Getting a tattoo is all nice and good. They look cool, seductive, and fun. They also make a perfect expression of a person’s style. But before we even begin looking for the best artist, we need to first understand more about tattoo healing. Tending to a tattoo is not rocket science. Tattoo aftercare has to be done to ensure that the tattoo heals properly and you get to enjoy it for life!
Every tattoo undergoes a particular healing process. The healing process is typically broken down into three various stages – and each of these stages are further divided into substages (these substages refer to day-to-day healing). You may notice that a tattoo can heal after several days (or after several months). Regardless of the duration, it is necessary to execute consistency when it comes to aftercare.
Tattoo Healing Process and Stages
When is a Tattoo Fully Healed?
Spotting a Tattoo Infection
Best Tattoo Aftercare Products
Tattoo Healing Process and Stages
The process of tattoo healing occurs in several stages. Although the phases of tattoo aftercare may differ from person to person knowing what to expect certainly helps. Starting from the basic restoration, the proper tending, and the extent of tattoo healing, you should equip yourself with the proper knowledge on the healing process. The last thing you would want is to become paranoid about things that are expected to happen during the healing process.
The clear portion of a tattoo will slowly heal approximately within 4 to 6 weeks. Nevertheless, you should know that the profound skin layers is still in the healing process over the next several months. This timetable may vary based on the kind of ink you have, including the size and style.
The more attentive you are with the subsequent aftercare preparations during the initial period, the faster the tattoo can recover and heal – this will allow you to resume your regular activities without triggering additional injury to the affected part.
Stage One (Day 1)
Most of the time, the process of healing starts while you are still in the process of getting your tattoo. It is particularly applicable for tattoos that only take a few hours or several hours to complete.
The skin is ruptured a lot of times by little needles. If this thought makes you feel light-headed, then you should probably rethink your decision to get a tattoo. You may not survive the scenery of too much blood draining during the process of tattooing.
The first day is the most exciting time since your tattoo is new and you will be captivated by the artistry and how glorious you look. The first day is the perfect day to see how it will typically look when healed, although it is a bit brighter compared to its final form.
Expect your tattoo to still be exposed during this stage since it stays an open wound. Hence, you should guard it carefully and make sure to clean it on the first day. Your artist will initiate the cleaning with the use of antibacterial soap. He/she will also bandage the tattoo for protection against microorganisms.
Tattoo artists may have different methods of wrapping. However, a majority of them recommend retaining the bandage for 12 to 24 hours.
Stage Two (Day 2-6)
This stage can take longer for certain individuals who heal slowly or for those who are not very attentive with their tattoo aftercare. During this time, the whole tattooed area is now a big open wound. During this time, the skin releases plasma to initiate the process of clotting and scabbing. The tattooed part will slowly reduce redness and swelling.
After carefully removing the bandage, it will be common for the tattooed part to be exuding with plasma, lymphatic fluid, blood, and ink. You should not panic if you notice these manifestations. It is inevitable and is a way of the body to initiate repair.
During the next several days, you must clean the tattoo with water and antibacterial, odorless soap twice or thrice a day. Make sure that the water is not very hot as it may trigger further harm to the affected part.
While showering, make sure that you do not rub the area; you might irritate the skin and interrupt the healing method. Do not use towels or any harsh washcloths because these can remove the drying scabs. Also, to maintain the cleanliness of the tattoo, avoid using a used towel.
Thenceforward, the skin’s inner layers, while they regenerate, will start to develop a crust over. It can occur after 3 to 4 days; that is when the anticipated itchy tattoo occurs. Just let the scabs drop off naturally. It will be disappointing if you forcefully peel away the scabs as it can only lead to extreme pain and injured skin and infection.
Stage Three (Day 7-14)
After the second stage, the swelling is noticeably gone. You can still sense a pain if you touch the tattoo, but that is acceptable. The reason why you still have the pain sensation is that only the surrounding skin is healing.
It means that there are still scabs. You will even encounter more itching since more skin cells are rushing its recovery. If you really want to scratch the itchy tattoo, we suggest that you exert pressure instead. By applying pressure (but not smacking, rubbing, or hitting the area) you will still get relief from the itching.
Nevertheless, if you continue using a good moisturizer, you should be able to survive it. There are even natural products that can help relieve the itchiness.
Stage Four (Day 15-30)
The fourth stage commonly takes around two weeks. During this period, you will start to feel relaxed again. The itchiness is gone and the remaining scabs are continuously dissipating. You are encourage to continue using your moisturizer.
