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These aftercare suggestions are not written in stone and are guidelines, not a prescribed course of care. I can not be responsible for your actions, nor are these guidelines a sure fire way of avoiding trouble during your healing period. I make no guarantees written or implied, you are free to do with this information as you wish at your own risk. You are responsible for your own tattoo aftercare.
Please keep in mind that healing time and degrees of trauma recovery vary greatly depending on many factors. Examples are an individual person’s skin type and immune system, the tattoo applied, the artist applying the tattoo, equipment and inks used, and of course degree of aftercare. Remember, what works for someone else, may not work for you. Use common sense and good hygiene and you’ll be OK.
Remove bandage after 3 hours and wash blood, ointment, plasma thoroughly. You may have to soap up your tattoo twice the first time you wash after removing bandage.
Wash your tattoo 2/3 times a day for 7/9 days. Gently wash your tattoo with a non-scented antibacterial hand soap(“Dial” “Softsoap”). Always make sure you wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial hand soap first before handling your tattoo.
DO NOT use a wash cloth, loafa or scrubber. Gently lather antibacterial hand soap over your tattoo with clean fingertips. Rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with a clean lint free towel or quality paper towel. I like Bounties. Don’t skimp on the paper towels, it’s worth the extra few bucks. Much better than the cheap paper that will fall apart and leave paper fibers on your tattoo. Don’t be cheap! Allow a minimum of 30 minutes to air dry.
And keep your grubby hands off your tattoo. Unless you are washing your tattoo or applying ointment. There is no other reason for your hands to come in contact with your tattoo while it heals. Wash tattoo 3 times per day(morning, afternoon, night) for 7 to 8 days or until scabs fall off. After which you may return to washing your tattoo once a day, but still be gentle.
Washing your tattoo will kill bacteria collected throughout the day and lightly moisturize your scabs. It is the most important part of your aftercare, more important than ointment. You can skip on ointment, but you can’t skip on washing!
Remember, tattooing causes trauma to the skin(needles poking). You are healing an injury, treat it as such. Allow your tattoo to air dry for 30 minutes to an hour or longer if it appears to be oozing(sweating) or moist. Plasma oozing is normal, it is your body’s natural defense against infection. Oozing usually occurs within the first 24 hours of initial tattooing. Make sure your tattoo is dry before dressing or going to bed. If you find your clothing or linens have dried “stuck” to your tattoo, DO NOT PULL IT OFF. Wet the cloth to loosen dried plasma and gently remove clothing from tattoo. Be aware that during the first few days of healing the tattoo may seep ink, blood or lymph(plasma) which may stain clothing, sheets or other fabrics.
Also, it is good practice to make sure your sheets and bedding are clean the first week of aftercare. You don’t want to get an infection because your tattoo has been in contact with dirty sheets all night. Same goes for clothing. Don’t be a slob!
Ointment. Apply a very small amount of ointment once a day for the first 2 to 4 days. Spread a very small amount of ointment with clean fingertips over tattoo. Spread ointment very thin, just a moist shimmer is all that’s needed. Switch to fragrance and dye free skin lotion after 3 to 4 days of ointment. Continue with skin lotion for remainder of aftercare regimen.
Make sure to not apply ointment too thick and greasy. Too much ointment is not good. Pores will suffocate and may cause skin to breakout. Too much grease will attract and trap dust and bacteria which may cause a skin infection.
Your tattoo will heal itself if you don’t apply any ointment. Ointment is not a necessary factor. Ointment is used to help the scabs not become over dry and crack open. Apply very thin layer of ointment when you feel extra dry, tight, and/or itchy. It is best to allow the scabs to form and stay dry. Scabs are there to protect your injury while the skin cells regenerate.
Some people prefer lotions instead of ointments, these can be applied more than once a day since they do absorb into the skin.
Once your scabs have flaked off, your ink is “locked in”. Your skin has not finished healing though. You will notice a lot of dry and flaky skin pushing out of your tattoo. Your skin will appear opaque and shiny at first, making your tattoo seem dull. This is due to the skins cells still recovering to their normal condition. Liberal amounts of fragrance and dye free skin lotion should be applied for the next month or so. DO NOT continue using greasy ointments after 3 to 4 days.
