Your tattoo studio should explain the aftercare procedures after the tattoo application appointment. Remember though, the artists’ responsibility for the care and condition of the tattoo ends as soon as you walk out the studio door. You are in charge of caring for what is essentially, in regards to the condition of the skin and particularly for the first few days, an open wound. If you do not properly take care of the tattooed area it can lead to infection. If a few simple guidelines are followed is will remain a source of pride for many years.
The First Three To Four Hours –
After your tattoo application appointment the artist will wrap your tattoo with a protective bandage. This prevents infection from air borne bacteria and pathogens. Leave this bandage on but only for the first three to four hours after the tattoo.
Cleaning and Breathing –
Once the time comes to remove the bandage you can rinse the tattooed area. People often ask if they can shower normally and the answer is yes, however do not let the shower hit it directly. But be sure not to soak the tattooed area. You want to avoid prolonged submersion. Depending on your skin type and climate, you may or may not want to use some antibacterial soap to clear any excess ointment or cream. Always pat the tattooed area dry as rubbing can cause irritation.
Protective Layer –
A thin layer of moisturizer should be applied to the tattooed area ideally three to four times a day. The key healing time is the first few days. However the tattoo will not completely heal until one full skin cycle – 28 days. Keeping a light layer of moisturizer on the tattooed area throughout the first four weeks is highly recommended.
You have a tattoo because ink was pushed through the top layer of skin and deposited on the second or middle layer. When the needle was pushing through some ink will have been temporarily retained by the top layer of skin. In the first few weeks the top layer of skin over the tattoo will start to flake and peel. This is completely natural. Your tattoo is not falling off. Do not pick or scratch the area. Instead, let is flake naturally.
Stay Out Of The Sauna –
Saunas, hot tubs and swimming pools can be breeding grounds for bacteria. Normally your skin protects you by providing a waterproof barrier. However, your skin has been punctured during the tattoo process and the tattooed area is therefore susceptible to infection should you enter these areas with a recently applied tattoo. The same applies to baths and even showers – but the exposure is shorter and far less intense so the risk is minimized.
Say No To Sun Tanning –
The first 28 days are crucial and you should limit exposing the tattooed area to the sun as much as possible. Once the tattooed has healed applying an SPF50 is recommended prior to hitting the beach. Plenty of tattooed people also have sun tans. But staying out of the sun for the first few weeks is critical. The reason that direct sun is bad for a tattooed area is that the sun will heat up the tattoo ink. When this happens your body reacts and treats the ink as a foreign element. It will then attempt to digest the ink so as to ‘flush’ the intruder. This is why tattoos exposed to sun will start to look faded.