During this time, some people get anxious as they will notice the color of their tattoo to lighten. It may look a little blurry or faded if you take a closer view. That is normal since the skin is generating a protective layer. It helps prevent the sunlight from infiltrating too deep and muddling your colors.
In the last part of this stage, the scar is expected to heal completely, assuming that you have been handling it responsibly. The faded appearance will also disappear. Although you might think that everything is done since the healing process is substantially completed, continuous aftercare must still be done.
When is a Tattoo Fully Healed?
Normally, it will take around 2 to 3 weeks before you can indulge in a long bath, or spend time in a hot tub. The time of healing will also depend on how responsible you were when it comes to aftercare.
When you consider its physical appearance, the tattoo may look fully healed after 2 to 3 weeks although it might look a bit shiny and rough for a few more (provided that everything smoothly flows with no manifestation of infection or intense scabbing happening).
Although the skin may appear to completely recover after going through the different healing stages, its deeper layers are still occupied with restoring themselves.
The outer layers always recover the fastest since it is the most crucial part (it prevents the bacteria from penetrating the wound). The lower skin layers will likely take 3 to 4 months to heal completely, although the tattoo will begin to appear a lot sharper and lighter long before the 3 or 4 months are over.
It is difficult to tell when a tattoo gets fully healed since every person heals different. The healing period may also rely on different considerations – such as the size of tattoo, and the level of skill of the tattoo artist. If the artist was rough and launched the needle farther than necessary, the tattoo may take a longer time to heal. After 4 to 6 months, it will be relatively credible to tell that your tattoo has fully healed.
It is necessary to comprehend the hazards before you decide to get a tattoo. If at any period you have some concerns or questions, talk to your artist or seek medical help. Your tattoo is considered as actual physical trauma and although it can be easily healed, it is still important to handle it care.
Spotting a Tattoo Infection
The fact is that getting a tattoo is not always a fun thing to do since there is a possibility that you can get a contaminated tattoo. Furthermore, having an infected tattoo is an under-tackled issue which may lead to devastating skin problems.
There are several reasons related to an infected tattoo and the failure to execute proper hygiene is one common reason. Spotting ahead of time the manifestations of an infected tattoo can help relieve more skin problems.
Other than the redness and pain, there are some other physical or visual manifestations of an infected tattoo. The ensuing symptoms will help you determine an infection:
Rash, Burning, Swelling
Rashes occur in many shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. Some rashes are bumpy while others are smooth and red. The appearance of rashes in the tattoo indicates skin irritation. You will know that the rashes are manifestations of an infected tattoo once the irritation escalates and it gets bigger with every passing day.
The body will naturally consume time to completely heal after getting your tattoo. Hence, the tattooed skin will stay warm for several days because of the expanded flow of blood to a particular area. As an output, the temperature of the tattooed part increases. Nevertheless, this warmness is expected to cool down after several days. Your tattoo could have been infected if the burning sensation continues after one week.
Swelling, on the other hand, is quite usual with tattoos, particularly if the tattoo is placed on the legs, ankles, feet, or on a soft and thin area of the skin (such as the inner bicep). However, if you think that the swelling is extremely bad, and keeps on spreading away from the area of the tattoo and does not alleviate after 7 to 10 days, then it can be a manifestation of an infected tattoo.
Green or Yellow Fluid
Little volumes of clear fluid occurring with little marks of blood are a usual happening during the healing process. Nevertheless, if the part starts to produce green or yellow fluid or spews of too much blood is highly suggestive of a serious case that needs medical care.
The treatment process should begin immediately after the tattoo is finished. Caring for the tattoo can prevent complications and ensures proper healing. You and your tattoo artist have the same role in the process of healing. Aside from choosing a licensed and credible artist, you must take very good care of your tattoo while you are at home.
Learning how to pay attention to your tattoo can be deceptive, though. It will be helpful that you learn some of the aftercare tips for new tattoos. So, how do you ensure that your new tattoo will not lead you to dissatisfaction? Simply do the following tips while your tattoo is in the process of healing.
Removing and Cleaning the Bandage
The length of time you keep the bandage on the tattoo differs a lot. Artists will commonly suggest 2 hours, 24 hours, or anywhere between. Typically, it is considered safe to remove the bandage after 2 to 3 hours provided that you can immediately clean the tattoo after the removal of the bandage. After a few hours of wrapping, the tattoo may have stopped bleeding excessively.
Other artists would suggest that you sleep first with your bandage overnight to avoid brushing the tattooed area, and to cease any fluids that are bleeding from attaching to the bed-sheets.
