8 Tips for Optimal Tattoo Aftercare

8 Tips for Optimal Tattoo Aftercare

As recently as 25 years ago, it was rare to see a person walking around with a tattoo. But these days, it seems like almost everyone has at least one tattoo inked on their skin.

Surveys have shown that upwards of 46% of Americans have a tattoo. That makes the U.S. one of the most tattooed countries in the world, behind only Italy and Sweden.

Are you thinking about getting a tattoo sometime soon? Before you do, make sure you know about the tattoo aftercare you’ll have to do to keep yourself healthy and to make your tattoo look its best.

Here are eight tips for taking care of a new tattoo.

1. Leave Your Tattoo Bandaged for a Few Hours After You First Get It

When your tattoo artist is all finished with your tattoo, they’ll coat it with petroleum ointment and place a bandage over it. They do this in order to stop bacteria from working its way into your skin.

They also do this to prevent your clothing from rubbing up against your tattoo and irritating your skin and to stop any excess ink from your tattoo from coming into contact with your clothes.

You should leave the bandaging that your tattoo artist applies over your tattoo on for at least a few hours once you get home. You might be tempted to rip it right off so that you can check out your tattoo, but that would be a big mistake.

2. Wash Your Tattoo After Removing the Bandage

Once your tattoo has been bandaged up for a few hours, you can remove it to take a look at the work that your tattoo artist did. But before you do, wash your hands with soap and warm water so that you don’t spread any germs to your tattoo.

Take the bandage off your tattoo after you’ve washed your hands and take a few minutes to clean your tattoo, too. You should do this by using a fragrance-free soap and some warm water. Pat your tattoo dry when you’re done.

3. Apply Petroleum Ointment to Your Tattoo

When you first get a tattoo, petroleum ointment is going to be your best friend. You’re going to want to apply it to your tattoo early and often as part of your tattoo aftercare routine.

You should not cover your tattoo back up with any kind of bandaging, though. Instead, you want to put petroleum ointment over your tattoo and then leave it exposed during the day.

If possible, you should try to get a tattoo when you know you’ll have a few days off from work or school. It’ll help you avoid having to cover your tattoo up at any point when it’s still fresh.

If you’re not going to be able to commit to keeping a tattoo out in the open for a few days, this product might be a better option for you than a real tattoo.

4. Continue to Wash Your Tattoo a Couple Times Every Day

In addition to applying a lot of petroleum ointment to your tattoo during the first few days, you’re also going to want to get into the habit of keeping it clean. You should clean your tattoo with soap and water at least twice every day.

By keeping your tattoo clean, you can reduce the risk of infection. You can also promote healing within all of the various layers of your skin.

5. Avoid Picking at the Scabs That Form Over Your Tattoo 

After you’ve had a tattoo for a few days, scabs are going to start to form over it. Those scabs might make your tattoo look unsightly, and you might be tempted to pick at them to make them go away.

Do not do this under any circumstances! You could cause scars to form in and around your tattoo if you pick at the scabs.

Allow the scabs to harden over time and to fall off on their own. It might take a few days, but they will fall off and go away without you having to intervene.

6. Steer Clear of Exposing Your Tattoo to Too Much Sun

Outside of not picking at the scabs that form on your tattoo, there’s another thing you shouldn’t do when you have a new tattoo. You should not allow your tattoo to sit in the sun for too long.

If you’re going to be working outside or taking a trip to the beach, make sure you cover up your tattoo before you do. It’ll stop the sun from taking a toll on your tattoo.

7. Keep Your Tattoo and the Area Surrounding It Moisturized

Most people expect their tattoos to look incredible when they’re new. But the truth is that many tattoos look dull when people first get them, due in large part to all the dry skin that surrounds them.

Moisturizing your dry skin will make this dullness go away over time. Invest in a big bottle of moisturizer that you can apply to your tattoo several times every day to keep your skin hydrated.

8. Visit a Doctor If You Suspect Your Tattoo Might Be Infected

As long as you use the tips listed here, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about your skin getting infected after you get a tattoo. But there is always a chance that it could happen.

If you notice that your tattoo still looks very red and very swollen after you’ve had it for a few weeks, consider calling your doctor to make an appointment. Some redness and swelling are normal at first. But you could have an infection if it keeps up.

Make Sure You Follow These Tattoo Aftercare Steps

Getting a tattoo can be a very exciting experience. There is nothing quite like seeing some amazing artwork inked on your skin.

But don’t let your initial excitement trick you into thinking you don’t have to take tattoo aftercare seriously. You could do damage to your skin if you don’t take good care of a new tattoo. Read our blog to learn more about how tattoos can affect your skin and your health as a whole if they’re not well maintained.