Whether you like them or absolutely dread them, tattoos are here to stay. Literally.
While tattoos have been around for some time now, with firm evidence showing that tattooing is an ancient art, there are still divided opinions on how good or bad it is to get a tattoo.
There are several countries in the world that consider getting a tattoo on your body as a controversial or rebellious act.
But nowadays tattoos are rapidly becoming widely accepted and viewed as a beautiful piece of art or a symbol that has a great meaning for the bearer.
While pain is probably one of the first things that pop into your mind when you think of getting a tattoo there are a few other important things to consider once you have decided to get that cool design you’ve had in your head for a long time.
Adequate aftercare is crucial when it comes to ensuring that your skin heals well and the piece of art imprinted on it remains to look beautiful as you imagined it.
In this article, you will learn a few things you should know about how to take care of your skin after getting a tattoo.
1. Protect Your Tattoo While Having A Shower
The moment you get off the tattooist’s chair is when the first stage of healing begins.
The process of tattooing is done without anaesthetics as local, topically applied anaesthetics can potentially alter the skin texture, therefore this process can be followed by a slight to potentially significant pain depending on how large the tattooed area is.
It is not uncommon that your skin may react with a small amount of bleeding due to the one or more needles that pierce the skin repeatedly and insert tiny ink droplets with every puncture.
The area in which the ink has been injected into is an open wound and the skin will immediately start producing plasma so it can heal.
At this point, your artist will clean the area with antibacterial soap and wrap the tattoo for protection against bacteria entering into the skin.
Your artist will recommend you to remove the covering after a few hours depending on several factors but the general recommendation is to be left on as protection for a minimum of two hours.
This is the perfect time to be extra careful in gently removing the covering and wash the area with a mild soap that doesn’t contain any fragrances or alcohol.
Using lukewarm or cool water is generally recommended to avoid further discomfort and inflammation in the delicate area.
Hot showers, on the other hand, are to be avoided as hot water dilates the blood vessels and the skin will react by becoming red and inflamed.
You should continue to wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day using antibacterial soap and lukewarm water until it’s fully healed which can take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the size and the area the tattoo has been done on.
2. Apply A Gentle Moisturizer
It is generally recommended for a moisturizer to be applied three times a day, but you can always apply more than that as the last thing you want to do is leave your healing skin to become dry and feel tight.
It is also important not to smother your tattoo by using thick lotions or ointments.
If your skin feels dry and tight, make sure you always stick to applying a thin layer of moisturizing cream and follow it up a few more times throughout the day.
Do not suffocate your skin with a thick layer of moisturizer for the sake of saving yourself a little extra time and effort.
Make sure your hands are washed and perfectly clean before touching your tattoo.
Avoid using hand sanitizers to clean your hands before applying a moisturizer as they can further irritate the skin due to the high amounts of alcohol they contain.
Who even does that?! Yikes.
3. Do Not Expose Yourself On The Sun
Direct and prolonged exposure right after getting a tattoo is not recommendable. If you had just done a large piece over a multi-hour session your entire body and especially your skin may feel run-down as a way of dealing with the trauma.
For the first few days, expect your tattoo to be very sore and you may experience a feeling of a moderate to severe sunburn. Going out on the sun unless completely necessary will make the entire experience unpleasant.
The strong and damaging UV rays may cause your skin to blister and may also bleach the colors on your tattoo so it is best to keep your tattoo covered with breathable clothes while it’s healing.
Even after your tattoo has healed, the sun can still contribute to fading the colors, so it is always recommendable to use a high SPF to protect your tattoo.
4. Do Not Pick Your Flakes
As a part of the healing process, your tattoo will start to form thin scabs over it after a few days. You will be experiencing mild to moderate itching depending on the area you have the tattoo.
The scabs typically fall off by themselves after a couple of weeks.
A good tip on this would be to apply a moisturizer on your skin as it will most probably be itching mainly because of dryness.
Do not scratch or pull your flakes as this may remove the ink in the area and eventually lead to patches fading. It may also be the cause of an unwanted and painful infection because of the bacteria you have under your nails.
Gently tap the spot that is itching instead or scratching it.
If the itching is unbearable and you notice persisting redness around the scales seek medical advice. Infected tattoos are very rare, but it can happen.
If you are concerned about something it is always worth checking it out.
Can You Get An Infection After Getting A Tattoo?
Although rare when the skin is properly taken care of, infections after getting a tattoo may occur because the protective barrier of the skin has been broken, thus allowing bacteria inside.
It is important to be responsible for taking care of your skin after getting a tattoo. By scratching you can cut through the damaged skin and push bacteria from under your nails into the skin.
Bacterial and viral infections such as hepatitis B, C, herpes simplex, and the most dangerous HIV can be transmitted through contaminated equipment such as poorly cleaned machines between uses or using of needles that should be disposable as well as contaminated ink.
It is of utmost importance that for everyone’s safety – including yours – to do your research before deciding to get a tattoo and choose a licensed and reputable artist in a salon setting.
Besides this, in rare cases, getting a tattoo can cause infections if you have a weakened immune system or allergies to inks, pigment, and dyes.
There are specific molecules called haptens which are prevalent in some colors such as green, blue, and red that can trigger an allergic reaction that requires medical attention and treatment.
Why Do Tattoos Hurt?
Ouch! They do, don’t they?
Ever wondered how deep does the needle go to deposit the ink and make it permanent?
It goes in the dermis, the layer of skin that lies beneath and it is the chief supportive section of the epidermis which is the outermost layer that we see.
The epidermis is constantly producing new skin cells and shedding the old, dead skin cells. If tattoo ink were to be placed there, it would only last about a month before disappearing.
Cells inside the dermis do not replace themselves in the same way and that is why the dermis is much thicker than the epidermis. This thick layer of skin is the ideal spot for permanent pigment.
Besides being the “sweet spot” for installing a permanent image, the dermis also contains several nerve endings including the cold, heat, touch, pressure, and pain.
And while the body’s immune cells react to being pricked with a needle, the molecules of the tattoo ink are too big for the cells to deal with. This is what makes tattoos permanent.
Before You Get A Tattoo…
Having a good meal before your tattoo appointment is especially important so your body can handle the undergoing of constant physical trauma, especially if you are getting a large piece done.
You have to make sure that your body will have the energy to push through as constant pain shreds your energy level.
Shaving at home right before your tattoo appointment is probably not a good idea because chances are you will already sweat a little by the time you make it to the salon.
Truthfully, I can personally vouch for this, and it is not a pleasant thing to experience.
If you have the tiniest bit sensitive skin, razor bumps will appear by the time you are on the chair and ready to start, which will make the entire process more painful and uncomfortable for both yourself and your artist.
Tattoos are super cool and meaningful. But it is always important to take a precaution even when all you are doing is decorating your body with fine art as a mean to express yourselves.
This article explains six easy ways on how to take care of your skin after getting a tattoo.
Trying to cope with my obnoxious acne breakouts forced me into finding a solution to my problem by pursuing a career in the beauty industry. Today, I’m a certified esthetician & I’m passionate about sharing what I know to help you achieve healthy, glowing skin. You can learn more about me here.