A Tattoo is an open wound.
It must be treated with care in order to prevent unwanted complications during healing.
It is necessary to prevent bacteria and other pathogens from entering into the wound.
Cleanliness of the new tattoo is always the first priority of tattoo aftercare.
We also want to make sure the pigment is retained within the skin, so that your art work looks just as good as when it was first applied. We do this by avoiding irritants and preserving the skins elasticity so it can repair the wound as the body naturally does.
Here are some of our artists recommendations on caring for your healing tattoo.
Aftercare is an important part of a clients responsibility, but aftercare education, is happily ours.
WHEN YOU GET HOME
Leave the bandage in place for the amount of time your artist has recommended for you. (on average most artists will make a suggestions of anywhere from 1-3 hours). Your artist bandages the tattoo after a procedure to allow the tattoo to have a safe clean place to settle after the procedure and on your way home where you will be able to start your aftercare. When you remove the bandage it is important to clean the tattoo area. There may be dried blood, excess pigment, and a variety of normal wound fluids. Clean all excess fluid and debris from your tattoo and the surrounding area, so they do not become dried and to prevent the formation of scabs, and other crusty material on the surface of your tattoo.
Here is how to properly clean your tattoo.
Always wash your hands before handling your tattoo.
Always wash your tattoo by hand. Never use a washcloth, fiberous materials like towels, bath puffs or luffas to wash your tattoo.
Use clean warm water, and fragrance free antibacterial hand soap.(see your artist for alternative product recommendations) Gently wet, and lather the tattoo and surrounding skin, and rinse with cool water.
Allow the tattoo to either air dry, or you may gently use a clean, dry paper towel to pat the excess moisture off
Moisturizing your tattoo after cleaning it, will help the tattoo to maintain its elasticity so that the skin retains its range of motion during healing. Allowing the tattoo to become overly dry while it heals and sheds the damaged skin and excess pigment can cause cracking, scabbing, and discomfort in some people. Moisturizing is recommended. Some preferred products from our artists, include:
- Some oil based ointments, (like Aquaphore),
-water based fragrance fee lotions (like Lubriderm)
-organic plant based oils (like coconut oil).
Every person will have unique skin care needs and different lifestyle choice, so talk to your tattoo artist about your options and personal recommendations for your skin and you. We do not advise that you use medicated products on your tattoo, as they may have adverse effects on pigment retention. (NO neosporin, or bacitracin).
WASH, DRY and MOISTURIZE
your new tattoo 2-3 times a day
for the next two weeks
Some redness, tenderness, or minor swelling is normal for the first 1-3 days.
You may experience mild itching as the tattoo begins to dry out and peel the damaged surface layers of skin. Most tattoos will peel or flake those outer layers of dead skin, with some excess pigment in them after the first 5-10 days of healing.
Healing can differ with the person, the artist, skin type, tattoo location, and style and extent of the tattoo work.
Never pick or scratch at your healing tattoo.
Never expose your healing tattoo to the sun, or tanning beds.
Never submerge or soak your healing tattoo in water. (this includes pools, hot tubs, oceans, lakes, and bathtubs…etc.) Normal showering and tattoo cleansing is fine.
Do Not rebandage or confine your tattoo to an ubreathable state.(Healing tissue needs airflow) If you have specific work realated concerns that may warrant special aftercare conditions, discuss them with your tattoo artist before and after your tattoo appointment.
Since medical abnormalities or conditions such as Diabetes, Thyroid concerns, Immune compromization, Allergies, Auto Immune disorders,… and many others can effect the way the body heals wounds, ( and in turn cause serious health complications) Please, please, please, bring relevant medical information to the attention of your tattoo artist, before getting tattooed. In some cases, consulting with your medical professional may be needed to determine if getting tattooed is a healthy choice for you.
At anytime you become concerned of signs of infection in a healing tattoo, please seek professional medical advice.
Questions and concerns are only a phone call or e-mail away. When in doubt, please don’t hesitate to ask!
I got a tattoo done else where by another tattoo artist, and they gave me different after care instructions: why?
