What not to do after a tattoo?
How to Take Care of a Tattoo: Common Questions Answered!
So you just got tattooed for the first time and you love your new tattoo, but you still have a ton of questions. Or maybe you’re a tattoo veteran and just need a refresher on how to care for your tattoos. Whatever your situation is, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of tattoo aftercare instructions that’s sure to give you all the answers you need.
How long does the tattoo healing process generally take?
Tattoo healing time varies depending on the person, though typically from the inking to the initial surface healing can take 7 – 14 days. However, your body is still regenerating skin cells after this, so it is important to continue moisturizing.
How long should I wait before removing the bandage?
Remove the bandage no sooner than 3-4 hours after, though it can also be left on overnight, especially if you received the tattoo in the evening. If you were tattooed early in the day, you may remove the bandage before going to bed. At most, the bandage should be removed within 24 hours of receiving the tattoo. We don’t recommend re-bandaging after the first bandage is removed.
There is a new type of bandage called Saniderm, which allows for quick, easy and clean healing of your tattoo. It is a thin, clear film that can stay on the tattooed area for as long as 5 days, and can be worn to bed and in the shower. Not all tattoo shops carry Saniderm, so it is recommended to ask the shop in advance, or bring your own if you wish to use this method.
How often should I clean my tattoo? What kind of soap should I use?
The tattoo should be thoroughly cleaned immediately after removing the bandage, and cleaned daily from there on out. We recommend cleaning it multiple times on the first day. Pat the tattoo dry (don’t rub it) with a lint-free cloth or paper towel to avoid irritation, and let the tattoo air out for 20-30 minutes before applying moisturizer. We recommend using a gentle, liquid antibacterial soap, such as Dial Antibacterial Soap, though other hand or body soaps can be used as long as they are thoroughly rinsed from the tattoo. You want to avoid excess absorption of water by the tattoo, so washings should be efficient and deliberate to minimize time. You can use antibacterial soap for the first 3-5 days and then regular soap or body wash is fine.
Should I apply lotion to my tattoo? What kind of tattoo care products do you recommend?
Yes! Moisturizing your tattoo regularly is extremely important. You should moisturize your clean tattoo 3 – 6 times per day, for roughly two weeks (though proper skincare is always important, and most tattoo enthusiasts moisturize their tattoos daily for life!). A white cream lotion or moisturizer, preferably unscented, should be used! We recommend these fragrance-free, white cream lotions: Aveeno, Curel, and Eucerin. Be warned: your favorite fragranced lotion is not a good option for moisturizing your tattoo – this can cause an excruciating burning sensation when applied to the tattoo, which is essentially an open wound. The fewer chemicals in the product, the better! Pure cocoa butter or shea butter is also popular for darker skin tones and is a fine option. There are some manufacturers who design products specifically for tattoo aftercare that work well for long-term care (such as Tattoo Goo, H2Ocean, and Hustle Butter). Do NOT use aloe vera gel to moisturize, and we don’t recommend A&D ointment either, as the oil in these products can extract some of the ink from your tattoo.
Should I expect tattoo peeling? How should I handle peels and scabs?
A well-done tattoo is expected to flake or peel much like a sunburn, though in some lower-quality tattoos, a level of tattoo scabbing is normal as well. Scabs are usually the same color as the tattoo ink. In high-density color tattoos, two or three stages of tattoo peeling is common and can take longer to heal than a single-color tattoo. Do not pick or peel the scabs because you may damage the design and have to get it retouched after it heals.
How can I tell if my tattoo is infected and what should I do if it is?
If your tattoo is scabbing or peeling in the days after you received it, this is NORMAL and no cause for alarm. However, infection is possible, especially if you do not clean your tattoo at least once daily. Persistent redness around the perimeter of the tattoo that lasts for several days is an indication of infection (normally, irritation should subside within the first day or two). A mild infection can be treated with an antibiotic ointment, which can be purchased from your local drugstore.
Can I get a staph infection from a new tattoo? What should I do if I think I have staph?
