Everyone’s skin heals differently, and when treating a new tattoo, it can be stressful to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, the tattoo artist will have the most useful advice, but it will vary from the size of your tattoo to the placement. To guide your healing process and ensure that you can walk away from the recovery in one piece, The Daily Texan has compiled a list of six aftercare tips for fresh tattoos.
1. Wash the tattoo
Generally, your tattoo artist will wrap the tattoo with a sterile bandage. If your tattoo artist pulls out seran wrap from H-E-B to wrap your new tattoo, run fast. Fresh air is ultimately necessary to heal a brand new tattoo, but it is very common to have your tattoo wrapped just as a preliminary measure to protect from bacteria and other antibodies. When you go home, take off the bandage and run lukewarm water over the tattoo along with antibacterial soap, such as Dial Gold. The tattoo is going to be sensitive to touch considering a needle just drew into and across your skin, so it tends to be easier to allow the soap to run down the tattoo as opposed to rubbing it all over the new tattoo.
2. Apply moisturizer
Make sure to apply a very thin layer of unscented moisturizer over the new tattoo after thoroughly washing it. The tattoo artist will recommend moisturizers best suited for the area. Cetaphil has many different types of unscented, reliable body moisturizers to ensure a smooth healing process. Moisturizers like Aquaphor can come in handy for smaller tattoos of 1-2 inches,but it also holds a reputation for irritating sensitive skin.
3. Don’t pick the scabs
When receiving a new tattoo, the skin is punctured anywhere from 50 to over 3,000 times per minute by a tattoo gun depending on the size of the piece. As soon as you get a new tattoo, your skin will start to produce plasma and begin the scabbing process right away because it is an open wound. Once scabs begin to appear, it is important to not pick them or else the ink will warp, causing the color to fade.
4. Avoid scratching
After investing in a beautiful new piece that will be on your skin forever, the last thing you want to do is scratch your tattoo. Yes, it will itch. Yes, it will tingle. However, it is critical to resist the urge to itch it. The ink needs to set and avoid warping of any kind, so let it be.
5. Avoid direct sunlight
While it is hard to dodge the sun living in Texas, try to the best of your ability to avoid direct sunlight. Sunlight is notorious for causing the color to fade, so if your tattoo has color in it, be cognizant of how much time you spend in the sun. If you do plan on spending a lot of time outside, wear sunscreen. The healing process is already painful enough, but a sunburn on top of the constant itching sensation would be unbearable.
6. No swimming
Your skin heals after getting a new tattoo just as it would when you get a cut. The skin grows back, but now it is filled with tiny pigments of ink. In order to keep the healing process clean and bacteria-free, don’t go swimming for at least 2–3 weeks. No matter how tempting it is to go for a dip at Barton Springs, the bacteria-filled water is not good for a new tattoo.