After care instructions can vary from artist and shop. We don't all tattoo the same way, or use the same tools and products. We also know that skin, lifestyles and daily habits can vary with each client.
Solid professional aftercare advice should include: bandage removal instructions, how your artists recommends you clean your tattoo and the length of the routine they recommend, what not to do with a healing tattoo, a product recommendation that suits your needs and skin, and should include professional answers to any and all of your questions and concerns.
IF you've had good results with recommendations from other artists... GREAT!
IF you've had trouble healing tattoos with recommendations from other artists... we can tailor your after care to help problem solve any of your normal issues.
The best rule of thumb is to take in consideration the professional advice for care from the artist that has done the work your currently healing, because they will know their work and its normal healing habits the best.
Please check with your tattoo artist before using aftercare advice/practices of friends, family and other non-professionals.
It looks like there is INK peeling off of my tattoo when I wash or moisturize it. Is that normal, or is my tattoo falling out?
Your skin is healing a wound. When there is healing to do, your skin will replace damaged tissue with new intact skin cells. Since the top 3 layers of your skin (the epidermis) normally do this regularly, those layers and any pigment that has been put there will shed, peal, or flake ( the extent depending on the tattoo) along with any tattoo pigment that is trapped in them, during the second half of your healing process as it makes new layers underneath. Under normal circumstances the pigment that is further down, in the lower-dermis, will remain there, since those lower layers don't shed like the upper-dermis.
An old school terms for this is sometimes "scabbing" though they aren't really scabs unless you've damaged the tissue much more than it should be. Sometimes it can be minimal, or sometimes substantial.
What we typically dont want to see is bleeding or oozing after the first 48 hours, heavy cracking, or dense scabbing from platelets.
Don't panic, but check in with us, so we can help rule out any irritants, problematic behaviors or habits, reactions to products and outside injuries to the healing tattoo, by taking a look and going over your aftercare routine with you. We may be able to make helpful adjustments and avoid the need for a touch up.
I took the bandage off and theres a lot of wetness, and ink. Is something wrong?
Nope. When you take the bandage off that the artist has covered it with, you can expect there to be a variety of wound fluids that the tattoo has collected under the bandage, along with some minimal blood, and some excess pigment.
Just be sure to clean your tattoo well immediately after removing the bandage, to remove the fluids and pigment. Don't allow them to dry on and adhere to the healing skin to form any unnecessary crusting.
Can I leave my tattoo bandaged for a longer amount of time?
We don't recommend leaving your tattoo bandaged for an excessive amount of time. It will need to be cleaned, and allowing it to breath is important. We also don't want to trap and keep bacteria in and around the wound.
If your planning on being out in a public place immediately after the tattoo is bandaged by the artist (or maybe at the tattoo studio while a friend gets theirs done also), you can leave the bandage on to protect it from contact with other people, and other normal interactions that may not be the best for a fresh tattoo. (Grocery store, or the Pub, or to CVS for ointment). Your bandaged tattoo will be ok for a few hours if need be.
IF you have a reason you would not be able to accommodate proper aftercare in the following hours, we suggest you plan your tattoo for a time where it is possible to do so.
My friend/roommate/family member has some ointment leftover from their tattoo. Is ok if I use it?
Product Recommendations are good.
Product sharing, is NOT.
We encourage everyone to find a product that works well for them, and to keep the tube, or tin, or bottle just for your tattoos. When you apply an aftercare products dispense it with clean hands, so your not putting bacteria into the container. Using your own product will help reduce the risk of sharing infection causing bacteria, or the sharing of commutable diseases. Blood borne disease like hepatitis can be spread thru open wounds, as well as funguses like ringworm, herpes cold sores, etc.
Be safe, not sorry.
Can I still shower?
You can definitely still shower. We do suggest avoiding extremely hot showers, long showers, and putting your new tattoo directly into a stream of high pressure water for the first few day to keep irritation to a minimum.