Clean your hands thoroughly before removing the bandage to prevent infection. To easily remove the bandage, apply warm water to inhibit the bandage from holding the skin. Slowly pull off the bandage so you will not destroy the art of your new tattoo. Make sure to dispose of the used bandage.
Washing a New Tattoo
After removing the bandage, the tattoo is expectedly covered with a deep sticky layer of plasma, blood, lymph fluid, and ink. The luminous plasma should be the one you should clean most comprehensively since this is the thing that will likely begin to set and contracted to start the process of scabbing.
Although there is no doubt that you will want the tattoo to scab, a thick layer of plasma can trigger the skin to scab a lot heavier than what is needed. It will make the tattoo appear more unattractive during the process of healing. Too much scabbing may also increase the possibility of a scab getting peeled unintentionally.
Cleanse the tattoo using lukewarm water and antibacterial soap. Instead of immersing the tattoo in the water, gently pour water on it by cupping the hands together. Get a gentle, fragrance-free liquid antimicrobial or antibacterial soap and use it to scrub the tattoo gently with the fingers, taking off bits of leaked ink, plasma, or blood. It will inhibit the tattoo from immediate scabbing.
Remember to review the ingredients included in the soap before you use it for rubbing over the tattoo. If the soap has any fabricated scents or alcohol, then do not use it. Alcohol and scents may burn the delicate skin and dry it out.
Avoiding using a loofah, washcloth, or any kind of sponge to cleanse the tattoo since these can harbor bacteria. You can only use these items once the tattoo has fully healed. Prevent touching the tattoo under the water. The faucet stream can be very rough on the new tattoo.
Although it is recommended to air dry the skin after cleaning the tattoo, another option is to use a clean paper towel to slowly patch the tattoo until it is dry. Do not rub the tattoo with a paper towel; rubbing can cause skin irritation. Regular towels can also irritate the tattoo or may trigger tiny pieces of floss to get stranded in them. Hence, it is suggested to utilize a clean paper towel when drying.
Applying Aftercare Ointments/Lotions
Apply a fragrance-free antibacterial ointment or cream. Once the tattoo is completely dry, put a little amount of moisturizing ointment, ideally an all-natural after-nourishment, to the tattoo. See to it that you only apply a fine layer and gently tap it until it is penetrated by the skin.
If you are not certain about what type of ointment to apply, you can ask for advice from your artist so he can recommend the best ointment for your skin. Aquaphor is a great choice for a moisturizer. Do not apply petroleum-based ointments like Neosporin and Vaseline because they are very heavy and may cause clogging of the pores.
Once you are done cleaning and moisturizing the tattoo, there is no need to wrap it again.
Keeping a Fresh Tattoo Clean
Keeping a fresh tattoo clean is as crucial as inking one. Failing to execute it properly can destroy even the most captivating art. Keep your tattoo clean by gently washing it to prevent infection. Wear baggy clothes to avoid rubbing and contamination.
Moisturize the skin with mild, scent-free lotions. You should turn down the strong desire to itch or scratch the area. Use a scented-free, hypoallergenic soap when cleaning it. If you happen to live in a place where water is not recommended for drinking, use distilled water to wash the tattoo instead. You may also choose to boil the water first and allow it to cool down.
Listen to the advice of your tattoo artist. He will give you instructions on how to take care of the tattoo, so do your best to follow their instructions. Their approach of putting the bandage to the tattoo can be different when compared to how other artists do it, so make sure that you receive their advice seriously to guarantee that your tattoo will heal properly.
You may want to write down the instructions that they give you so you will not forget it.
Do not forget to use an SPF 50 (or higher) sunscreen to shield the tattoo. It is a fact that any tattoo will eventually fade after ages. Nevertheless, over a long time, you should help guard your asset.
Best Tattoo Aftercare Products
The use of specially formulated products for tattoo aftercare is essential if you want to keep the tattoo in good condition and also prevent any kind of skin issues that may occur after the artist has completed his masterpiece.
Several tattoo aftercare products are known for their quality and efficiency:
Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Butter
An excellent and highly recommended aftercare product for tattoos, the Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Butter provides a calming sensation over the affected area while concurrently stimulating immediate recovery and rehydration. It offers a chilling property that works to alleviate itchiness during the process of healing.
The lotion will also help limit scabbing which is why a lot of artists recommend regular application of this product. It has all-natural components that stimulate healthy skin and hasten the process of healing.
The Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Butter is one of the most credible products for tattoo aftercare. It is good for any type of skin because of its mild components. Since it only utilizes all-natural ingredients, the possibility of getting negative side effects is very minimal.
