Having a tattoo is a lifetime decision. Once you have one, it will be with you for the rest of your life. If you have put on a new tattoo, remember that it is a skin wound that needs to be healed.
The healing process usually takes up to two weeks, but complete recovery could be as long as 45 days. It is very important to take care of your tattoo not only to prevent infections, but also to maintain the appearance of your tattoo. Follow these guidelines on what to do right after having a tattoo.
Remove the bandage
Before you left the tattoo shop, the tattoo artist put on a strip of cellophane or soft tissue over your mark. Remove that bandage in about one or two hours after that. Do not re-bandage the tattoo area.
Keep your tattoo dry and clean
Before touching your tattoo, make sure to have your hands thoroughly washed. Also, avoid dipping into hot tubs, swimming pools, lakes, or the ocean. They harbor bacteria that could infect your skin.
Avoid getting too wet
Do not expose the tattoo are to any water for longer than 10 minutes. This includes shower and bath.
Avoid soap for some time
Washing your tattoo with soap for the first few days could cause your skin to react.
Blot off blood
If traces of blood or plasma seep through the surface, blot them off with a clean towel. Remember to dab the towel on the wound, not wiping it across the skin.
Cleanse your tattoo twice a day
After the first day, the tattoo area needs to be cleansed in the morning and at night by alcohol or other skin cleansers. Rub some alcohol gently over your tattoo with your hand, since the cloth or cotton could be too abrasive for the new skin that is forming.
Apply antibiotic ointment
After cleansing your tattoo, put on some antibiotic ointment to the area when it’s dry. This should be done after every wash for the first two weeks of the healing period. There are many ointments available, but it is recommended to choose an ointment that contains bacitracin (or bacitracin zinc).
However, the zinc content may cause allergies on some people. Apply a little drop on an unnoticeable area of your skin just to make sure. After applying the ointment on your tattoo, wait five minutes and then gently blot off any blood that has risen to the surface. Make sure that you do not leave any trace of blood, as it will form a scab.
Stay away from petroleum jelly
Do not replace medicated ointment with petroleum jelly, as it supposedly damages the color of your tattoo.
Do not scratch your tattoo
At three to seven days into the healing period, the skin around the tattoo will start to peel like sunburn. As difficult as it might be, do not pick at the skin. You are only damaging your tattoo. After several days, the skin should have peeled away and left a shiny, wrinkly new skin.
Moisturize your skin
You can stop applying medicated ointment once new skin has formed and instead moisturize the area with unscented dry skin lotion.
Let your skin heal – If scabs appear on your tattoo, do not scratch it off. In due time, your skin will heal itself.