We also recommend avoid cleansing the healing tattoo with any products that may be heavily scented, contain medicated ingredients, or bar soap that can harbor bacteria in the shower.
Soaking, or bathing in a tub, just like swimming, and pools, can damage a healing tattoo. Don't allow the healing tattoo to soak.
If you shave, avoid shaving over and around an area that is healing until the tattoo has finished pealing or is completely healed.
When should I re-bandage my tattoo?
Unless your tattoo artist has given you specific instruction for an ocation that rebandaging would be recommended or necessary, its best NOT to re-bandage and let your healing tattoo breath.
Porus materials wont help as a barrier for bacteria, and some fiber-is materials can become attached or stuck into healing tissue and bond to moisture.
New tattoos will sometimes push out some extra moisture/fluid and pigment the first night while you sleep. If this is something that is problematic for you, you can ask your tattoo artist for tips on minimizing any damage to bedding or clothing the first night.
Re-bandaging a new tattoo improperly can trap harmful bacteria in the wound, lead to infection, too much moisture causing maceration of tissue, pigment fall out, and extended healing times.
We can also give you some career specific tips, for appropriate methods of protecting your healing tattoo, example: avoiding ointment and pigment stains on white collar work shirts; cutting down friction under uniforms or kevlar vests; working with exposed wounds in healthcare, child care, kitchen jobs, and other high contact careers; working in areas with high debris or contaminates, pets, gyms, and other irritants; out door jobs and sun exposure, and for traveling with healing tattoos.
Ive heard about waterproof breathable bandages for tattooing that you leave on the entire heal time. Can I use one?
There are several companies that offer bandaging products like these, that now have been branded and marketed to tattoo studios. They have been available previously for purchase and use in the medical community as breathable and water resistant, adhesive based long term bandage options.
With our efforts focused on the fact that every clients aftercare needs can vary, we currently use traditional bandaging techniques in most cases.
Products like these can be purchased by the public, for self application If you have interest in using a product like this for your after care routine, just chat with your tattoo artist about proper use and application, healing expectations, and any other recommendations or changes in care with its use.
Product instructions can vary depending on brand, almost all, recommend a bandage change after the first 24 hrs.
If I have product sensitivities, will my tattoo heal ok if I choose to not use ointment or lotion on it?
For those with extreme product sensitivities we can make recommendations that are hypoallergenic or natural products.
The only objective of applying an ointment or lotion is to keep the skin hydrated enough to maintain elasticity for normal movement and bending, so that no cracking occurs splitting healing tissue or creating deeper open wounds.
It is possible for some types of tattoos to forgo the moisture and we refer to it as a "dry heal". The more surface area that is healing, more concentrated areas of color, thicker the lines, or higher the movement the body part gets, the more difficult it becomes to do properly without complications.
If your considering a "dry heal" method because of sensitivities please have a conversation with your artist about alternative product recommendations and any risks involved with this healing technique, and what to expect.
Moisture is Recommended.
Can I put ____________ on my tattoo?
We dont recommend any product that is medicated, or has a lot of added fragrance. (this includes soaps, body washes, even men's : like axe, Irish spring, old spice etc.)
We do not recommend the use of topical antibiotics (or triple antibiotics) like Neosporin, Bacitracin, or other products containing zinc, unless other wise directed to by your medical professional because of an infection.
We do not recommend just straight petroleum jelly ("vas-o-line") Vasoline as a brand does sell hand lotion thats fine. Old School A&D (diaper rash ointment) isn't our first recommendation for a tattoo product because its so heavy, but applied in thin appropriate layers will keep your tattoo moisturized with out complications for most skin types.
Any petroleum based ointment should only be applied in thin layers, where it is only tacky. Heavy, glossy, gooey layers are excessive and block airflow, and trap too much body moisture.
Any white water based fragrance free hand lotion is acceptable for most skin types especially if protroleum product tend to cause break outs.
Most natural oils that are approved for skin use like coconut oil are fine, but we do not recommend most concentrated essential oils because they can be too harsh on an open wound. Most manufactures of essential oils will not recommend certain products be use on open wounds, or broken skin. Some oils like coconut oil, has the added benefits of being antibacterial. There are many other natural alternatives. You can ask your artist if you have one in mind.