Organic Tattoo Aftercare Balm
One of the ideal things about the Organic Tattoo Aftercare Balm is that it is 100 percent natural. It simply means that users do not have to be anxious about stringent chemicals that can trigger irritation, particularly if one has sensitive skin.
To be efficient in guarding the tattoo, certain main ingredients which are utilized in this balm include carnauba wax, jojoba wax, extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and coconut oil. Finally, to get rid of any apprehensions, the manufacturer is giving a 1-month money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the result of the product.
Redemption Tattoo Lubricant
Redemption Tattoo Lubricant is another tattoo aftercare product that is one of the best in the market. If you are an environment-friendly person, then you are likely to appreciate this product since it is composed of 100 percent natural ingredients and it has never been tested on animals.
Its natural ingredients include calendula oil, coconut oil, beeswax, and rosemary extract that helps strengthen the process of healing. This product serves as a defender that will inhibit the tattoo area from drying as well as prevent other types of bacterial infection.
This product will act to calm the skin, substituting the petroleum jelly that is utilized by a lot of tattoo artists. This lubricant helps make a more convenient experience of tattooing by getting the skin moisturized and diminishing the soreness and pain that is present during the process of healing. It can also be used even before getting the tattoo to achieve smooth and soft skin, providing the artist a flexible piece to execute on.
Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Salve
Tattoo Goo is a well-known aftercare lotion. Many tattoo parlors will likely recommend this to their customers. The product has a small volume of ingredients which greatly lowers the danger of side effects.
Its main ingredients include wheat germ, olive oil, cocoa butter, and beeswax. It is lanolin, mineral oil, and petroleum-free so you do not have to be anxious about it triggering any unpleasant side effects when applied to the skin.
Remember that this product is a balm. Hence, it may take a while to properly apply to the skin as compared to the lotions. This product also has calming properties and could inhibit the tattoo from being excessively itchy during the process of healing. Tattoo Goo Original Aftercare Salve is a must-have to individuals who have nearly sensitive skin.
Another good thing about this product is that it is formulated not to attach to fabric and clothes. It immediately dries and is penetrated by the skin after several minutes. It has an herbal scent because it contains rosemary and lavender oil. To some people, this is not a problem; however, some people prefer scent-less aftercare ointment.
The use of this balm will make your tattoo look flashing and with a discernible brightness. It is common and will vanish after some time.
Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap
Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap is made to offer a wide array of germicidal wipe out while keeping gentle and mild to the skin. Its uniquely devised cleansing agent cleans at the rooted level to inhibit the growth of bacteria and the development of infection by getting rid of more dead skin cells and dirt. New healthful surfacing skin layers are defined – an essential step in the healing and penetrating aftercare.
When selecting a soap, you should get the one that is not rough to the skin. Rough soaps can dry out the skin; dry skin tend to conceal more viruses and bacteria. Tattoo Goo Deep Cleansing Soap is different from other soaps because it has a marginally acidic PH and has an important ingredient that helps safeguard the skin (while offering more killing power against microbes).
The moment you begin using this soap, you will start to sense instantly that it boosts the healing period. You can utilize it for an improved moisturizing encounter. You will not be irritated by its smell and it exhibits a natural scent.
Its ingredients are mild on the skin and works efficiently and quickly on the tattooed area. Furthermore, it does not cause pain or any side effect on the skin. It is formulated in a manner not to cause you irritation while using, and its pH stability affirms this trait. The skin will never get dry out when using this soap since it has the proper acidity ratio.
Your journey to tattoo aftercare begins from the time you leave the tattoo shop. You must do what is instructed to you by the tattoo artist, particularly on how to care for the new tattoo. Be sincere when considering the do’s and don’t’s of tattoo aftercare and the skin is expected to look captivating for so many years, depending on how well you managed your tattoo art.
However, if you are particularly worried about the healing process of your tattoo, there can only be two people you must consult with – your physician and your tattoo artist. They will give your advice and tips on how to manage the aftercare of your tattoo. Hence, make sure you do not miss the essential advice. Regardless, having some of the best products for your tattoo aftercare and obeying the tips and advice given to you will surely keep your tattoo guarded during the tedious healing process.
Every tattoo happens to heal a bit distinctly depending on the person and the location of the tattoo. The process of healing traces four stages of healing timetable that include bleeding, stinging, peeling, and continuous aftercare. It is necessary to be persistent and loud about the aftercare to prevent your tattoo from infection.