Things You Must Know About How To Heal Your Tattoo
Tattooing is an exceptionally personal experience; no two people will feel the same thing during their tattoo session or healing. However, there is a common ground on how most tattoos will heal and how you should care for your new tattoo.
If this is your first tattoo, make sure you’re sitting down with your artist with any questions you may have about how to care for your healing tattoo and what you can expect during the healing process.
If you weren’t able to get that information from your tattoo artist or if you need a refresher, there are some things you must know about your healing tattoo and how to care for it.
First and foremost, when your tattoo session is finished, your artist will clean it up, slather on some tattoo-friendly ointment such as A+D, and will bandage you up with a sterile absorbing pad. This is necessary to keep bacteria and dirt off of the fresh wound.
Make sure you’re keeping this protective barrier on for at least an hour after your tattoo session. Some artists will advise upwards of five hours to remain covered, but the typical timeframe is two hours after your session. Never go over eight hours with the original tattoo bandage. You’re going to want to clean up your tattoo for the first time.
Cleaning your tattoo for the first time:
Use unscented antibacterial soaps such as dial.
Make sure you’re using clean hands only during the first washing. Do not scrub your tattoo!
You can use a soft washcloth but make sure you’re not scrubbing. Pat it only.
Use luke-warm water, and don’t soak your new tattoo.
If the bandage is stuck, soak it only enough to remove it from your tattoo gently. Do not pull stuck-on bandages off.
Allow your tattoo to dry slightly by patting it with a clean towel.
Apply ointment. (Steer clear of Neosporin or any other accelerating ointments.)
If you plan on hitting the town after getting your new tattoo, make sure you keep it clear of any surfaces. Don’t touch anything with your new tattoo if possible, as this can lead to infection.
The timeframe you’ll use ointment will depend on your own personal healing times. The best rule of thumb is to use ointment until the last scab naturally sloughs off. This usually occurs within 5-7 days from your tattoo session. After which, you will switch to an unscented lotion such as Lubriderm or Aquaphor. Almost all artists will recommend these two products because they work well.
When applying lotion, make sure it’s a thin layer except for joints. You’re going to want to keep jointed areas a little more moist than your average spot due to the amount of movement they see every day. This will help to prevent cracking and splitting in your skin.
During the healing process, try not to sleep directly on your new tattoo. While there is a chance that you may roll onto it in your sleep, try to sleep in a position that keeps it free of excess pressure. You may want to get a set of sheets that you don’t care much about as there will be some weeping during the healing process, or invest in tattooed clothing that you can wear during healing, depending on where you had your tattoo placed.
While it’s tempting, don’t pick the scab! This is absolutely necessary to heal your tattoo properly. If you pick the scab, you’re pulling the ink out of your skin, which can impede the healing process, cause infection, and cause splotchy healing on the finished tattoo, leading to more touch-ups in the future.