There are many retail products made for tattoo aftercare, that can be purchased from tattoo shops, supply companies, tattoo conventions, or online.
Products that are made for tattooing can sometimes vary from those tested for long term aftercare, or use on an open wound. please read the manufactures suggested uses, and instructions. Please remember to check ingredients for allergens. Bees wax can cause a reaction in those that are bee venom sensitive, and lanolin is a wool derived product that can cause reactions in those sensitive to wool.
While sunscreen and other sun protection products are recommended to protect your tattoo from damaging UV rays, we dont recommend applying them to your healing tattoo while it is still an open wound, or healing. Most sun screen lotions don't recommend the use on broken skin or open wounds, and may cause irritation to the healing tattoo.
Can I spray tan my healing tattoo?
Please do not spray tan over a healing tattoo.
Its also best not to get a spray tan before a tattoo appointment. It gives us trouble prepping skin, applying stencils properly, and tattooing. (and we end up wiping most of your tan off anyway)
Are spa treatments ok for a healing tattoo?
You'll want to refrain from a Pedicure or foot spa treatment with a healing foot tattoo: Manicures and hand spa treatments with healing hand or finger tattoos: Massage/bodywork/and other spa treatments that involve hand contact and spa products in areas that you are healing a tattoo. Chiropractic adjustments and medical exams like physicals that are clothed are usually ok, though you may want to make your practitioner aware before they handle a healing tattoo. Avoid shared public equipment that can contaminate a healing tattoo. Refrain from the use of saunas, and other heat and moisture creating spa treatments, or anything that soaks a healing tattoo.
Hair appointments that involve blow-dry, heat, washing, dying, cutting or shaving near a neck or behind the ear tattoo can cause irritation during healing.
Tanning beds are a huge no no, for a healing tattoo.
Is there anything I can do to help manage swelling?
Some people are more prone to swelling than others, as well as some body parts being more likely to swell.
If you are experiencing minor or moderate swelling, you can take an anti-inflamitory or product that you would normally use for swelling, after the tattoo.
Cooling a swollen area with ice can help reduce swelling. Place a clean barrier, like a piece of plastic wrap over the tattoo between it and an ice pack, to prevent bacteria contact if your using reusable ice packs, or anything from your freezer.
Keeping your new tattoo elevated will help, as well as not using or placing pressure on a limb that is swollen, especially extremities.
If you have a job or other responsibilities that require you to stand for long hours, and you are know to be prone to swelling, we suggest you plan your tattoo to allow time off of that limb the first few days, especially for hands, feet, and ankles etc.
Swelling that worsens, or persists more than the first few days should be advised by a medical professional.
Is there anything I need to change with my workout routine?
If a gym or workout is in your regular routine:
We usually suggest avoiding public /shared equipment coming in direct contact with your fresh tattoo. Most sweat covered germ-wicking gym clothes wont act as a barrier from bacteria, or things like ringworm or other fungus that could come in contact with your open wound.
We also usually will suggest taking it easy on a particular muscle group that was recently tattooed, for the first 1-3 days, to allow it reduce any swelling or major irritation.
IF you are a professional or amateur Athlete, or Physical Fitness is your career:
Talk with your tattoo artist before scheduling your appointments. Most often we will just provide some recommendations for accommodating career based activities and after care. Contact Sports, Sparing , Intense Training for Marathons, Competitions, Swimming, Outdoor sports and other physically high demanding activities may warrant scheduling around activities to allow enough heal time for new tattoos.
Can I go swimming with my new tattoo?
Your healing tattoo needs to stay out of water until it is healed. That means no swimming pools, no hot tubs, waterparks, lakes, rivers, or oceans. There are a number of reasons water activities are no good for healing tattoos. We never want to soak a healing tattoo. We also want to keep harsh chemicals like chlorine away from it, and natural bodies of water have their own variety of microbes that can cause potential problems for an open wound including sickness, and infections.
