Tattoo Aftercare by Stage – First 60 Days

If you are planning to get your first tattoo, you may be a bit surprised to find out how that the healing process can take several weeks to finish. As you are likely aware, a tattoo is a open wound. Depending on the size and location of your piece, it may take your body a couple months before it fully recovers.

While your body is working on recovering and healing itself, there are steps you can (and should) take to reduce the risk of your tattoo becoming infected. 

This article will walk you through what to expect during the healing process as well as some  tips to help you as you care for your new tattoo. In addition, we have compiled a short list of signs to watch out for to ensure you get medical attention in case the tattoos takes more time than usual to heal.

Tattoo Aftercare (4 Crucial Stages)

First 24 Hours

The first 24 hours of the inking of the tattoo on your skin is the most critical stage of your tattoo aftercare process. During this time, your tattoo is nothing more than an open wound with ink slowly settling in the marks. Due to the fresh condition of the tattoo, it is vital to consider long-term safety and prevention of any contamination that can lead to bacterial infections.

The first step after getting the tattoo on your skin is the application of a thin plastic coat or film that protects your ink. Unless your tattoo artist deploys the latest spray-on-bandage that disintegrates naturally, you will have to remove the cover once you are home.

The plastic dressing protects the tattoo from dirt and dust that may accumulate from an open-environment condition. Your tattoo artist will instruct you, so follow their instruction carefully, and learn the optimal time for removing the plastic cover. Sometimes, it is 4-6 hours but depending on the size, shape, and other features of your tattoo, your artist may recommend a longer or shorter duration. Following that, you have to safely remove the cover and wash your tattoo gently.

The most popular plastic wrap on the market for tattoos is called Saniderm. I’d highly suggest picking up a roll of it before you go to get your tattoo. Almost all tattoo shops will sell it in their stores, but you can get it cheaper on Amazon (Click here).

In addition to keeping your tattoo wrapped, you’ll also want to make sure you keep it clean. Using lukewarm water along with tattoo soap that will ensure gentle and slow cleaning effects. Avoid fragrant soaps as their chemicals can cause skin irritation and rashes (other problems). If you are looking for a good tattoo soap, I highly recommend picking up some made by H2Ocean. You can grab it on Amazon by clicking here.

After removing the plastic cover, it is important to clean the tattoo in order to keep the skin and open wounds secure from bacterial infections and buildup. Keep your hands clean before you clean the tattoo itself. Moreover, rubbing or scratching it when slight blood or ooze comes out the fresh tattoo is a big “NO.” In fact, gently clean the tattoo with a soft towel after you clean it with a soap tattoo and let the skin dry under optimal temperatures.

Bear one thing in mind that your tattoo needs breathability to help the wounds heal and let the ink become permanent. So, avoid applying bandages or protective cover in any case. You can use a fan, blower, or simply air-dry the tattoo to let it clean thoroughly. However, a cooler temperature is favorable because warm and hot air may cause irritation and discomfort to the open wounds.

Tip! Wear old clothes once you get home from your tattoo session. It’s highly likely that any clothing you wear after getting a tattoo will get stained with ink or blood in the first 24 hours. If you think about it, put some old sheets on your bed as well so you don’t stain the ones you usually sleep in.

Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap for Tattoos
Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Moisturizer, Organic Ingredients
Wrap to Protect
Soap to Cleanse
Moisturize to Heal
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap | 10.2 inch x 2 yard (25.91 cm x 1.83 m) Roll | Protect and Heal Your Tattoo
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap
Tattoo Salve, Tattoo Aftercare, Tattoo Ointment, Tattoo Care, Tattoo Lotion, Tattoo Balm, No Aloe Dye Paraben, Tattoo Cream, Tattoo Moisturizer, Made in USA, Organic Ingredients, Ora's Amazing Herbal
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap
Wrap to Protect
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap | 10.2 inch x 2 yard (25.91 cm x 1.83 m) Roll | Protect and Heal Your Tattoo
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap for Tattoos
Soap to Cleanse
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap
Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Moisturizer, Organic Ingredients
Moisturize to Heal
Tattoo Salve, Tattoo Aftercare, Tattoo Ointment, Tattoo Care, Tattoo Lotion, Tattoo Balm, No Aloe Dye Paraben, Tattoo Cream, Tattoo Moisturizer, Made in USA, Organic Ingredients, Ora's Amazing Herbal

Next 24-72 Hours

Once you have surpassed the first 24 hours of a tattoo, your body will really begin to recover and heal itself. Don’t be surprised if during this phase of recovery if your tattoo begins to dull and appear to lose some of its brightness. It is a sign of normal healing that is already underway and will continue for some time. 

