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How To Take Care of a Tattoo

Once the excitement – and pain – of getting your new tattoo starts to wear off, the reality of tattoo aftercare ensues.

Luckily, taking proper care of a tattoo requires only a few super-simple aftercare instructions that we’ll outline today.

The external portion of your new tattoo should heal in two to four weeks, depending on the size, location, and complexity of the artwork. What you do during that month will determine how well your skin heals and how your tattoo shapes up over time.

Let’s get right down to business with what you should do before the needle touches your skin.

Prevention is the Best Cure: Speak to Your Artist about Allergies Be sure to speak with your tattoo artist about any allergies you have. Let them know if you’ve got any sensitivities, and they’ll be able to advise you accordingly. If you’re allergic to latex or red ink, be sure to mention it.

Before you Leave the Tattoo Shop

We’ll hit fast forward now and imagine you stepping out of the chair freshly inked.
At this point, your tattoo is effectively an open wound. Your primary goal is to prevent infection, so it’s vital to cover the tattoo area immediately afterward.
Different artists use different materials for covering fresh ink. With dri-loc pads or plastic wrap, you should be able to leave the covering in place for about 24 hours. Saniderm and other dedicated solutions allow you to leave the bandage on for up to five days.
Don’t leave infection up to chance. Ask your tattoo artist how long you need to keep your new tat covered, then stick to this advice.

Keep Your Tattoo Covered

Before you leave the shop, your tattoo artist will clean the area and slather it with antibacterial lotion before covering it with plastic wrap or bandage.
As a benchmark, keep the covering in place for five hours before washing it. Whatever you do, resist the temptation to peel back the bandage and check out your new design.
Take the bandage or wrap off as advised. If you leave it on for too long, the ink might bleed out, and you’ll actually heighten the risk of infection.

Learn How to Wash Your New Tattoo Properly

Soap and water are all you need to keep your new tattoo clean and sterile. Your first washing will be about five hours or so after you leave the tattoo shop.
Start by washing your hands thoroughly, because you’ll be cleaning the area with your fingers rather than a sponge or loofah. Make sure your hands are spotless.
Mix some mild, hypoallergenic soap and lukewarm water in your hand. Use your fingers to cleanse the tattooed area – very gently. Disregard any sticky substance oozing out; it’s just the residual ink and fluid from tattooing.
Rather than bathing your skin in water, cup your hand and manually ladle the lukewarm water over the area sparingly. Thoroughly washing your skin at this stage will reduce the likelihood of premature scabbing.
Use a paper towel to pat your skin dry, then allow the air to finish drying your skin naturally over the following hour.
Wash your tattoo in this manner two or three times daily for several weeks.

Keep Your Skin Moisturized

After you’ve washed your tattoo, apply a very thin layer of moisturizing cream. Speak with your tattoo artist for specific recommendations.
Refrain from using too much moisturizer because it can cause more problems than it solves.
Exercise a light touch. Give your tattooed skin and the surrounding area all the hydration it needs as it heals. Proper light moisturizing can speed healing while ensuring your tattoo resists fading for as long as possible.
Moisturize the area daily for the first month.

Keep Your Tattoo Clean and Dry

Obviously, you’ll need to wash your tattoo, so keeping it completely dry is impractical. When you do wash it, though, follow the above guidelines for doing so safely and effectively.
Shower rather than immersing yourself in a bath, if possible. And limit your showers to no more than five minutes to avoid soaking your tattoo excessively.
If you find your tattoo rubbing against your clothing, use some clingfilm or gauze to keep it covered.
Keeping your tattoo clean will minimize any chance of infection. By avoiding unnecessary soaking of the skin, you’ll also speed healing time.
Stay Out of Direct Sun and Apply Sunscreen
Going out in the direct sunlight without sunscreen is inadvisable, period. When you’ve got a new tattoo, you should be even more careful.
Ideally, stay out of the sun altogether when you’re newly inked. If you must venture outside, use a sunscreen with a high SPF (sun protection factor). Avoid the sun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., as much as possible.

Don’t Pick Scabs

Scabbing and flaking is a normal part of the tattoo healing process.
But no matter how irritating your skin feels at this stage, do not pick at it or scratch it. You risk patches of tattooed skin fading or pulling away completely. Instead of scratching, try slapping the surrounding skin lightly for temporary relief.
Itching generally comes and goes quite quickly, so be disciplined and leave your skin alone to heal naturally, and the scabs will fall away on their own.

Don’t Overlook a Healthy Lifestyle

Many people neglect to prioritize health and nutrition. But the stronger your immune system, the more swiftly your body will heal itself after getting a tattoo.
Eat well, exercise moderately, and keep yourself hydrated, drinking at least two liters of water each day.
If you don’t think you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need, speak with your healthcare provider about taking supplements.

Limit Strenuous Activity

You should hold back on hitting the gym hard for a month after you get tattooed. If your tat covers an unusually large surface area or it’s near your joints, straining that skin too much will hinder healing.
If you’ve got a job involving physical activity, take at least a couple of days off work. This time will give your newly inked skin the best chance of starting the healing process the right way.

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