Is it ok for my healing tattoo to be in the SUN?
A new tattoo needs to be protected from the sun during healing. Refrain from sun exposure on your healing tattoo, by keeping it covered with loose, breathable articles of clothing while you are outside or it is exposed to rays.
Sunscreen products are excellent for AFTER your tattoo has healed.
Also keep in mind that we can not tattoo sunburned or pealing skin.
I woke up, and my tattoo is stuck to my clothing or bedding. What do I do?
Dont panic, don't rip them apart, leave the fabric attached as much as you can, and make your way to a source of water. Gently wet the tattoo, and the fabric. They will loosen as soon as they are both wet. Massage in soap if need be and gently separate the fabric from the tattoo. For a harder to reach location or less mess, you can do this in the shower.
How can I tell if I am having a reactions to a pigment, or aftercare product?
There are two types of skin reactions we can look for. A dermatitis reaction, or an allergic reaction.
An allergic reaction is your body's immune response to a foreign substance that it deems a threat. Any allergic reaction's visible or experienced symptoms can vary from person to person. They can include anaphlaxia like symptoms, but more commonly minor skin reactions.
Dermatitis reactions are the skins way of responding to a sensitivity or irritation. Both reactions can display symptoms in the skin, in or around a healing tattoo.
Typically an allergic reaction to a tattoo ink will show signs of pigment rejection with in the first few days. Burning, itching, redness, swelling, and irritation are common symptoms of pigment reactions. Usually a single color will display this through the tattoo at the same time, while other colors are healing fine.
Similar symptoms that effect the whole tattoo, or area surrounding the healing tattoo are usually more likely to be reactions or irritations from tattoo products from the procedure, like soaps, antiseptics, gloves, ointment, or tape adhesives, or from aftercare products like soap, lotions, or ointments.
Dermatitis reactions, or sensitivities to products will display skin symptoms, but will clear up when their use is discontinued.
Pigment reactions, because the pigment is permanently place into the skin, will worsen or persist, and will continue to attempt to reject pigment, not allowing the tattoo to heal. This also can increase the risk of infection.
Some individuals with certain skin types, do not do well with heavier products, and petroleum based ointments. Some small red bumps (like pimples) can apear on or around the tattoo.
If you are concerned about potential reactions, due to skin sensitivities talk with your tattoo artist before getting tattooed for additional information.
If you have a tattoo aftercare related question in regards product reaction, send us an e-mail with photos, give us a call, or stop in so we can see whats going on. If you believe you may be having a severe allergic reaction to something, please seek medical help immediately.
How will I know if my tattoo becomes infected?
Some redness, tenderness, or minor swelling is normal for the first 1-3 days.
You may experience mild itching as the tattoo begins to dry out and peel the damaged surface layers of skin.
What we typically DON'T want to see is bleeding or oozing after the first 48 hours, heavy cracking, or dense scabbing from platelets; swelling that is severe, worsens or persists more than the first few days: severe or worsening pain, or pain that continues past the first few days.
Signs of infection that may need medical advice or attention might include, red irritated and swollen tissue around the tattoo area (that last more than the first few days); lesions, boils, puss filled vestibules; wound tissue that is not originally from the tattoo, in or around the area, yellow or green fluids or seepage in or around the tattoo area; foul smelling or macerated tissue; burning, or severe itching not related to normal pealing.
There are many ways tattoos can become infected from; not washing hands properly when handling your new tattoo, and cleaning it or applying ointment with out washing hands; other people touching it, coming in contact with harmful bacteria in public places like the gym, hospitals, things in the home; contaminated after care; dirty bedding, or soiled towels: pet scratches, saliva, or dander or fur in your clothes, bed, and home: ; contaminated water sources; general irritation can also slow down the healing process allowing for more time to support bacteria growth in the wound while it is open.
If you believe or are concerned that your tattoo may have become infected, please seek medical attention promptly.
If you have any additional questions regarding concerns and aftercare, do not hesitate to ask!