How to care for a tattoo? Aftercare guide for a new tattoo

how to care for a tattoo long term

As a resident tattoo artist in Cheltenham, I often find my clients curious about how to care for a tattoo afterwards, especially when it’s in a hard-to-reach spot. Whether your ink adorns your back, shoulder, or any other hidden area, the care routine remains essential for ensuring its longevity and stunning appearance.

After getting inked, your tattoo is a wound that requires careful attention and proper care to ensure it heals well and looks its best. Like any other wound, a fresh tattoo is susceptible to infection. Bacteria can enter through the broken skin, leading to complications if not properly cared for. 

Proper aftercare not only promotes healing but also preserves the clarity and vibrancy of the tattoo’s details over time. In this guide, I’ll share a detailed guide on how to take care of a new tattoo, step by step, so you can nurture it and revel in its beauty for years to come. 

Immediate tattoo aftercare (the first few days)

Right after I finish your tattoo here in the studio, I’ll meticulously clean the area with a gentle antibacterial soap and warm water to remove any excess ink, blood, and plasma. Then, I’ll apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment to protect your skin and prevent infection. No matter the placement of the tattoo, I’ll cover it with a protective film or a sterile bandage to shield it from bacteria and friction during those crucial first few hours.

Once you get home, after 2-4 hours, it’s time to carefully remove the protective film. Make sure your hands are squeaky clean before touching your new tattoo. Gently wash your tattoo with your clean hands, using a mild antibacterial soap and warm water. Rinse thoroughly to remove all traces of soap, then let the tattoo air dry or gently pat it dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing the area to prevent irritation.

Then, to keep your tattoo moisturised, apply a thin layer of antibacterial ointment, specifically formulated for the healing process. Remember, every tattoo and person’s skin is unique, so if you have specific concerns or notice any unusual reactions, don’t hesitate to reach out and receive proper aftercare instructions.

Daily Tattoo Care of your new tattoo (first 2 weeks)

Now let’s move to how to care for a tattoo after a week. For the first couple of days, you’ll need to apply the antibacterial ointment 2-3 times a day. Remember, a little goes a long way – your skin needs to breathe to heal properly. Continue to wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day with antibacterial soap and warm water. Make sure to rinse well and pat the area dry gently.

Around days 3-4, you’ll notice your skin starting to form scabs. This is completely normal. Resist the urge to pick at or scratch the scabs, as this can pull out the ink and damage your fresh tattoo. Some itching is normal as your tattoo heals – if it becomes intense, you can gently pat the area with your palm instead of scratching and apply a tattoo aftercare product.

After the initial few days, you can switch to a fragrance-free moisturising lotion. Apply a thin layer of lotion to keep your skin hydrated and prevent it from drying out and cracking. Hydrated skin heals faster and looks better.

During this time, it’s important to avoid direct sunlight and not to use sunscreen on your tattoo until your tattoo is fully healed. Make sure that you keep your tattoo out of direct sunlight and always use sunscreen to prevent fading and damage.

Avoid submerging your tattoo in water for a long time. Steer clear of long baths, swimming pools, saunas, and hot tubs. Quick showers to wash the tattoo with lukewarm water are perfectly fine, but don’t let your tattoo soak in water for too long. Also, wear loose-fitting clothing to allow air circulation and prevent fabric from rubbing against your tattoo.

Aftercare tips on how to care for a new tattoo at night

Whether your concern is how to care for a new tattoo on your arm or how to care for a tattoo on your back, the aftercare routine at night is just as important as daytime care to promote healing and prevent complications.

Before bed, cleanse the tattoo thoroughly! Gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap. Use your clean hands to gently remove any ointment, blood, or lymphatic fluid that may have accumulated during the day.

After washing, it’s best to pat your tattoo dry with a clean towel or let it air dry for a few minutes. Avoid rubbing the tattoo, as this can irritate the skin and make it peel.  Once your tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of recommended cream on the tattoo. This tattoo aftercare is crucial to keep the tattoo hydrated overnight and promotes the healing process. Use only a small amount to avoid suffocating the skin.

Wear loose, breathable clothing to bed to allow your tattoo to breathe and reduce friction against the tattooed area. A cotton pyjama or loose-fitting garments are ideal. Consider placing a clean sheet or towel over your bedding if you’re concerned about ointment or ink staining your sheets. This extra layer can also provide a barrier against dust and dirt.

If the location of the tattoo is in an area prone to swelling, such as the ankle or foot, consider elevating it slightly with pillows to reduce swelling overnight. If possible, try to sleep in a position that avoids direct pressure on the tattooed area. This can help prevent irritation and disturbance to the healing process.

How to care for a tattoo long-term?

Once your tattoo is fully healed, continue to take care for your new tattoo by moisturising it regularly to keep your skin healthy and your tattoo looking vibrant. Always apply sunscreen to your tattoo when you’re out in the sun to protect it from fading and UV damage. Your tattoo is a part of you now, and taking care of it ensures it stays as stunning as the day you got it.

If you notice any intense redness or swelling that doesn’t subside, severe or worsening pain, unusual discharge or a foul smell, or if you develop a fever or feel generally unwell, contact me or a doctor immediately. These could be signs of an infection, and it’s important to act quickly to address any issues.

How to care for a new tattoo in the summer?

If you’d like to keep your tattoo looking fresh, check the following steps on how to care for a new tattoo on your chest or any other location in the summer. During the initial healing phase (usually the first 2-3 weeks), keep your tattoo covered with loose clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton. This protects it from direct sunlight, which can cause fading and damage.

Once your tattoo has healed enough that it’s no longer oozing or scabbing, apply sunscreen with a high SPF (at least SPF 30) whenever you’re outdoors. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating heavily.

If possible, avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours (10 AM to 4 PM). Seek shade whenever possible to protect your tattoo. High temperatures can irritate your skin and your tattoo may take longer to heal. Stay cool by seeking shaded areas, using fans or air conditioning, and avoiding excessive physical exertion.

Trust the healing process of your new tattoo

If you have general enquiries such as how to care for a back tattoo by yourself or how to care for a tattoo you can’t reach do not hesitate to ask for some practical tips and solutions. For instance if you were wondering how to care for a leg tattoo that you can’t properly reach, you can use a mirror to get a clear view of the back of your leg.

This will help you monitor its healing progress and ensure you can take good care for your tattoo. Consistency and gentle care are key to ensuring your tattoo heals properly and retains its shades. If there are other things you need to know about tattoo aftercare, guide tips or any other request, do not hesitate to contact me!

For more tips on how to care for a tattoo reach out!

The tattoo aftercare management may sound daunting at first, especially if it’s your first tattoo ink. By following these steps diligently, the tattoo aftercare routine will ensure your tattoo heals beautifully and remains a source of pride for years to come.

If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your tattoo artist! I am here to help you take care of your tattoo!

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