Have you recently got your first tattoo, but you’re unsure how best to look after it, or you’re just looking for some tattoo aftercare tips? I’m going to share a selection of recommendations that will help your new ink heal, and reduce discomfort whilst healing.
Wherever you choose to get your tattoo, your tattoo artist will give you some aftercare tips and usually a recommendation of a specific product to use to heal your new tattoo. When I had my first tattoo, the tattoo artist recommended Bepanthen which is a well known antiseptic cream you can pick up in most drugstores and supermarkets.
However Bepanthen is no longer the number one recommended treatment for tattoo aftercare thanks to a change in the ingredients. The newer formula is said to have a higher concentrate of lanolin which is known to be an irritant to new tattoos but there are other options out there if you do want to try something else to help look after your new ink. According to some tattoo artists, Bepanthen can cause a marbled effect to your tattoo as it is a nappy cream after all.
Tattoo Aftercare – the first seven days
Once you’ve finished being inked, the tattoo artist will clean your new tattoo to remove any remnants of blood and apply a generous amount of their chosen aftercare cream, and then wrap the tattoo up to protect it for you. The aftercare advice you’re given will differ depending on your tattoo studio, but always follow your tattoo artist’s recommendations, and most will give you some sort of aftercare leaflet or printout that you can take away with you.
Advice does differ on how soon you should remove your protective wrapping from your tattoo, but many recommend waiting at least 24 hours before removing the cling film or cloth the tattoo artist used to wrap your tattoo. I removed my cling film wrapper the following morning after my tattoo, and I felt better knowing it had a little protection overnight for the first night. Once you’ve removed your protective wrapper, it’s important to gently clean your tattoo with a non-perfumed antibacterial wash or soap between 3-5 times a day, for the first three to five days after having your tattoo.
You should always ensure your hands are thoroughly clean and free from bacteria whenever touching your tattoo, and whenever you clean your tattoo, gently use your fingers to clean the area and not a cloth as it’s too abrasive and could potentially damage your new tattoo. Once you’ve cleaned your tattoo and surrounding area, you need to very gently pat the area dry. I preferred to use a piece of kitchen towel to absorb any residual moisture, and there’s no lint like you’d get with towels or cloths.
It is recommended that you allow your tattoo to air dry where possible for the first week, before you apply your chosen aftercare balm or cream. You need to be quite sparing with the application, and remove any excess product so the site doesn’t become too moist. They recommend you don’t have baths for the first month after having a tattoo as you need to try and keep your tattoo as dry as possible whilst healing.
The healing process can take anything from a week to a few months depending on how large, and intricate your tattoo is. It’s so important to be patient, and never to pick the scabs should they appear as you could end up removing ink from your skin. It will become very itchy, that’s just part of the healing process but resist the urge to itch at all costs!
Tattoos can become infected during the whole healing process, so it’s important to make sure you’re always very mindful with your tattoo aftercare, ensuring you’re always keeping it clean. You need to know the signs of an infected tattoo, so you can seek medical attention or return to the tattoo studio where you got your tattoo for advice. Symptoms of an infected tattoo include; rash, redness or bumps in the tattoo area, worsening in swelling, a fever, increase in pain, or obvious signs like pus.
Hopefully these tattoo aftercare tips were useful, and you now know how to look after your new tattoo.