What To Expect When Your Tattoo Is Healing
Your tattoo artist will repeatedly stress the importance of good after-care and letting your tattoo heal properly. Their design and skill can only do so much, then it is a collaborative effort on your end to set your new tattoo up for vibrant longevity.
If you are new to getting your skin inked, the process of healing may surprise you, or you may wonder if everything is as it should be. Don’t worry, we are here to walk you through the stages your tattoo will go through before fully healed.
Get started on the right foot
Even if your tattoo looks as if it’s healed after a few days, it is important to remember that the process continues for about a month, and even longer. Set up good habits of looking after your tattoo right from the start, and you will maintain that sense of awe over it for many years to come.
When your artist is done, they will bandage your tattoo to keep it from getting infected or any scabbing to form – and the ink from colouring just about everything it comes into contact with. They will tell you when to take it off, if it needs re-bandaging, and how to clean your tattoo in between and after. There are different methods, always follow the instructions of the artist who made the tattoo.
Keeping your tattoo clean
When you remove the bandage (the same does not apply for adhesive, medical-grade bandaging such as Saniderm), there will be ink, clear plasma, and potentially blood that has leaked out during the tattooing process. Your surrounding skin will also most likely be red and a little swollen, but this should subside and calm down within about a week.
If you are not wearing an adhesive bandage, your artist will most likely instruct you to wash the tattoo carefully with warm water (not hot) and antibacterial, unscented soap. Do not use any type of washcloth, just your hands. Use paper towels to pat the area dry, rather than rub it with a cotton towel. Then apply a thin layer of aftercare ointment. Wear loose-fitting clothes, especially when going to bed, as the tattoo may still ‘weep’ ink.
During the following days, the tattoo will continue to leak blood and plasma. This is perfectly normal, just keep the tattoo as clean as possible during this time, washing it at least twice per day, preferably morning and night. Trust and listen to your artist.
No scratching the tattoo!
Then your tattoo will begin to dry out. Here comes the itchy bit. Just as any wound, tattoos will itch as they heal. It is of utmost importance that you resist any urge to scratch it! You can put an icepack over your clothes to help soothe the area. Putting on a thin layer of aftercare cream or lotion can also help if that is part of the method your artist recommends.
We will dive deeper into what comes next along with differences in healing time for different styles of tattoo in the following post.