How To Care for New Tattoos

Caring for new tattoos is old hat for those who have gone through the tattooing process multiple times but for tattoo virgins, the care procedures may not be as obvious. We at InspiringTattoos.com want to ensure that everyone takes the best care of their new tattoo in order to ensure it stays vibrant, clear, and healthy for years and years to come. Check out our tips on how to care for new tattoos below:

Tattoo Bandages

You know that bandage your tattoo artist taped over your tattoo? Leave it on! Though your tattoo may look amazing and you want to show it off as soon as possible, it is still an open wound. Your tattoo is susceptible to air-born bacteria which can ravage and infect your new piece of artwork. The bandage should be kept on for at least 2 hours but recommended up to 24 hours, especially if you’ll be sleeping on it. The only exception to this rule is if your tattoo is covered in plastic wrap. You will need to remove the plastic wrap rather soon, as it will literally suffocate your skin and cause additional damage. Apply a clean, thick ABD bandage to the area after cleaning.

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Cleaning the Tattoo

Relatively soon after you leave the tattoo parlor, you will want to clean any blood, dirt, sweat, plasma, etc. off of your tattoo and apply a salve. Not doing so can cause an infection to occur. Using lukewarm water, your hand, and a mild antibacterial soap, very gently wash your tattoo. For soap, we recommend Satin. Do NOT use a washcloth on your tattoo as they are abrasive and can damage the already tender skin. The tattoo may feel slimy– this is due to your body excreting plasma. Try to wash as much away as possible, as this plasma will later scab. Very gently PAT your tattoo dry with a towel or paper towel. Do not rub as this is abrasive.

Applying Salve

It’s important to keep your tattoo moisturized while it heals to ensure color fastness and quick recovery. After following the above directions to clean your new tattoo, it is recommended you wait about 10 minutes to allow your tattoo to “breathe” before applying a salve or ointment.  We love Aquaphor for new tattoos. Aquaphor can be purchased at most drug store chains. Your ointment must be free of perfume, dyes, petroleum, sparkles, and antibacterial agents. Apply just enough ointment to make your tattoo shiny– apply too much and it can suffocate your skin. Apply the ointment a few times a day for 2-3 days.

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Tattoo Scabbing

It’s common for some tattoos to scab or flake after a couple days. This is blood and/or plasma hardening to protect the open wound and dead skin peeling away like a sunburn. Whatever you do, resist picking the scabs and flakes! Picking the tattoo scabs can damage the area of the tattoo and pull ink out of the skin. Wait for the scabs and flakes to naturally fall away, though you can encourage them away after a week or two while gently washing the tattoo.

Sun & Outdoors

If possible, try to keep your new tattoo out of direct sunlight and strong wind for at least a couple weeks. Strong sunlight can fade the tattoo ink and wind can cause the skin to dry and chap, damaging the tattoo. Keeping the skin your tattoo has been applied to nice and healthy, especially the first few weeks you have it, will ensure your tattoo stays vibrant and sharp for much longer.

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Pain & Tenderness

If you tattoo is still very painful to the touch and inflamed after two days or so, consult your doctor. It is possible that the tattoo has become infected. Waiting for the infection to go away on its own can not only be dangerous to your health, but could really damage your tattoo.

Long-term Care

Tattoos normally heal completely after 2-3 weeks, but also be sure to apply lotion to your tattoo in the long term. Ensuring your tattoo is moisturized as often as possible will prevent your skin from wrinkling (no one likes looking at an old, saggy tat!) and the ink from fading. Aging is inescapable, but keeping your tattoo looking beautiful isn’t! And, last but not least, enjoy! You’ve contracted an artist to immortalize script or an image on your body for the rest of your life– take good care of your tattoo and it will bring you joy forever.

Haven’t taken the leap yet and are just considering your options? Feel free to browse our tattoo galleries for loads of tattoo subject inspiration! We add new categories almost daily, so be sure to check back often.

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