Always wash your hands before washing, handling or applying ointment or lotion to your tattoo!
Approved ointments and lotions
- Lubriderm non-scented
STAY AWAY FROM THE FOLLOWING!!
- A & D ointment
- Neosporin or any triple antibiotic ointments
- Fruit scented hand soaps
- Lotions that contain “alcohol”
- Your homies’ advice
- Beware of your Pets. Pets bring many potential dangers to tattoo aftercare. Hair, dander, drool, urine and feces all present very real dangers to your home environment while healing any injury. Things can go sour very fast, infections are real. Be aware of your surroundings. Clean and disinfect all potential areas you may come in contact with pet hair and waste. Minimize direct contact with your pet for at least 1 week after getting tattooed.
- Ice down your poor injured skin while your tattoo is still bandaged. This will bring down swelling, soreness and over all discomfort. Your skin will thank you for it. You can also ice down the tattoo the following day/s when you have some down time. Just wrap your tattoo with clean saran wrap and ice over protective film. Wash tattoo afterward.
- Taking a couple of Tylenol before bed the day of your tattoo will also help with swelling and soreness. You will sleep and rest better when your tattoo is not throbbing with every heartbeat.
- Wear soft, comfortable clothing. There is nothing worse than having to go through your work day with a pair of jeans that’s constantly irritating your tattoo. This will cause unnecessary irritation, prolonging your healing time. And, may possibly cause permanent damage, resulting in need of a “touch up”.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages. The rumors are true. Alcohol does thin your blood and raise your heart rate. It may be possible to start bleeding again days after being tattooed due to alcohol consumption. For best results, it is advised to abstain from alcohol days before, day of, and days after being tattooed to ensure your immune system is strong and your blood will be healthy to do it’s job of healing your skin.
- A healthy diet and plenty of water. Your tattoo is now a part of your skin and a part of you. Health starts from within. Proper nutrition and hydration are key to recovering quickly and with less chances of something going wrong. If your immune system is weak, it’s generally an indication of your overall health.
- Avoid working out for about a week. Sweating out of your pores is much different from sweating into your cuts. If you have ever felt the sting of sweat as it enters a cut on your skin, then you know what I’m talking about. If you have to workout. Try to wait at least a few days after. Do not workout a full routine till after 2 weeks of getting tattooed. I like to tell my athlete clients to do half their normal routine half the time. If you normally workout 4 times a week for an hour, then workout twice a week for half hour. Always wash your tattoo immediately before and immediately after working out.
- Protect your tattoo from sun fading. Sunlight(UVA,UVB) is your tattoo pigment’s worst enemy. Excessive unprotected exposure to sunlight with fade your tattoo the fastest. Taking measures to protect your tattoo from too much sunlight throughout the life of your tattoo will ensure your tattoo looks as fresh and bright as possible, as long as possible. Wearing long sleeves and hats are one way of protecting your tattoo from the sun. When long sleeves are not an option(after all tattoos were meant to be seen), applying sun screen is one of the best ways to protect your work of art. I have seen different suggestions on what SPF sunscreen to use. Some say minimum of 15SPF, others say a minimum of 30SPF, even 45SPF. I say, no one knows your skin better than you. Apply your favorite sunscreen when you know your tattoo will be exposed to the sun. Do Not apply sunscreen during the first 2 weeks of healing after the initial tattoo is performed. Sunscreen is for the life of your tattoo, not for initial healing. This is for long term care.
And last but definitely not least….
- DO NOT pick, scratch, or peel any loose skin or scabs! They will come off when ready. And don’t worry when your scabs start peeling, your tattoo is not coming off!
- DO NOT soak your tattoo in pools, ocean, baths, hot tub, saunas etc. Short showers only until completely healed (approximately 2 weeks).
- NO direct sunlight until completely healed. Constant unprotected exposure to sunlight while tattoo is healing will fade your tattoo.
- DO NOT shave over your tattoo until it has healed.
- DO NOT listen to your friends, your relatives, or your significant other about tattoo aftercare….. Unless they are the artist who gave you the tattoo.
If all else fails and you still have questions. I am here to help. Please contact me directly with any concerns.