During the 24-72 hour after your tattoo, you’ll want to make sure you keep your tattoo clean and protected. During this time, you should not wrap your tattoo unless you are going outside or need to protect it from getting dirty. Allowing your skin to breathe as much as possible will help with the healing process.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but you can over clean your tattoo. Excessively wetting the tattoo and the skin around it will hinder the healing process. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions from your tattoo artist, but in general, you should never wash a tattoo more than 2-3 times per day. 

If you begin experience itchiness or dryness during this time, you can begin using a tattoo moisturizer to help with the discomfort.  My go to tattoo moisturizer is call Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve. I’ve used it for several years and have often give a bottle of it to friends who are getting a new tattoo.

Outdoors & Sunlight

Sunlight is not a friend of your tattoo. Consider covering up your tattoo to prevent excessive UV light exposure and ink damage. If you are going to be outdoors in the sunlight during the healing stages of your tattoo, make sure you cover up your piece. One of the worst things you could do to a new tattoo is allow the skin around it to become sunburned. 

Additional Things to Look For

It’s very common and likely that during this phase of recovery that your skin will develop some redness or even swell a bit. This is another common indicator that you body is working to heal itself. If the swelling and redness persist or continues to get worse, you’ll want to reach out to your tattoo artist or a dermatologist to ensure everything is healing properly. 

In addition to avoiding direct sunlight, you will need to avoid large bodies of water during the healing stages. This includes pools, lakes and the ocean. You can find out more about tattoos and swimming by reading this article that I have written

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you don’t start exercising or playing any sports that could damage your tattoo immediately after getting your tattoo. Ultimately this will depend on the location and size of your piece. If it’s in a spot where it could get hit or bruised, it’s highly recommended that you wait before participating in the activity until is has healed. 

After 1st Week

Once the scabs start to form, they will take around a week to 10 days to flake off. You will want to be gentle with cleaning your tattoo and preventing any forceful exertion over the area during this time. 

After the first week, it is common to experience increased itchiness and rashness. To help with the itchiness, I have found that placing my moisturizing in the refrigerator helps offer some relief. For whatever reason, the cool temperature of the moisturizer helps soothe the skin.

After 1 Month

The final stage of the tattoo healing process requires patience as it may be slow. During this time, you will notice the scabs over your tattoo will begin to slowly fall off. You may also notice what is referred to as milky skin develop over your tattoo. This is another stage in the healing process and is only dead skin cells that your body is trying to replace. 

Applying skin protection and moisturizer may help relieve itches and rashness, which will also help the healing process along the way. Bear in mind that you may feel itching inside the skin because the outer skin layers heal quicker than the inner layers. 

By this time, your tattoo should have completely sealed itself. The risk of infection is greatly reduced at this point, however, you should still continue to keep it clean, especially until all the scabs have fallen off. 

Symptoms of Tattoo Infections or Inappropriate Care

While aftercare is an important part of tattoo preservation, it is also vital to keep a check on any occurring symptoms along the healing process. While some are sensitive to minor treatment, others could have an underlying skin condition that your dermatologist may be able to solve.