The short answer is yes, there is a possibility you can contract a staph infection from the tattoo process. However, a staph infection from tattooing is rare, and generally isolated to tattoos inked in an unclean environment. If your tattoo artist does not wear sterile gloves, use new, sterile needles, and disinfect the skin before inking, do NOT get a tattoo. If you already got inked and are experiencing staph-like symptoms, consult a doctor immediately. Symptoms generally include persistent painful red & irritated skin, swelling, and honey or amber-colored pus. Keep in mind that not all infections are staph infections, and can also result from improper tattoo aftercare.
Is there anything I should avoid while my tattoo is healing?
Yes. Although there are many healing techniques recommended, it’s commonly agreed upon that avoiding soaking for the first week is advisable. This includes swimming in pools, especially chlorinated pools, as the chlorine can bleach the color on your new tattoo. You should also avoid saunas, jacuzzis, or anything that leads to excess sweating during the first week. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided while healing.
If you received a tattoo at Majestic recently and have any questions regarding your tattoo, feel free to contact us via email or phone.
© 2022 Adal Ray Art | Sacred Tattoo 424 Broadway Second Floor NYC 10013 | Read the Majestic NYC Blog
6 Foods to Avoid After Getting a Tattoo
Unhealthy foods (e.g. food that has high fat or sugar content) should be avoided after you get a tattoo. as they can cause skin inflammation and interfere with the healing process. Examples include fresh sausage, smoked sausage and ham.
This recommendation stands true for anyone undergoing treatment for skin issues or anyone who is experiencing acute skin inflammation (which is common after getting a tattoo).
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, it is also important to ensure adequate tattoo aftercare, such as keeping your skin protected, avoiding scratching, and avoiding direct sun. Both of these combined will promote better healing and a more beautiful tattoo.
List of foods you should avoid
Examples of the main food to avoid include:
- Ready-made juices and sodas;
- Fried foods and fast food, such as chips, pastries and french fries
- Fast food
- Pork and processed meats such as fresh and smoked sausage, ham, bacon, mortadella and salami;
- Sweets, stuffed biscuits, cakes, ready-made cakes, chocolates, cereal bars;
- Instant noodles, stock cubes, ready to eat frozen meals, ice cream;
- Alcoholic beverages.
Excessive consumption of these foods increases inflammation and hinders the skin’s healing process. This type of diet can also lead to other health problems such as headaches, high cholesterol and diabetes. Ideally, these foods should not be eaten, and should not be consumed for at least 1 week after a surgery, piercing or tattoo.
What to eat to speed healing
To speed the healing process of the skin, you should consume foods rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as omega-3. Foods with the most antioxidant properties include tomatoes, red fruits, citrus fruits like orange, and herbs such as garlic, onion and saffron.
Anti-inflammatory foods are those rich in good fats, such as nuts, avocado, salmon, tuna, sardines, olive oil, peanuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and sesame seeds. In addition, drinking 1 to 2 cups of anti-inflammatory teas can also help with the healing process, and you may use herbs like chamomile, ginger and rosemary.
Tattoo aftercare considerations
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet post-tattoo, there are also aftercare considerations you need to keep in mind to ensure your tattoo heals properly. These include washing the area with a gentle soap for at least 2 weeks and avoiding sun exposure and swimming. Learn more about tattoo aftercare and what you can do to promote healing.
Finally, you should have the tattoo done in a reliable place, one that is certified and in which the material used during the procedure is totally sterilized. This is essential to avoid the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis and AIDS.
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Written and updated by Daisy Oliveira — Registered Nurse on December of 2021. Clinical review by Tatiana Zanin — Registered Dietitian, on December of 2021.
