Tattooing : Tattoo Healing and
Over my personal history of being tattooed, I’ve heard many
variations on how to best heal a tattoo. Essentially, one must
keep the new tattoo from being soaking wet during the first
healing phase. Once the surface has scabbed, it’s best to keep
the area lightly moisturized for uniform shedding and to
Variations of this method are reported across a wide number of
tattooists. Initially, the just-finished tattoo is bandaged, but
even this carries differing methodologies. Some tattooists
bandage with gauze pads and masking tape, some smear on
antibiotic ointment and then cover with plastic wrap. Some say
to keep the tattoo covered for an hour or two, and some say for
the first twenty-four hours. My recommendation is to go with
what the tattoo artist said unless you’ve got a lot of tattoos
and have worked out a routine for yourself that goes best with
your individual healing process.
People with sensitivities to antibiotic ointments should avoid
their use, and be sure to tell your tattooist before they start
working on you! This helps avoid any accidental applications of
something containing a reactive ingredient. Some people don’t
use antibiotic creams at all unless the tattoo is actually
infected. This choice is up to the individual, as general
opinions are quite mixed on this topic.
A fresh tattoo is an open wound and soaking it in water should
be prevented as this is one of the main ways the tattoo can
become infected. Public water such as pools, hot tubs and
contaminated ocean water should all be avoided until the
tattooed skin is fully healed. New tattoos can also be easily
irritated by exposure to sunlight, sweat and by being rubbed by
clothing. Take care to protect the tattoo surface until the scab
has come off.
While the tattoo scabs, it can be quite itchy. Don’t scratch!
Picking at the scab or scratching can cause it to pull off, and
take some of the underlying ink with it. This is often called
“healing out” and essentially looks like blank spots in the
midst of the artwork. If a large enough spot heals out, it may
require a touchup visit to the tattooist.
Applying moisturizer to the tattoo can ease the itching. You can
use any hypoallergenic moisturizer, something like shea butter,
or a product specially formulated for tattoos. Those who are
looking for an organic product have the option of The Hemp
Company’s Tattoo Aftercare.
Once the scab has fallen off, the tattoo is considered healed.
Swimming and soaking is no longer a danger. Watch out for
mosquito bites on your tattoo. Scratching can cause the ink to
“heal out” and left missing spots in the artwork. Sunburn is the
greatest danger a tattoo faces, as this will prematurely fade
the color and blur the softer lines. Sunscreen or covering
clothing is highly recommended for your tattoo when out in the