Here is a list of symptoms and signs of improper healing during the tattoo healing process:

  • Excessive Redness: if your tat’s redness persists for longer than the first few days, consult a dermatologist immediately as it is a sign of improper healing.
  • Swelling on Skin: again, it’s common for the skin to swell and puff. However, it should not persist for longer than the first three days or a week. Consult a dermatologist as this may be a sign of an allergic reaction to a certain type of ink.
  • Fevers/Chills: fevers and puffiness around the tattoo are signs of infection.
  • Scarring: under improper healing, temporary scars can become permanent, which are causes of concern. Signs may include distorted colors, swelling, redness around the skin of the tattoo, etc.
  • Chronic Itches: itches and severe rashness is also a sign of skin infection that may occur due to ink type or quality or even improper technique.
  • Oozing/ Blood Fluids: is there pus and severe oozing of substances from your tattoo even after a few weeks of the healing process? Consider meeting a dermatologist. Pus and fluids may be a reaction of the body against the foreign substance (i.e., ink).

Improve Healing Time

Here are a few ways you can ensure that your healing process goes smooth and may even speed up along the way.

Avoid Picking

Scabbing is a healthy part of the healing process after you get the tattoo. Scratching over the scabs can result in scars, and it can also delay the overall healing process. Moreover, it can affect the tattoo design.

Avoid Fragrant Products

Consider non-fragrant products such as conditioners, lotions, moisturizers, and shampoos. Fragrant chemicals can react with open wounds and ink, leading to infections or severe rashness.

Regular Cleaning

Avoid hot water contact with your fresh tattoo because it can damage the open wounds. Subsequently, it can result in the distortion of the tattoo itself while causing the ink to flow inwards (i.e., the pores).

Sterile and lukewarm water should be your first choice when it comes to cleaning your tat of dirt and dust. Notably, you should clean your hands before cleaning the tat itself. Use alcohol-free and scent-free antibacterial soaps that lathe gently over the tattoo. Dry with soft fabric towels and let them air dry (cooler air is optimal).

Ointments and Sunscreen

Heavy products and ointments can cause slower healing, and therefore your tattoo artist may suggest using ointments that are light. What’s more, they should contain certain vitamins and minerals to help your skin heal better. Following that, your artist will recommend moisturizers that are fragrance-free.

In addition, a sunscreen with optimal SPF may be suitable for protection against excessive UV light exposure if you need to go outdoors. Consult with your tat artist before applying one.

Conclusion

Consulting a professional like your tattoo artist or a dermatologist is the best way to learn about the tattoo aftercare process. Their advice will help guide you through the process if it’s your first tattoo to heal and prevent any sudden complications from arising.

 

 

 

This article will feature some of the best tips to help you on your way to caring for your new tattoo. Moreover, we have compiled a short list of signs that will ensure you get medical attention in case the tattoos take more time than usual to heal.

Tattoo Aftercare (4 Crucial Stages)

First 24 Hours

The first 24 hours of the inking of the tattoo on your skin is the most critical stage of your tattoo aftercare process. During this time, your tattoo is nothing more than an open wound with ink slowly settling in the marks. Due to the fresh condition of the tattoo, it is vital to consider long-term safety and prevention of any contamination that can lead to bacterial infections.

The first step after getting the tattoo on your skin is the application of a thin plastic coat or film that protects your ink. Unless your tattoo artist deploys the latest spray-on-bandage that disintegrates naturally, you will have to remove the cover once you are home.

The plastic dressing protects the tattoo from dirt and dust that may accumulate from an open-environment condition. Your tattoo artist will instruct you, so follow their instruction carefully, and learn the optimal time for removing the plastic cover. Sometimes, it is 4-6 hours but depending on the size, shape, and other features of your tattoo, your artist may recommend a longer or shorter duration. Following that, you have to safely remove the cover and wash your tattoo gently.

The most popular plastic wrap on the market for tattoos is called Saniderm. I’d highly suggest picking up a roll of it before you go to get your tattoo. Almost all tattoo shops will sell it in their stores, but you can get it cheaper on Amazon (Click here).

In addition to keeping your tattoo wrapped, you’ll also want to make sure you keep it clean. Using lukewarm water along with tattoo soap that will ensure gentle and slow cleaning effects. Avoid fragrant soaps as their chemicals can cause skin irritation and rashes (other problems). If you are looking for a good tattoo soap, I highly recommend picking up some made by H2Ocean. You can grab it on Amazon by clicking here.

