Fresh tattoos require some specialized care to prevent infection and ensure the long-lasting integrity of the ink. This may cause a bit of anxiety but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have your tattoo on the road to healing in no time. Our sources for this information are reputable, award-winning tattoo artists we work closely within the area. Tattoo care is a personal decision and not everybody is the same; therefore, you should follow the instructions of your own artist for their recommended practices.
What you will need:
- Gentle, fragrance-free antibacterial cleanser such as H2Ocean Tattoo Aftercare Foam
- A clean, dry towel
- An ointment such as Aquatat Tattoo Aftercare Ointment, Aquaphor, A&D ointment, or bacitracin.
- Plastic wrap
- Medical tape
- Unscented lotion such as Tattoo Goo Aftercare Lotion for Tattoos. Before you leave the tattoo shop, your artist will likely cover your new art with plastic or a bandage – leave this on for up to two hours.
Now it’s time to get down to the business of cleaning. Wash your hands first. It is important that you do not introduce any bacteria into your fresh tattoo. Remove the plastic from your tattoo. If it does not come off easily, run it under some water. Do not submerge it, though.
Wash your tattoo with warm water and the cleanser of your choice. Do this gently with your hand. Never use anything abrasive like a wash cloth on your tattoo as this can cause additional irritation and harbor bacteria that can cause infection. Cleanse until your tattoo no longer feels slick and slimy then gently blot with a clean, dry towel. Do not rub! Remember, your tattoo will be very sore and sensitive so don’t aggressively clean it. Allow to air dry for about 15 minutes and apply ointment to the tattoo; blot away excess. NEVER apply ointment without cleaning the tattoo first – this traps in harmful bacteria that could cause an infection.
For the first two nights, wash as usual and cover with a piece of plastic wrap and tape it down. This will prevent irritation, plus protects your bed linens and clothes from stains. Wash it first thing in the morning as instructed above. If you prefer to leave it uncovered, wear old pajamas and utilize old bedsheets that you don’t care about. Your tattoo should stop oozing after a few days and you can just clean it prior to going to bed without taping it.
Repeat this process three times for the first few days. After that, wash it once or twice a day and cover with unscented lotion.
After a few days, your tattoo will begin to dry out and resemble a sunburn. It will peel and scab. Don’t fuss with your tattoo except for when you’re cleaning it because it can affect the sharpness of the ink lines. Be sure to wear loose clothing to avoid irritation.
Until it is completely healed (about 2 weeks, depending on size, placement, and how well you care for it), do not submerge your tattoo. Stay out of pools, baths, bodies of water such as lakes, oceans, rivers.
Avoid direct sunlight, as this can irritate your fresh tattoo. After the tattoo is healed, apply sunblock to protect your skin and the color. You don’t want all that artwork to fade
If you have any questions about the care of a tattoo, contact your artist. They are very knowledgeable and want you to have the best experience possible. They’ll ease your mind of any concerns.