TATTOO AFTERCARE INSTRUCTION
read and follow all instructions listed
Necessary Items for Healing
1. Ointment: options listed in order of preference
- Hustle Butter (purchase from Amazon) designed by a tattoo artist, for healing tattoos. This one comes highly recommended.
- Shea butter
- Unscented lotion (make sure it is new and the shelf life allows for 12 months) Pump bottle is ideal.
- Coconut oil (only use from a new jar)
- A & D Gold
2. Paper Towels (new in plastic wrapping)
3. Unscented Soap
- Whichever brand you prefer, (i.e. Dove, Dr. Bronner’s, etc.)
IMPORTANT: Do NOT use scented soap as the likelihood to have an allergic reaction to scents is more likely when healing an open wound, such as a tattoo.
Important things to keep in mind during the healing process
- Always wash your hands before touching your tattoo.
- Make sure you have clean linens, clothes and towels during the healing process.
- Do not wear any clothes, shoes, bras, ect that rub, or are tight on the tattooed area.
- Avoid the gym/working out if possible. Sweat can be very abrasive to your new tattoo.
- Do not let your pets lick your tattoo, or children touch your tattoo until it is fully healed.
*Signs of infection include:
- Tattoo is painful to the touch 24 hours after the procedure.
- The skin is red directly around the tattoo or it is seeping pus.
If any of these occur consult your doctor immediately.
Photos to act as visual aids for the first part of your healing process using Saniderm (the clear bandage the artist put on your tattoo) Continue reading after the photos for full care instructions.
photo 1 - The benefits of Saniderm.
photo 2 - How your tattoo will look at first, and how it may look closer to the time of removing the bandage.
Part 1.a. With Saniderm (Clear Bandage)
If you experiencing a burning sensation or feeling great discomfort, or the skin is completely red under the clear bandage take it off immediately, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction to the adhesive. This is rare, but does happen occasionally.
If removal of the bandage occurs within the first 24 hours, please reference section 1.b and past the first 24 hours, please reference, healing section 2.
How long should you keep the bandage on?
Keep your bandage on for at least 24 hours. Your artist will give you an estimate on your specific tattoo. However you should not keep the bandage on for more than 2.5 days, unless otherwise instructed.
What should I know about this bandage?
This is a breathable bandage developed for burn victims. It has a multitude of uses, one being to heal tattoos and prevent infection especially in the first 24 hours when a wound is more susceptible to infection. It is advertised as water proof, however we do NOT recommend partaking in any water related activities (including showering) while wearing this bandage.
What does it look like while healing?
While wearing the bandage the tattoo will typically seep blood and ink under the bandage surface. This will look unpleasant and may possibly look concerning, however this is perfectly normal. It may even get to the point of no longer seeing your tattoo. When it comes time for you take the bandage off to clean your tattoo, it will be exactly how it was when completed.
What is this stuff under my bandage and why is this happening to me?
Your body is releasing natural enzymes, blood, and plasma to help your body heal. This is perfectly normal for your body, however most of us aren’t wearing clear bandages to watch the process. So please don’t panic. You and your tattoo are perfectly fine. This bandage is allowing your skin to have a better opportunity to hold onto the ink and remain sterile.
There is a red boarder around my bandage, why?
The bandage stretches with the skin. However it does not have the ability to stretch as much as our skin does. So it is IMPORTANT to pull back the bandage in small increments around the border (especially the corners) if you notice or feel irritation. At a micro level, the cells of your skin are stretching at the border of the bandage, and it is causing micro tearing to the skin. It is important to move the point of irritation periodically while wearing the bandage, if this occurs. 2-3 times a day peel the irritated area of the bandage back just a tiny bit to relieve the cells being effected.
If you must move the bandage to where the tattoo would then be exposed. Remove the bandage immediately and following instructions from below section: "How do I remove my bandage?"
When do I know when to take the bandage off?
Once your tattoo starts to look dried-out and begins to look slightly scab-like it is time for the bandage to come off.
How do I remove my bandage?
Now that your bandage is ready to be removed, it is best to hop in the shower (not a bath). But first, have available your paper towels, unscented soap, and ointment.
Wash your entire body including your hair, as long as the water is not getting into your bandage. If it is then wait and wash your hair and body next time you take a shower. Why? Most of us have scent in our shampoo and body wash, in the event of an open wound (tattoo) we can have a skin related allergic reaction to scents that wouldn't normally bother us.
Next, remove your bandage. The longer you can sit in a warm shower the more the adhesive will loosen and the better the removal process will feel. (only if the bandage is not getting water in it should you wait) Take the bandage off semi slowly, pulling in sections. Try to pull the bandage towards the hair follicles not away, as this will be less uncomfortable.
Once removed, then use your paper towel and unscented soap. Fold one paper towel piece into a square, place in water, rub unscented soap on top layer and then with light circular motions wash the surface of your tattoo. This motion helps prevent large scabs from occurring, which can remove ink from the tattoo as it heals. With the first cleaning you may notice discoloration of the white paper towel - this is normal. Repeat this step 2 more times.
Once out of the shower (and using clean linens to dry yourself) blot the tattoo dry with a clean paper towel and allow to air dry, minimum of 15 minutes. Then apply a light layer of your chosen ointment.
