Taking care of your new tattoo…
Just a few pointers on the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Your artist will wrap your fresh tattoo in plastic before you leave the shop. This is to shield your skin from any contaminants while your pores are still wide open. Treat it as you would any open wound. Try not to make any direct contact with any surface that may contain dirt, bacteria, viruses, or even disease. Be especially careful in public places.
Keep the plastic on for at least 45 minutes, but no longer than 4-5 hours.
Wash your hands thoroughly before removing the plastic, and wash your tattoo with warm water and soap. Anti-bacterial is best, but most contain dyes and/or fragrance which can be an irritant. If you find this to be an issue, switch to a mild, fragrance free soap (baby wash for sensitive skin is a good bet). Be sure to cleanse all excess ink and remaining petroleum jelly, blood, and plasma from your skin.
Gently pat your tattoo dry with a clean towel and let it air out for about 10-15 minutes.
Apply a VERY minimal layer of Aquaphor or A & D ointment to your tattoo, rubbing it in well. It’s going to be sore and hurt, but it will help circulate the blood flow which promotes healing. IMPORTANT: Too much ointment will clog your pores and can actually hinder the healing process. It can also cause small red bumps to breakout, which oftentimes people confuse as an infection or allergic reaction. If you feel you have put too much on, take a clean paper towel and blot away the excess.
Reapply the ointment as needed, approximately 3 times a day for the first 2-3 days. If possible, re-wash your tattoo prior to each application of ointment. In any case, make sure your hands are freshly washed and clean.
After the first 2-3 days you can switch to a mild, fragrance free lotion of your choice. Apply as needed, about 3 times a day or whenever your tattoo starts to feel dry, tight, or itchy. Use lotion ONLY for the next 2 WEEKS.
THINGS TO AVOID:
Prolonged exposure to the sun. You cannot use sunscreen until your tattoo is fully healed. (2 weeks)
Direct contact with publicly used exercise equipment.
Swimming and soaking (of any kind). Showers only for 2 weeks.
Picking and scratching at your tattoo. This can lead to scabs, scars, and color loss.
THINGS TO EXPECT:
Excess ink “seepage.” Your skin will push out some of the ink during the healing process and is just your body doing its job. It will not affect the outcome of the tattoo’s appearance once healed, BUT it can stain your clothes and bedsheets, so be warned!
Getting stuck. If, for instance you wake up and find that your tattoo is stuck to your, say shirt, DO NOT pull it off! Soak it off under some running water. If you have a larger sized tattoo in an area that is covered by clothing most of the day/night, be sure to put some extra (just a LITTLE) ointment/lotion on, as your clothing will absorb a majority of it.
Swelling, pain, and sometimes even bruising. Certain areas of the body, and on certain types of tissue these things can be extremely common biological responses to any injury. A tattoo is no different. Advil, or any type of over the counter NSAID can be taken (as directed) to help with the pain and swelling. Tattoos on your lower extremities (esp. feet) benefit by elevating them whenever possible.
Peeling and itching. Fresh tattoos feel similar to a bad sunburn, and heal similarly as well. During the healing process, the top layer of skin will die and shed.
Questions, compliments, and conversation starters. ”Yes, it did hurt.” ”Thank you, please don’t touch it.” ”Go check out Massive Tattoo Studio, here’s their card.”