There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a warm shower at the end of a long day. It melts the stress away from your body and leaves you feeling refreshed. But if you just recently got a tattoo, you may be wondering if (and when) it is safe for you to get your ink wet in the shower.
You can shower with a new tattoo, but you must be careful and take a few steps to protect your piece of art. In fact, not only is it okay to shower with a new tattoo, but it is also highly recommended and necessary.
Because your tattoo is an open wound, it is susceptible to infection. Keeping the area clean reduces harmful bacteria on the skin, which in turn lessens your chance of the tattoo becoming infected.
When can you begin showering?
You do not want to shower too soon after getting a tattoo. Your “open wound” must finish its initial closing process, as well as expel any remaining blood, plasma, or surface ink. This usually happens within the first day after getting a tattoo.
So, in most cases, you can take a shower about 24 hours after getting inked. Your artist will give you instructions on when he recommends you take your first shower, depending on your specific situation.
Many artists use plastic or another type of bandage to cover the piece immediately after they complete it. Usually, she will tell you to remove the bandage at a certain time. After that, it’s typically fine to take a shower.
Some artists use Saniderm, which is a medical-grade bandage. If this is the case, your artist may instruct you to leave your tattoo wrapped for longer than 24 hours. But thankfully, you can shower with a Saniderm bandage because they are waterproof.
After years of experience, most artists have their “after-care” tattoo protocol perfected, and they’ll be able to tell you exactly when it is best for you to shower (considering your individual situation).
What precautions should you take?
While showering with a new tattoo is a good thing, here are a few things you need to do to safeguard it while taking a shower.
First, keep in mind that shorter is better. You don’t want to spend a ton of time in a warm, steamy shower with a new tattoo. So, you’ll probably want to skip the facial treatments, deep conditioner, and any other unnecessary steps. Keeping your shower time to a minimum is very important during the healing process.
Don’t take too many (or too few) showers. Try not to take multiple showers each day. You want to keep the area clean, without over drying it. On the other hand, you don’t want to skip showering for days on end, either. For optimal healing, aim to take about one shower per day.
Don’t use hot water. Hot water causes skin pores to open, which can lead to ink fading. Most artists recommend showering in lukewarm water. Some even advise finishing your shower with cool water. Cool water is known to help close pores, which can be good for new ink.
Be very careful when cleansing your new tattoo. Do not use a rough washcloth, shower sponge, or loofah on your tattooed skin. Not only will it be uncomfortable, using these on your new tattoo can lead to irritation and possibly infection. Use only your clean hand to gently wash the area.
Don’t use any harsh products. Stay away from any exfoliating products such as salt scrubs or other cleansers containing chemicals. Once again, this will not only cause pain to your skin, but it could also be detrimental to the healing process.
Do use gentle cleansing products. Make sure you use a mild, fragrance-free soap that does not contain alcohol. (Checking the ingredients on your product is very important.) Your artist may have a particular brand he recommends for your after-care regimen, which will make choosing your soap even easier.
Do not shave the area. If your tattoo is in a place where you typically shave, you must avoid using a razor until it is 100% healed. Typically, that takes 4-6 weeks, so be patient.
Pat dry or air dry- Do not rub. After your shower, do not scrub or rub your tattoo with a bath towel. Instead, gently pat it dry. Some artists recommend using a clean paper towel to pat dry, as they usually contain less bacteria than a cloth towel. If you’d prefer to avoid touching the area altogether, you can allow the tattoo to air-dry. This is generally viewed as the safest option.
After your shower, apply the cream or ointment recommended by your tattoo artist. When you leave your appointment, your artist will probably recommend a particular product to use to moisturize your tattoo. You will want to apply this after your shower, or as instructed by your tattoo professional.
When can you take a bath?
You shouldn’t take a bath while your tattoo is healing. It is best to avoid submerging your tattoo into water for a minimum of 2 weeks. Your artist may recommend you wait a bit longer than 2 weeks, depending on her experience and your circumstances.
Soaking in a tub exposes you to germs and bacteria which could cause infection. Infection is not only bad for your tattoo, but it can be dangerous for your overall health, too. Bathing can also dry your skin out, which is harmful for the healing process.
Additionally, make sure you avoid submerging your tattoo in other types of water, such as the pool, hot tub, or lake. All of these can endanger your new artwork and your health.
Is it painful to take a shower with a new tattoo?
If done correctly, showering with a brand-new tattoo should not be too painful. However, it will probably feel a little tender, which is totally normal.
To reduce the possibility of pain, burning, or stinging, avoid these things: Hard streams of water directly hitting the area, using harsh products containing alcohol, and showering in very hot water.
You should be comfortable while showering with your tattoo if you take all the above precautions.
If you are experiencing a lot of pain while showering, and it is accompanied by fever, swelling, redness, rash, purulent discharge, or any other alarming symptom, it is advised to seek medical treatment.
What happens if a new tattoo gets wet?
It is okay for your new tattoo to get wet, but it is not okay for it to become saturated.
If the area is kept too wet, such as with very long showers or baths, your scab will soften and become bubbly. This can cause damage to your healing skin. If it becomes overly soft, it can then get “gummy” and start to stick to things like clothing. Ouch!
If your tattoo gets wet while showering, that is perfectly fine. Just make sure that it is not exposed to the water for very long and that you are very careful when cleansing and drying it.
Showering, as long as it is done correctly, is great for your healing tattoo. It is vital to practice good hygiene and avoid introducing any harmful bacteria during this process. Once it is fully healed, you’ll be so glad you took the necessary steps to protect your artwork and your health. You’ll love showing your new tattoo off to your friends and family. Feel free to brag- You deserve it!