Continue to Part 2 for remaining healing instructions for the next couple of weeks.
Part 1.b. Healing with NO Clear Bandage
This section is for those of you not healing with the clear bandage or those of which have removed the bandage within the first 24 hours.
1. Wash your hands before touching your tattoo, especially in the first 3-4 days of your tattoos healing process.
2. Wash your tattoo 2-3 times a day, (3 times a day is ideal in the first two days of healing) Grab your clean paper towels, and the unscented soap. Wash the tattoo thoroughly, this is to prevent platelets drying to the skin and forming a scab. Blot your tattoo dry with some more clean paper towel.
3. Let the tattoo air dry for 15-45 minutes, allowing the moisture to evaporate from the wound completely before putting ointment on, this is important to avoid infection.
4. Apply a thin layer of ointment with clean hands. It should not feel tacky, but should have a slight shine.
5. If your tattoo is near the inside of the arm, the mid bend of the arm, or the mid bend of the leg, be sure not to over ointment the tattoo.
Continue to Part 2:
1. Wash your hands before touching your tattoo, especially in the first 3 to 4 days of your tattoos healing process.
2. Wash your tattoo 2 to 3 times a day (3 times a day is ideal in the first two days of healing). Use your clean paper towels, and the unscented soap. Wash the tattoo thoroughly, this is to prevent platelets drying to the skin and forming a scab. Blot your tattoo dry with some more clean paper towel.
3. Let the tattoo air dry for 15 to 45 minutes, allowing the moisture to evaporate from the wound completely before putting ointment on, this is important to prevent infection.
4. Apply a thin layer of ointment with clean hands. It should not feel tacky, but should have a slight shine.
5. If your tattoo is near the inside of the arm, the mid-bend of the arm, or the mid-bend of the leg, be sure not to over ointment the tattoo. These areas are prone to infection as they can easily trap moisture if the arm or leg is bent for long periods of time, such as while sleeping. It is important to be mindful of this and try to keep these areas unbent especially the first 3 to 4 days.
6. In about 3 to 7 days your tattoo will begin to peel. This should look similar to a sunburn peel. During this time there may be pigment from the ink trapped in the peeling skin. It may also start to itch, it is very important to DO NOT scratch, rub, or pick at your tattoo – you are permitted to luxury of slapping the hell out of it.
7. It is best during the first 2 weeks to wear loose/baggy clothes over your tattoo. This will help prevent, serious permanent damage which tight clothing can cause to your tattoo. It will also prevent the tattoo from drying out, premature peeling and irritation of the skin.
When is my tattoo healed?
The healing process is different for every individual. The average time for a tattoo fully is 2 weeks (however it can take up to 3 weeks, or as little as 1 week if it is a small tattoo).
When will I know I am completely healed?
Once your tattoo has finished peeling wait an additional 2 to 3 days, once you have waited these couple of days the tattoo is now fully healed.
How should I care for my tattoo after it is healed?
Always use sunscreen to protect your tattoo from getting burnt and blurring over time. If possible/necessary reduce friction of the skin (such as waxing, tight cloths, etc.,) where the tattoo resides to prevent blurring. Also, frequently use lotion, especially in arid environments, to keep the skin happy and the tattoo looking vibrant.
DO NOT DO THESE THINGS
1. Do not pick at your tattoo. What some times looks like just some flaky skin ready to come off may actually pull deeper into the skin and rip up some of the underlying permanent tattoo ink. This will leave spots or splotches in your tattoo and is very obvious to a tattoo artist as to the cause – improper healing.
2. No swimming of any kind or soaking of the tattoo. Avoid long baths, hot tubs, pools, lakes, rivers, etc. This is crucial for avoiding an infection, if a tattoo is soaked for a long period of time, the wound becomes open and bacteria can crawl into that open wound.
3. Try to avoid the gym and sauna. Sweat can be very harsh on your tattoos healing process – it doesn’t love salt from sweating. If this does happen, be sure to wash the tattoo thoroughly right after.
4. Avoid the sun while healing your tattoo, a sunburn can not only be very painful on a new tattoo, but it can also cause it to get inflamed more than it already is and potentially push the ink out into the skin.
5. Be mindful of how you sleep at night, do not curl up in a way that suffocates your tattoo. For example holding your fresh tattoo with your hand at night. If you tend to lay in a position that would make it difficult for the tattoo to breath, where cotton clothing that covers the area. For example a long sleeve cotton shit, or cotton pants.
6. Do not let your pets lick your fresh tattoo, or other people touch your fresh tattoo with out clean throughly washed hands. Hands that are washed with less than 20 seconds with soap can still carry bacteria and pose a threat of infection if placed on your tattoo. Especially within the first 24 hours out of the bandage.
7. Once healed laser hair removal can not/should not be preformed on the area of the tattoo and can cause permanent damage to the tattoo.
8. Once healed it is advised you avoid allowing your tattoo to get sun burned, multiple sun burns can damage the tattoo and cause it to blur faster. In the event you get a sun burn, use aloe vera to sooth the skin as quickly as possible.
9. Try not to get any cuts or burns on your tattoo. Try not to pick at and blemishes that arise on the surface of the tattoo. This can cause permanent damage.