While tattoo artists do their job to keep your tattoo healthy and clean, when you leave the shop with fresh ink, they pass along the responsibility to you. There are a couple of things that you should do to ensure the safety of your tattoo, however, there are way more things that you should NEVER do. Let this article be your guide to healing a tattoo and preventing infection or irritation. Then let us know what you think of our Dos and Don'ts in the comments section on Facebook.
Also thanks to model Anya Sugar for illustrating this article. We're of course not saying that she's breaking any of the rules, but she does make one hell of a visual guide.
1. Go Swimming.
Under no circumstances should you go swimming in a pool, lake, river or ocean with a fresh tattoo. The bacteria found in open water can lead to very serious infections and in some cases, death.
2. Go to the Gym.
Excess sweating, whether it's in a gym or a sauna, is a big no-no with a fresh tattoo. Additionally, gyms carry a host of germs and bacteria that can be fatal for a fresh tattoo.
3. Go in a Hot Tub.
Although hot tubs are "cleaner" than an ocean, the chemicals in them can be extremely dangerous to a fresh tattoo. Also, we doubt that bubbling hot water will feel too good on a healing tattoo.
4. Go in Direct Sunlight.
Direct sunlight, whether it be through tanning, outdoor exercise or otherwise, can be damaging to both fresh and healed tattoos. However, a healing tattoo is especially vulnerable to sun damage and it's best to save the tanning for after the tattoo is healed. Also, you cannot put sunscreen onto a fresh tattoo, but once it's healed we highly recommend it.
5. Let People or Animals Touch Your Tattoo.
Again, fresh tattoos are like open wounds and extremely susceptible to infections. Don't let people or animals come into direct contact with a fresh tattoo, even if they beg!
6. Take a Bath.
Submerging your tattoo in water is a big no-no and the chemicals or added scents in soaps can irritate fresh ink. Stick to taking showers and avoiding the tattoo with water during the healing process.
7. Get Your Tattoo Wet in the Shower.
While it may be difficult, avoid getting your tattoo wet while in the shower. This may not be possible for every tattoo and it will certainly be awkward, but its better to be safe than sorry.
8. Shave On or Around the Tattoo.
Shaving on or around your fresh tattoo is off limits during the healing process. Seriously, don't do it because you can and will regret it.
9. Use Scented Soaps and Lotions.
When you're moisturizing your tattoo or showering, try avoiding any products that have added scents. You want to stick to the most mild, gentle and basic products to avoid unnecessary irritation.
10. Over Moisturize.
During the healing process, use as little tattoo ointment as possible. We promise, less is more in this situation. Over moisturizing can cause irritation and even infection, so its best to be frugal with your ointment.
11. Remove the Bandage Too Soon.
Listen to your artist and follow their instructions for how long you should keep the bandage on. Whether they recommend taking it off a few hours after the tattoo or the next day, pay close attention to their advice. Additionally, after taking off the bandage or saniderm, do not put it back on or even put a new bandage on. Your tattoo needs to breathe and leaving a bandage on (especially an old one) can suffocate it.
12. Pick or Scratch the Scabs.
During the healing process, your tattoo will get scabby and flaky. DO NOT PICK THE SCABS. Seriously, this can screw up the tattoo that you spent time, money and pain getting done. If you scratch or pick the scabs, it can pull the ink out and you'll be left with an unsaturated hole in the middle of your tattoo. If your tattoo feels itchy, which it will, you can pat your tattoo to relieve the sensation.