Tattoo Aftercare: How to Treat a New Tattoo

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Taking proper care of your new tattoo is the most important thing you can do to ensure it heals well. The right care can also prevent scarring and damaging the design of the tattoo. Unfortunately, many tattoo artists give conflicting advice for aftercare; others may even fail to give you follow-up instructions.

When you first receive your tattoo the artist will most likely cover the artwork with saran wrap or a fresh bandage. Saran wrap can actually be harmful for the tattoo, especially if it's applied tightly. If your tattoo is wrapped with saran wrap or plastic wrap, remove it as soon as possible. Ideally a fresh bandage is used because this allows airflow. A bandage should always be left on a fresh tattoo for at least a couple of hours. Remember, a tattoo is still an open wound and is therefore open to bacteria and infection.

After at least a few hours have passed, go ahead and remove the bandage and wash the tattoo. It's best to use lukewarm--not hot--water and a very mild, liquid antimicrobial or antibacterial soap. Using only your hands, gently wash away blood and any ointment on the surface. Avoid washcloths or anything with an abrasive, scrubbing surface. This will only damage the skin and increase the chance of scabbing and scarring.


Next, pat the entire area with a paper towel until it's dry. Avoid rubbing the tattoo because, again, this will cause scabbing. When the area is completely dry, apply ointment. Many people prefer A&D ointment, as well as Lubriderm and Eucerin. Avoid Neosporin, however, due to risk of allergic reaction. Continue applying ointment twice a day until the tattoo peels, although be careful not to apply too much ointment. The tattoo should be kept moist but not wet.

Within a few days you should notice peeling on the tattoo, and maybe even scabbing. A small amount of scabbing is normal. Simply apply a warm, wet towel to the scabbing a few times a day to soften it. Always allow a scab to come off by itself; picking a scab on a tattoo will lead to scarring. Also, don't apply ointment to scabs. Allow them to dry on their own. The best thing you can do while your tattoo scabs and peels is this: leave it alone! Never scratch or peel at a new tattoo.

The last thing you must do with a new tattoo is avoid the sun. Extreme sunlight will damage and fade a tattoo, especially one that's still healing. Always apply sunscreen to your tattoo before going out and it'll remain vibrant for years.


Tattoo aftercare is extremely important and the only way you can ensure your tattoo continues to look as good as it did when it was fresh. Always follow aftercare instructions. Remember, the first week is the most critical time and it's up to you to take a few minutes each day to prevent scarring and damage. Most tattoo artists will give you follow-up instructions before you leave, and may even give you ointment to take home.

For more articles related to tattoos please visit tattoo blog or the post the purpose of a tattoo .

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