastic wrap you should definitely not keep it on longer than 2 hours. To remove your bandage, soak with warm water. This will help loosen the bandage and insure it doesn’t stick to your skin.
Now, washing your freshly exposed tattoo is a must. Make sure you only use non scented liquid soap, and never anything with harsh chemicals. A new tattoo will gradually seep blood, plasma, and ink which needs to be washed off. Steer clear of anything abrasive such as a sponge or loofah, these things are too rough and can harbor bacteria. Use your hands, non-scented liquid soap, and lukewarm water to gently wash your tattoo. It may be easier to wash in the shower if the tattoo is fairly large. Keep in mind however, that you should try and keep the tattoo out of the stream of water and wash it indirectly instead. Once washed, do not dry your tattoo by rubbing with a towel or you could irritate it. Use paper towels to gently pat the area, until dry.
In order to have a tattoo that heals properly, you need to make sure it stays hydrated. If it’s too dry, it will scab over too quickly. Again, find an ointment that is scent free, as scented products will irritate your tattoo. Make sure to apply a thin layer of ointment, you don’t want to suffocate the tattoo. You should reapply ointment after each wash, about twice a day. After a few days, your tattoo will start to peel at which point you should switch to lotion. There are specialty ointments and lotions on the market specifically for tattoos, which work great. If you don’t know which products you should use, ask your artist what they recommend.
A Couple of Don’ts
Now that you know how to care for your tattoo, let’s go over some things you’ll want to avoid. First of all, do not, under any circumstance scratch your tattoo while it is healing. In addition, don’t pick at the scab as this could cause your tattoo to be lighter in some areas. Also, try to avoid soaking your tattoo. This means no swimming or soaking in a bath while your tattoo is still fresh. Do not put your tattoo in direct sunlight for at least 3-4 weeks. UV rays could cause blisters and may even bleach out some of the color. After it’s fully healed, always protect your ink with sunscreen. Of course, you’ll also need to make sure you wear clothing that isn’t too tight. Loose fitting clothes are best during the healing process, as they won’t rub or pull on your tattoo.