Why aftercare matters
A tattoo is more than just a piece of art and a way to assert your personal style. It’s a medical procedure, because the artist uses a needle to insert the ink underneath your skin. Any time you open the skin, you leave yourself vulnerable to scarring and infections
Caring for your tattoo can prevent these complications and ensure that it heals properly. Both you and your artist play equal roles in this process. Along with going to a licensed and reputable tattoo artist, you need to take care of your new tattoo at home.
How to care for your tattoo
Aftercare starts as soon as your tattoo is done. The artist should apply a thin layer of petroleum ointment over the tattoo, and then cover the area in a bandage or plastic wrap. This covering prevents bacteria from getting into your skin. It also protects the tattoo from rubbing on your clothes and getting irritated.
Keep the dressing on for a few hours. It will help absorb any fluid or excess ink that leaks from the tattoo.
After a few hours, you can remove the bandage. Wash your hands first with lukewarm water and soap. Then gently wash the tattoo with fragrance-free soap and water.
Pat your skin dry with a soft cloth. Apply a small amount of petroleum ointment to the tattoo. You can keep the bandage off at this point to let your skin breathe.
While your tattoo heals, you should:
- wear sun-protective clothing whenever you go outside
- call your tattoo artist or doctor if you have any signs of infection or other problems
- cover your tattoo with sunblock until it’s fully healed
- scratch or pick at the tattoo
- wear tight clothing over the tattoo
- go swimming or immerse your body in water (showers are fine)