After removing the plastic cover, it is important to clean the tattoo in order to keep the skin and open wounds secure from bacterial infections and buildup. Keep your hands clean before you clean the tattoo itself. Moreover, rubbing or scratching it when slight blood or ooze comes out the fresh tattoo is a big “NO.” In fact, gently clean the tattoo with a soft towel after you clean it with a soap tattoo and let the skin dry under optimal temperatures.

Bear one thing in mind that your tattoo needs breathability to help the wounds heal and let the ink become permanent. So, avoid applying bandages or protective cover in any case. You can use a fan, blower, or simply air-dry the tattoo to let it clean thoroughly. However, a cooler temperature is favorable because warm and hot air may cause irritation and discomfort to the open wounds.

Tip! Wear old clothes once you get home from your tattoo session. It’s highly likely that any clothing you wear after getting a tattoo will get stained with ink or blood in the first 24 hours. If you think about it, put some old sheets on your bed as well so you don’t stain the ones you usually sleep in.

Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap for Tattoos
Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Moisturizer, Organic Ingredients
Wrap to Protect
Soap to Cleanse
Moisturize to Heal
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap | 10.2 inch x 2 yard (25.91 cm x 1.83 m) Roll | Protect and Heal Your Tattoo
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap
Tattoo Salve, Tattoo Aftercare, Tattoo Ointment, Tattoo Care, Tattoo Lotion, Tattoo Balm, No Aloe Dye Paraben, Tattoo Cream, Tattoo Moisturizer, Made in USA, Organic Ingredients, Ora's Amazing Herbal
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap
Wrap to Protect
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage | Transparent Hygienic Adhesive Wrap | 10.2 inch x 2 yard (25.91 cm x 1.83 m) Roll | Protect and Heal Your Tattoo
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap for Tattoos
Soap to Cleanse
1.7oz Blue Green Foam Soap
Ora's Amazing Herbal Tattoo Moisturizer, Organic Ingredients
Moisturize to Heal
Tattoo Salve, Tattoo Aftercare, Tattoo Ointment, Tattoo Care, Tattoo Lotion, Tattoo Balm, No Aloe Dye Paraben, Tattoo Cream, Tattoo Moisturizer, Made in USA, Organic Ingredients, Ora's Amazing Herbal

Next 24-72 Hours

Once you have surpassed the first 24 hours of a tattoo, your body will really begin to recover and heal itself. Don’t be surprised if during this phase of recovery if your tattoo begins to dull and appear to lose some of its brightness. It is a sign of normal healing that is already underway and will continue for some time. 

During the 24-72 hour after your tattoo, you’ll want to make sure you keep your tattoo clean and protected. During this time, you should not wrap your tattoo unless you are going outside or need to protect it from getting dirty. Allowing your skin to breathe as much as possible will help with the healing process.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but you can over clean your tattoo. Excessively wetting the tattoo and the skin around it will hinder the healing process. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions from your tattoo artist, but in general, you should never wash a tattoo more than 2-3 times per day. 

If you begin experience itchiness or dryness during this time, you can begin using a tattoo moisturizer to help with the discomfort.  My go to tattoo moisturizer is call Ora’s Amazing Herbal Tattoo Salve. I’ve used it for several years and have often give a bottle of it to friends who are getting a new tattoo.

Outdoors & Sunlight

Sunlight is not a friend of your tattoo. Consider covering up your tattoo to prevent excessive UV light exposure and ink damage. If you are going to be outdoors in the sunlight during the healing stages of your tattoo, make sure you cover up your piece. One of the worst things you could do to a new tattoo is allow the skin around it to become sunburned. 

Additional Things to Look For

It’s very common and likely that during this phase of recovery that your skin will develop some redness or even swell a bit. This is another common indicator that you body is working to heal itself. If the swelling and redness persist or continues to get worse, you’ll want to reach out to your tattoo artist or a dermatologist to ensure everything is healing properly. 

In addition to avoiding direct sunlight, you will need to avoid large bodies of water during the healing stages. This includes pools, lakes and the ocean. You can find out more about tattoos and swimming by reading this article that I have written

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you don’t start exercising or playing any sports that could damage your tattoo immediately after getting your tattoo. Ultimately this will depend on the location and size of your piece. If it’s in a spot where it could get hit or bruised, it’s highly recommended that you wait before participating in the activity until is has healed. 

