Once your tattoo is done, it’s not too hard to make sure it heals the best that it can. And it is worth the few days of special care after all that cost and discomfort it took to get it.
- Whatever you do, do NOT pick at the scab on your new tattoo. If the scab comes off too soon, you run the risk of having the ink “heal out,” which leaves a blank spot in the design and then you’ll have to get that part redone. This can happen a little bit during natural healing, but picking at a scab pretty much guarantees it. No matter how much it itches, don’t scratch it!
- You can shower with your tattoo, but don’t let it sit under the spray and get soaked. Wash it gently with a mild, natural soap using just your fingertips. Rinse quickly and make sure when you dry off to pat (not brush/scrape) the tattooed area.
- Tattoos that are totally brand-new get a light smear of antibiotic ointment on them, until the scab forms. Once the scab starts, you will want to switch to a natural or organic, unscented lotion to keep the skin moisturized. You do not want to use anything that contains lanolin or petroleum jelly in it for healing your tattoo, as these will clog the pores and often contributed to the ink healing out. I personally tell people to avoid diaper rash creams (aka A&D ointment or bepanthen), as these very often do contain lanolin and petroleum. I’ve also learned that the Australian product Lucas Paw Paw Ointment contains petroleum jelly (although it doesn’t say so on the label) so avoid that one too!
- While tattoos are healing, you want to avoid skin trauma. This can include clothes that rub the area too much, any activities where the tattoo would get hit hard, anything that scrapes or scratches the healing surface and heavily sweating. Sweat is how the body cools itself AND gets rid of toxins. That toxic sweat can cause your new tattoo to become infected.
- Initial healing from new tattoo to scabbed is about 3 days on average and the scab often falls off around days 7-10 but your individual skin healing can vary. The tattoo usually still has some dry skin on top (nicknamed “the saran wrap” phase by many because the tattoo can look shiny) after the heavy scab comes off and after two weeks the skin surface is often healed. The tattoo may be flat to the skin at this point, or it might take a little longer to become flush with the skin. Until the entire surface is healed you want to avoid any swimming or soaking in a hot tub!
- Remember: your individual skin healing and reactions may vary! If you think you are having a problem, go back and talk to your tattoo artist or see a doctor!