Tattoos make a statement without saying a word and generally last a lifetime. Taking care of your new colour tattoo is a vital part of the healing process and goes a long way towards maintaining the original colors, form and the overall lifespan of your tattoo. While tattoos are seen as pieces of art or symbols of meaning for an array of things, a tattoo is first and foremost an open wound that needs to be treated correctly and taken care of properly to ensure optimal health.
Depending on their size, most tattoos take between two and three weeks to heal, however, bear in mind that every person is different and some skin types may take longer to accept the ink and heal. During this crucial time of healing, it is essential to follow the instructions of care given to you by your tattoo artist to avoid infection or any other medical problems that could arise from the improper cleaning and maintenance of your new tattoo. Instructions of care that you might be given should cover information such as when to take the bandage off, how to carefully wash the tattoo and what creams, ointments, or antibacterial gels to use.
Expert tip! Remember to follow your cleaning instructions to the letter as this will help the tattoo heal more quickly and avoid possible future problems.
Daily care for your new color tattoo
Here are some things to remember when caring for your new color tattoo in the first week:
1. Keep your tattoo open, dry and clean. Once the protective wrapping that your tattoo artist would have placed on the tattoo immediately afterwards has come off, do not wrap it again. Your tattoo needs to breathe to heal, so you need to ensure it is always open, clean and dry. Hand wash it gently with an anti-bacterial soap and pat dry with a clean paper towel or leave it to air dry. Always make sure your hands and fingers are clean when touching your tattoo – it is an open wound and can become infected quickly if not treated correctly.
2. Your tattoo will most likely weep a clear liquid in the first few days. This is plasma and is part of the healing process. Gently wipe this fluid away with a clean paper towel or clean damp face cloth and allow to dry. Let it weep though – your body knows how to heal itself and you simply need to help it along.
3. Keep your tattoo slightly moist to prevent a hard scab from forming as this will lift the color. The way to do this is to use a special ointment or cream recommended by your tattoo artist which will keep it moist and aid in the healing process at the same time. However, do not keep it too wet and oversaturating the tattoo will smother it and not allow it to breathe. A dab of ointment is all you need – dab off any excess cream to leave just a thin layer.
4. Within the first week, a thin layer of skin will start to peel or flake off from the tattoo, similar to the type of peeling that occurs when skin is sunburnt. This is totally normal, but DO NOT scratch or pick it off – this could open the fragile, soft, new skin beneath and cause an infection. If the skin or area around the flaking skin is itchy, only dab it with a clean, damp towel or anti-bacterial wipe.
5. Avoid the sun for the first two weeks, or use a very high factor of sunscreen to cover your tattoo to prevent sunburn, which could lead to infection. Wear long sleeves or pants to cover your tattoo and protect it from the sun, however, remember to wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t touch the tattoo too much.
6. Avoid working out in the gym or doing strenuous exercise that will cause you to sweat. Sweat contains bacteria and this could also lead to infections occurring in or around the tattoo. Gentle exercise is fine, but if you have to do sweat-inducing exercise, make sure you clean the tattoo correctly and efficiently afterwards and allow it to dry.
Keep in mind that cleaning and caring for your new color tattoo is only for a few weeks of your life that will more than likely give you lifelong pleasure, so even if the cleaning routine is annoying, do it religiously and correctly for the short time that you have to.