After 1st Week

Once the scabs start to form, they will take around a week to 10 days to flake off. You will want to be gentle with cleaning your tattoo and preventing any forceful exertion over the area during this time. 

After the first week, it is common to experience increased itchiness and rashness. To help with the itchiness, I have found that placing my moisturizing in the refrigerator helps offer some relief. For whatever reason, the cool temperature of the moisturizer helps soothe the skin.

After 1 Month

The final stage of the tattoo healing process requires patience as it may be slow. During this time, you will notice the scabs over your tattoo will begin to slowly fall off. You may also notice what is referred to as milky skin develop over your tattoo. This is another stage in the healing process and is only dead skin cells that your body is trying to replace. 

Applying skin protection and moisturizer may help relieve itches and rashness, which will also help the healing process along the way. Bear in mind that you may feel itching inside the skin because the outer skin layers heal quicker than the inner layers. 

By this time, your tattoo should have completely sealed itself. The risk of infection is greatly reduced at this point, however, you should still continue to keep it clean, especially until all the scabs have fallen off. 

Symptoms of Tattoo Infections or Inappropriate Care

While aftercare is an important part of tattoo preservation, it is also vital to keep a check on any occurring symptoms along the healing process. While some are sensitive to minor treatment, others could have an underlying skin condition that your dermatologist may be able to solve.

Here is a list of symptoms and signs of improper healing during the tattoo healing process:

  • Excessive Redness: if your tat’s redness persists for longer than the first few days, consult a dermatologist immediately as it is a sign of improper healing.
  • Swelling on Skin: again, it’s common for the skin to swell and puff. However, it should not persist for longer than the first three days or a week. Consult a dermatologist as this may be a sign of an allergic reaction to a certain type of ink.
  • Fevers/Chills: fevers and puffiness around the tattoo are signs of infection.
  • Scarring: under improper healing, temporary scars can become permanent, which are causes of concern. Signs may include distorted colors, swelling, redness around the skin of the tattoo, etc.
  • Chronic Itches: itches and severe rashness is also a sign of skin infection that may occur due to ink type or quality or even improper technique.
  • Oozing/ Blood Fluids: is there pus and severe oozing of substances from your tattoo even after a few weeks of the healing process? Consider meeting a dermatologist. Pus and fluids may be a reaction of the body against the foreign substance (i.e., ink).

Improve Healing Time

Here are a few ways you can ensure that your healing process goes smooth and may even speed up along the way.

Avoid Picking

Scabbing is a healthy part of the healing process after you get the tattoo. Scratching over the scabs can result in scars, and it can also delay the overall healing process. Moreover, it can affect the tattoo design.

Avoid Fragrant Products

Consider non-fragrant products such as conditioners, lotions, moisturizers, and shampoos. Fragrant chemicals can react with open wounds and ink, leading to infections or severe rashness.

Regular Cleaning

Avoid hot water contact with your fresh tattoo because it can damage the open wounds. Subsequently, it can result in the distortion of the tattoo itself while causing the ink to flow inwards (i.e., the pores).

Sterile and lukewarm water should be your first choice when it comes to cleaning your tat of dirt and dust. Notably, you should clean your hands before cleaning the tat itself. Use alcohol-free and scent-free antibacterial soaps that lathe gently over the tattoo. Dry with soft fabric towels and let them air dry (cooler air is optimal).

Ointments and Sunscreen

Heavy products and ointments can cause slower healing, and therefore your tattoo artist may suggest using ointments that are light. What’s more, they should contain certain vitamins and minerals to help your skin heal better. Following that, your artist will recommend moisturizers that are fragrance-free.

In addition, a sunscreen with optimal SPF may be suitable for protection against excessive UV light exposure if you need to go outdoors. Consult with your tat artist before applying one.

Conclusion

Consulting a professional like your tattoo artist or a dermatologist is the best way to learn about the tattoo aftercare process. Their advice will help guide you through the process if it’s your first tattoo to heal and prevent any sudden complications from arising.

Tattoo Guide Sale: