Vol.2, No.4

Tips on caring for a new tattoo

Aftercare of your new tattoo is important in maintaining the health and color.

A large back tattoo
Photo Credit: Karina Tischlinger
Aftercare for your tattoo is important to prevent infections, loss of color, and scarring. Proper aftercare instructions should come first from your tattoo artist. The life, health, and vibrancy will depend on the after care you give it within the healing stage.

How to Care for Your New Tattoo:

1. Carefully remove the bandage approximately two to five hours after the completion of the tattoo. If the gauze sticks to your skin, use some water to help remove it without causing any wounding.

2. Wash the area thoroughly with antibacterial soap and warm water using only your fingers. Do not use any cloths or other materials.

3. Gently pat dry with a towel. Avoid rubbing! Let air dry completely after patting it with a towel.

4. Be sure to apply only a small amount of Bacitracin or A & D (vitamin) ointment. Too much ointment will heighten the risk that bacteria will grow there, and not allow oxygen to the area. Oxygen is extremely important in the natural healing of the tattoo. Too little ointment will cause the area to dry out, crack and bleed. Rub the ointment into the skin well.

5. Clean four to five times per day for about seven to ten days, or until the wound is healed.

Avoid soaking or submerging in water, such as swimming or taking baths, during the healing process. Doing so could result in color loss, scarring, or infection. Don't wear tight or restrictive clothing around the area, which will cut off much needed oxygen to the area. Tight clothing could also hold in any bacteria, possibly causing an infection. Your clothing touching the tattoo should be soft. You should also avoid exposing the tattoo to the sun. Too much sun exposure could cause your tattoo to lose some of its color. After the tattoo is healed, you will need to apply sunscreen before exposing it to the sun, but you can still expose it in moderation. This is necessary for the life of your tattoo. If swelling occurs, you can use ice packs or take some ibuprofen to ease the swelling. Avoid rubbing, scratching, or picking at any scabs that may form. The scabs are a part of the healing process, and will eventually fall off on their own, usually in a one to three weeks. Your skin may peel or scab during the healing stage, which is normal. Just allow the process to take place, and it will pass. Some color will fade during this process, but should return after the area is completely healed. After a few weeks the area should be free of scabs and peeling. You should still continue the standard cleaning and apply ointment to keep the area from drying out.

Remember, the most important thing for the proper healing of your tattoo is to maintain moisture, and allow oxygen to the area at the same time. If you experience any reaction that may seem abnormal, contact your tattoo artist for further instruction. If your tattoo artist isn't available for some time, it may be best to contact your doctor or other medical professional.

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