Tattoos are more than only a piece of art, as well as a way of asserting your style. They are a medical procedure, as the artist uses a needle in order to insert the ink underneath your skin. Every time you open the skin, you will leave yourself vulnerable to scarring and infections and that’s why proper aftercare is very important.
- Why is aftercare important?
Taking care of your tattoo can actually prevent the complications mentioned above, as well as ensure that it heals in the proper way. Both, you and your artist can play equal roles in this process. Together with going to a licensed, as well as reputable tattoo artist, you will have to take care of your new tattoo at your own home.
Figuring out how you can care for your tattoo can be quite tricky, however. A lot of states do not require their tattoo artists to provide aftercare instructions. Also, in more than 30 states which do require it, the artist usually decides which information to provide.
- How should you take care of your new tattoo?
The aftercare actually starts right after the tattoo is done. The artist should apply a thin layer of petroleum ointment over your tattoo, and then cover that area with bandage or plastic wrap. This covering is also going to prevent bacteria from getting into the skin. Also, it will protect the tattoo from rubbing on the clothes and get irritated.
You should keep the dressing on for several hours, as it is going to help you in absorbing the fluid or excess ink which leaks from the tattoo. Here are some tips:
1. After 2 or 3 hours, remove the bandage.
You should do this in a clean bathroom. You can also leave it during the night if you feel comfortable and secure. If it is removed on the first night, the tattoo can stick to or stain bedsheets. You should maintain clean bedding throughout the healing process too.
2. After removing the bandage, wash the tattoo immediately.
You should do this with warm water and soap. It is recommended to use plain Dial soap out of a pump bottle. You should not use soap with fragrance moisture beads or scrubs. Some soap options are Dove, Dial, and Neutrogena. Steps to washing your tattoo:
- Remove the bandage and tape carefully;
- Make lather in your hand with warm water and soap;
- Clean the tattoo gently using a circular motion, until all the ointment, blood, as well as lymphatic fluid, are removed;
- Rinse your tattoo and wash it again, gently, until your skin is completely clean;
- You can also use a hairdryer on the ‘cool’ setting;
- Also, you can use a clean paper towel to dab the tattoo dry.
3. Wash your tattoo with clean hands.
You should not use washcloths, bath towels, sponges or other things on a fresh tattoo.
4. Apply healing ointment. (This is debatable part because out there a lot of artists will recommend nothing but washing or wrapped in a plastic cover for a few days. So talk to your artist)
When the tattoo is completely dry, apply healing ointment – you should apply a thin layer and rub it in, then dab the excess off with a clean paper towel. Use it for the first 2 to 3 days, and you can switch to some regular fragrance-free lotion.
5. Dab ‘weep’ tattoo with a clean paper towel.
Fresh tattoos can sometimes ‘weep’ during the first couple of days, which means that the plasma and ink form a thin, or moist coating on the skin. This can be dabbed with a clean paper towel and press it to the skin and remove. You should not wipe the tattoo or be rough with it. You should not panic when you see the colors of the tattoo on the paper towel or on the hands as cleaning it. This is excess ink being sloughed from the surface or the skin. Cleaning once a day in the shower can be enough for every new tattoo.
5. Wear loose and preferably cotton clothes.
There will not be a need to re-bandage the tattoo, except in certain and rare situations. A bra strap, tight waistband, as well as sweaty gym shoe or itchy cotton sweater, can create some healing problems. You should consult your tattoo artist on what clothing to wear and what to void.
6. Don’t pick or scratch at your tattoo.
After a few days, the tattoo is going to start forming flaky scabs which will fall off on their own. You should not spick or scratch them. Keep your skin moisturized, and the scabs will slough eventually. They will have the color of your tattoo, and it will take 2 to 4 weeks for a tattoo to completely heal.
- Potential side effects and complications.
For the first several days after getting your tattoo, your skin may be red, itchy, as well as sore. You may also notice excess ink, together with blood and fluid, leaking for the skin. However, this is normal.
But, if you start experiencing some symptoms of the following, visit your doctor:
When you don’t take proper care of your tattoo, it can get infected. When the skin is infected, it will be red, warm and painful. Also, it may leak pus. This can be if the equipment or ink was contaminated, and you can get a bloodborne infection like Hepatitis B, C, Tetanus or HIV.
- Allergic reactions
If you are sensitive to ink, you can develop a red, itchy skin reaction at the site. Red, green, yellow or blue dyes are the most likely which can cause a reaction.
Some damage from the needle, or from picking at the tattoo, can also cause the body to produce scar tissue. Scars can stay permanently.
Once when your tattoo had healed, you should move into maintenance mode. Though you do not have to specifically take some care for it after three or four months, there are some things which you can do in order to prevent the ink from degrading: always keep it clean, stay hydrated, be careful what you wear, avoid excess weight gain or loss.