Keeping tattoos looking good won’t get done automatically, tattoos need to be looked after carefully. The aftercare starts in the tattoo shop by your tattoo artist, right after your tattoo is done. It’s very important to not to remove the plastic wrap or Saniderm for a couple of hours, as it’s protects the open skin from bacteria, sunlight, and from friction.
The first wash
- First, always wash your hands before changing the bandage.
- Remove the bandage or plastic wrap, and gently wash the tattoo with antiseptic soap and lukewarm water. Don’t worry if your tattoo seems oozing ink or some sticky substance, it’s just the excess fluid and ink from the tattoo process.
- Dry the tattoo gently, you can use a clean paper towel also, and when the area is completely dry, apply fragrance-free lotion or Bepanthen cream evenly.
- Let your skin breath a bit, then use cling film to cover your tattoo.
Don’t worry, if the tattooed skin is a bit reddish for the first couple of days. The colors will become less vibrant also, as the healing process continues. Please avoid submerging the tattoo in water or getting the tattoo wet during the first 3–6 weeks, except for when washing it. Washing frequency varies depending on a person’s activity levels and environment. If you’re sitting in an office all day, you may only need to wash the tattoo 1-2 times a day. But if you’re working in a hot or dirty environment, or sweating all day, you may need to wash the tattoo every few hours.
“It is best to gently wash the tattoo with clean fingers only, without irritating the skin and prematurely remove any scabs that may have formed. Scabs often form in the first few days, and ink may still come up through the skin and need to be washed away. It is important not to pick the scabs or scratch the skin. Any redness or mild swelling usually goes away near the end of the first week.”
Around the beginning of the second week, the scabs will start to flake off. Please, be especially gentle with washing and moisturizing during this week, as it is easy to tear away scabs and damage the tattoo. The skin is likely to feel very itchy during this week, but it must not be scratched. Use some moisturizer – refrigerated moisturizer helps more – to relieve the itch.
The outer layers of skin should completely heal by the end of week three. Most of the scabs have flaked and fallen away by now, the rest and bits of dead skin may appear, but these will also clear up as the healing process continues. Scabs and flaking skin can cause the area to look dry, so apply some moisturizer, and protect the tattoo from the sun. The chance of infection is reduced once the outer layers of skin have healed, as there is no open wound for bacteria to infect.
In the following months moisturize the tattoo regularly, this will help keep it looking bright and clear. It’s extremely important to protect the tattoo from the sun while it is healing, and to apply sunscreen after it has healed, especially in the first few months.