Getting your first tattoo is a magical yet scary experience. You’re permanently marking your skin with stunning artwork, meaning you’re bound to feel a flurry of emotions. From happy to impatient, and maybe even nervous, getting a tattoo is more than boasting an aesthetic look.
Instead, there are a million things you need to factor in before getting a tattoo. Starting from where you’ll get the tattoo, its design right down to the aftercare plan, you’re likely to have a million worries occupying your mind.
Now, if you’re a fitness freak with a love for working out, you’ll have additional problems to think about. Below we discuss how you can avoid ruining your new tattoo while working out.
Will Sweating Ruin my Tattoo? At a Glance
The answer is yes, and no. While the sweat itself won’t affect your tattoo, the process through which you’re sweating may.
For instance, if you’re weightlifting in the gym, rubbing against the equipment may lead to irritation. On the other hand, excessive stretching of your skin when your body contracts can cause discoloration or unevenness in the outline. Inadequate aftercare may even leave you with an infection. Therefore, it is recommended you take some time off from working out.
How Does Getting a Tattoo Work?
If you’re tattooing your skin for the first time, chances are, you have no idea about its process. Here’s how your expert tattoo artist gives you a tattoo:
The artist uses a sanitized needle to inject ink underneath your epidermis and into the dermis.
Since this layer is permanent and your body can’t dispose of the big ink particles, these tattoos are permanent.
Last comes the healing process. Since tattoos are essentially wounds, the affected area requires a certain amount of time to heal properly. It is regardless of how big or small your tattoo is.
How Sweating Disturbs Your Healing Process
Your sweat glands are in the ‘Subcutaneous layer’ of your skin, which means it’s situated miles away from where the tattoo artist places the ink. But here’s the thing; tattoos are practically an open wound.
Now, if you subject this open wound to dirt, grime, and germs of all kinds, chances are, it’ll get infected. Not to mention, public gyms harbor millions of different kinds of bacteria. Thus, instead of completely giving up working out, you may avoid public gyms for a while.
Apart from this, understanding your body’s recovery process gives you a better idea of how your tattoo can become prone to infections. During the healing time, immune cells referred to as macrophages phagocytes help ensure the foreign ink particles introduced remain inside your body. It does so by trapping the ink inside the cytoplasm.
Now when your body starts sweating excessively, your skin is unable to trap the ink. In turn, the tattoo ends up blurry or discolored. The point here is to avoid excessive workouts, especially in gyms. In fact, an in-depth study suggests that certain gym equipment have germs more than toilet seats.
How Fresh Ink Modifies Your Sweat Glands
A variety of different studies suggest that sweating may even help speed up the healing process. It is because particular sweat glands located on areas around your body promote the reproduction of your tissues. It is primarily via the growth of keratinocytes, aka cells present on the epidermis layer.
On the flip side, excessive sweat alongside friction may lead to rapid elimination of creams and ointments working to protect your skin.
Another study by Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise shows that your tattooed skin releases sweat 50% less than an untattooed skin. Many experts believe that people with several tattoos have an increased chance of developing heat-related injuries, i.e., heat strokes, heat exhaustion, etc. It is majorly because their bodies now are unable to dissipate heat at an optimum rate.
Moreover, results suggest that sweat produced from tattooed skin contains sodium twice the amount then when untattooed skin perspires. The worst part? Perspiring this much salt can lead to sodium deficiency (hyponatremia).
Navigating Your Workout Regime While Your Tattoo is Still Fresh
If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you probably want to start working out as soon as possible. Apart from ensuring you don’t do any strenuous workouts, we’ve made a list of alternatives you can focus on during the two weeks after getting a tattoo:
Arms or Hands
Go for workout programs concentrated on legs. Here you may enjoy squats, stationary cycling, or the stair-climber.
Back or Chest
Workouts focused on gentle arms, as well as leg workouts, are perfect for you. Make sure you don’t put pressure on your back nor your chest muscles.
Leg or Feet
Stick to workout plans focusing on your arms and abs. Go for either sit-ups, planks, or bicep curls.
What if I Want to Go for a Run?
Once again, we recommend keeping it to the minimum for the first couple of days. There’s no need to run miles since that would lead to the muscles’ contraction underneath your fresh ink layer.
Apart from this, avoid exposing your brand new tattoo to copious amounts of sunlight. It is because when you first get a tattoo, the affected area is both raw and sensitive. It means being under UV rays could burn your skin.
On the flip side, sunlight may lead to fading, blistering, cracking, and bleeding of your tattoo. Not to mention, these changes are permanent. To steer clear of these issues, apply plenty of sunblock featuring high SPF numbers atop your tattoos.
Enjoying Light Workouts
Instead of heavy lifting and running a marathon, multiple professionals suggest you enjoy light workouts during the first three days.
In fact, it is advised you rest for the first 24 hours and allows your body to heal the new wound. Next comes jumping back into your workout. Here experts suggest you avoid using challenging gym equipment and applying pressure or rubbing the tattoo.
Instead, try to keep the tattoo as dry as possible and shower right after returning from your workouts.
How Long Before You Can Return to Your Normal Workout Schedule as per Your Tattoo?
There’s no exact healing time for your tattoo, and it may vary greatly depending on a variety of different factors.
For starters, if your tattoo is hand-poked rather than by machine, then it’s likely to heal faster. It is because hand-poked tattoos are comparatively less invasive and traumatic. Moreover, the depth of the tattoo needle can also mean the difference between spending two days or two weeks inside the house.
Not just this, but your tattoo’s placement, how big it is, and what details you’ve added can also change the healing time. Your workout regime may also define the healing process. Tips to keep in mind are ensuring the muscles under your tattoo don’t contract, nor should it receive any friction.
Basic Rules During Work Outs
- You’ve finally gotten the tattoo of your dreams. The last thing you want is to jeopardize it by making mistakes when working out. Here are some tips to ensure your ink keeps boasting its beautiful look despite your workout:
- Avoid overworking or focusing your training plan on the muscle area right underneath your tattoo.
- Ensure a shirt or a protective layer adequately covers your new tattoo to ensure bacteria from your gym equipment don’t infect you.
- Friction is likely to worsen your wound. Plus, it can lead to the fading of your tattoo. Thus, it’s imperative that exercising doesn’t allow your clothing to rub against your tattoo. Here you may bandage your tattoo to avoid vigorous rubbing.
- Too much sunlight means a lot of harmful UV lights are falling on your skin. Apply sunscreen and avoid too much exposure.
- Don’t wet your tattoo during the first 24 hours of your recovery. A moist area is susceptible to developing infections.
- Finally, you must wash your tattoo with clean water and gentle soap before and after a workout.
Don’t Forget Your Aftercare Plan
How well you follow your aftercare plan can also change the time taken for your body to heal. Here are the top aftercare tips:
- It’s likely your tattoo artist will offer adequate guidance on how you should take care of your tattoo. Be sure to follow their expert advice
- Allow your tattoo to sit for at least two to five hours. After that, use lukewarm water alongside a mild soap to wash it
- Next, it’s time to apply a layer of moisturizing lotion to the affected area. Do this at least three to five times per day
- Ensure you don’t expose your tattoo to moisture for at least a month after getting it. You can take a shower, but make sure you dry it appropriately
- The healing process includes scabbing or flaking. Be sure not to pick on it since it leads to discoloration and fading
- Last but not least, the healing process may take time. So remember to be patient