- EUR J CLIN NUTR. Consumption of sucrose-sweetened soft drinks increases plasma levels of uric acid in overweight and obese subjects: a 6-month randomised controlled trial. 2015. Available on: . Access in 23 Oct 2020
- ARQUIVOS BRASILEIROS DE ENDOCRINOLOGIA & METABOLOGIA. Papel da dieta na prevenção e no controle da inflamação crônica — evidências atuais. 2008. Available on: . Access in 23 Oct 2020
- PLOS ONE . Sucrose counteracts the anti-inflammatory effect of fish oil in adipose tissue and increases obesity development in mice. 2011. Available on: . Access in 23 Oct 2020
- INT WOUND J . Enhancement of Antioxidant Quality of Green Leafy Vegetables upon Different Cooking Method. 2016. Available on: . Access in 23 Oct 2020
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Graduated in Clinical Nutrition in 2001 and has a Master’s in Clinical Nutrition. Licensed to practice under the CRN-3 in Brazil and the ON in Portugal
How To Care For Your New Tattoo
After your tattoo is completed, your artist will bandage your tattoo for your trip home. Leave the bandage on for one to three hours. When you take the bandage off, wash it with very warm water (as hot as is comfortable) and mild liquid hand soap (like Dr. Bronner’s, Dial or Softsoap, just no perfumed or exfoliating body washes). Pat it dry gently with a paper towel, and let it air dry the rest of the way (never scrub the tattoo with a towel or sponge). Then you will apply a very small amount of Aquaphor Ointment or plain, unscented skin lotion (we recommend Aveeno, Lubriderm, Curel, or any of their generics) to the tattoo, just enough to lightly moisturize. Do not slather a big, thick coat of product over it; just enough for it to stay moist and flexible. If you are using Aquaphor, you can switch to a plain lotion after the first few days. Lotion is generally fine for everyone, your artist will recommend if you would benefit from ointment.
- Your first night sleeping, your artist might recommend you re-wrap the tattoo with plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap) to sleep without the tattoo sticking to your sheets. This is generally for larger or solid-color tattoos. If your artist did not recommend re-wrapping, just let the tattoo stay exposed to air overnight.
- Every day from then on, you will wash the tattoo in the morning and at night, and apply lotion 3 times a day or so, or whenever the tattoo feels dry or tight.
- Always wash your hands before touching the tattoo.
- DO NOT apply Vaseline, Neosporin, Bacitracin or any other medicated or perfumed product to your tattoo.
- After a few days, the tattoo will form a thin scab over it, and in about a week the scab will begin to flake off in the shower. DO NOT pick or scratch at the scab, just keep it clean and moist and the scabs will all fall off by themselves in about two weeks. Picking any of the scabs off will cause faded color and damage to the skin.
During healing do NOT:
- Wrap the tattoo after the first night (wearing breathable clothes over it is fine as long as they are not causing friction. (Keeping tattoos wrapped in plastic or bandages will stop air from getting to the tattoo, slow healing, and make gross stuff grow in there.)
- Submerge the tattoo in water. This means baths, pools and oceans. Regular showering is fine.
- Expose it to strong sunlight (Like outdoor activities or beach days. Walking to your car is fine)
- Shave over the tattoo (ouch!)
When all the scabs fall off and the skin feels smooth again to the touch, it is all healed and you can shave over it again, and swim and everything else. Sometimes after the scab falls off there is a secondary shiny, raised or waxy coat over the tattoo. This is just another healing layer of skin. Continue to moisturize it and it will smooth out by itself over time. If you have any questions about your tattoo while its healing you are always welcome to come by the shop and have us check it out, or email the artist who did the tattoo with «AFTERCARE» in the subject line for an immediate response.
If something doesn’t look perfect
After your tattoo is finished healing, we’ll do our best to make it right. Sometimes with excessive scabbing, or other unpredictable reactions during healing, your skin can reject some ink, leaving a «light spot» that is closer to your skin color in the tattoo (or a line might get thinner or lighter in one spot). This is common as its unlikely your body will accept every spot of pigment uniformly, so just contact your artist via email after your tattoo is finished healing with a photo to see if a small touch up is in order. Unless you were negligent during the care of your tattoo, touch-ups are very minor and quick, and guaranteed by our artists if you contact them about it within 3 months of getting the tattoo. Because older tattoos that have settled in fully and aged require more work to make uniform, we suggest coming in as soon as possible when it’s healed, as touch ups are performed for a fee at the artist’s discretion after 3 months.
While we deal with the healing of tattoos often, we are not doctors, and can only give guidelines on tattoo care, not medical advice. If your tattoo develops any type of rash or discharge during healing, do not hesitate to see a doctor.