3 Stages to the tattoo aftercare healing process
Actually getting your tattoo is truly the highlight of the entire inking process, but you're not finished once you walk out of the shop door. In fact, you're at the beginning of a healing process that will likely last anywhere from three to four weeks and you'll need to take special care of your new body art during this time to ensure it looks its best once the healing runs its course. Understanding the tattoo aftercare stages gives you a better idea of what to expect in the days and weeks to come.
This initial stage of tattoo aftercare begins right after your tattoo procedure. At this point, you can consider the tattoo area an open wound and you'll need to treat it accordingly. Your artist will gently wash the area and apply film to protect it from bacteria. Most artists recommend you keep the area covered for the first few days using Dermalize, although you will likely need to use a bandage because a fresh tattoo usually bleeds and weeps slightly. In using Dermalize, it will retain the fluids to and minimize drainage into a bandage, and therefore reduce the risk of the bandage soaking up too much fluid and sticking to your skin. This is definitely not good for the healing process by applying Dermalize, you will prevent this from happening.
Many people describe a fresh tattoo as feeling similar to a sunburn. The area tends to sting a bit, and it can look red and become a little puffed or swollen. This is a natural aspect of the healing process. You'll begin to form scabs over the tattoo, though you shouldn't attempt to remove them. Just gently hand wash the area once or twice a day with a natural tattoo wash, pat it dry with a fresh 100% cotton towel and gently dab on a light covering of Tattoo Balm.
The second stage of your tattoo aftercare usually brings the onset of itching. At this point, the scabs should be well formed and probably just beginning to flake off. This process will continue for approximately seven to ten days. The skin around the tattoo may become dry so it's definitely beneficial to use an organic lubricant. Most people experience some peeling, just as they would with sunburn. Avoid prematurely removing the dried skin. Just allow it to fall off naturally and by all means, do not scratch your tattoo. Scratching can cause damage and ultimately spoil the look of your tattoo by the time healing is complete. Applying tattoo balm to the area should bring some relief.
Expect this healing stage to last about one week as well.
Stage three of your tattoo aftercare brings the final healing of the area. By this point, most or all of the scabs should have fallen away from your tattoo although the area may still be slightly dry and slightly tender. You may notice that your ink no longer looks as vibrant as it did when it was first finished, and this is natural, however if you use the best aftercare, you can retain more colour and depth. There is typically still a layer of dead skin over the tattoo at this point that obscures it a bit, but once that layer naturally falls away you'll see what your new tattoo really looks like. Your aftercare program should include film, natural tattoo balm and soap to easily manage to avoid infection and itchiness, and ensure your tattoo looks great after your healing is complete.
Things to avoid
- Don't apply petroleum based skin products to your tattoo.
- Avoid swimming. Chlorine can leach colour and dry out the still tender skin around your tat.
- Don't soak in the tub. This can allow bacteria to penetrate the unhealed needle wounds.
- Avoid exposing your new tattoo to direct sunlight. This can lead to fading and you could easily burn the unhealed skin.
- Don't pick at your scabs or scratch/rub your tattoo.