Once your tattoo is completed, it is up to you to ensure that it heals properly!!!
The first step in doing this is to understand two basic principles of tattoo aftercare…
* When you wash your tattoo, get it THOROUGHLY CLEAN
* When you moisturize your tattoo, DO NOT OVER MOISTURIZE
Follow these tattoo aftercare instructions carefully and call your tattoo artist if you have ANY concerns or questions regarding the progress of your tattoo’s healing.
If your tattoo is bandaged with TEGADERM:
* Leave the Tegaderm on for 72 hours. If your bandage is leaking, gently wipe away any leakage with a soft cloth or paper towel, as needed. If the Tegaderm does not stay secured and begins to slip, you may use medical tape to help keep it in place. If however the Tegaderm fails to stay in place to a point that your tattoo is exposed, the bandage must be removed at once. It is advisable that while wearing the Tegaderm you avoid wearing your favorite light colored clothing or sleeping on your favorite sheets, in case of leakage.
*Fluid accumulation under the Tegaderm is NORMAL, and should be expected. There may be a little, or a lot. There is no need for concern if you see fluid, this is your own blood plasma and perhaps a bit of tattoo pigment, but it is working hard to re-build your skin so leave it alone!
*If you experience any swelling in the new tattoo, try to treat the body part as you would a sprained ankle. ICE, ELEVATION, and ADVIL. Lower extremities are particularly vulnerable to swelling. It’s usually nothing to be concerned about, but it is uncomfortable. If you experience swelling just rest and get your feet up a while.
*Avoid activities that will stress the Tegaderm bandage. For example, if the bandage is on your arm, avoid jogging, and other repetitive motion activities as much as possible for the 72 hour bandage period. Highly repetitive movements, especially if they induce perspiration, will cause the Tegaderm to come loose prematurely.
*For the duration of the 72 hour period, avoid excessive water exposure. This means that WHEN you shower for the first three days, just get in, and get out, being careful to minimize the water spray onto the Tegaderm.
*When it is time to remove the Tegaderm, the easiest way is to do it in the shower or bath, by allowing it to soak a while in warm water before attempting to peel it off. Have a friend help you peel it off if needed. Rub the edges of the bandage until you can get ahold of it, and GENTLY pull it free from the skin. Draw the bandage along the surface of the skin with one hand while supporting the skin behind the bandage with the other hand. Removing the Tegaderm may be just a bit painful, but with patience and gentleness it shouldn’t be too bad, or take too long.DO NOT PULL THE BANDAGE DIRECTLY AWAY FROM THE SKIN AS THIS MAY CAUSE UNDUE PAIN.
*Once the Tegaderm is removed, wash the tattoo thoroughly with very warm soapy water. Use any mild soap (avoid heavy fragrances and never wash your raw tattoo with an exfoliating soap!) The trick to getting your tattoo clean is to wash it VERY gently, not just once, but as many times as needed to get it clean. Avoid using a lot of pressure while washing it as this may cause discomfort. Your tattoo isn’t clean until it no longer has any areas that feel “slippery” to the touch.
*once your tattoo is clean, rinse it one last time with cold water. This will help close the pores of your skin and help the tattoo to stop oozing.
*Dry the tattoo, either by air drying, or GENTLY pat the tattoo dry using a paper towel or a CLEAN towel. (Avoid using a bath towel that you’ve been using for several days, as these may contain bacteria which could irritate your new tattoo).
*After 72 hours under Tegaderm, your tattoo probably won’t need moisturizer for a day or two. Allow the tattoo to be dry, until it feels tight, itchy, or tender. Afterwords moisturize with any mild, fragrance free moisturizer as often as needed. Avoid over-moisturizing. Your tattoo should NEVER look shiny or feel greasy.
*Avoid clothing or activities that irritate your new tattoo for several days. This may include clothing that is tight, or has a coarse texture, such as denim waistbands and lace bra-straps.
*After use of Tegaderm (if it has stayed on for the recommended 72 hrs) it is normal for the tattoo to gently flake a bit on the fourth or fifth day. Never pick at or scratch your healing tattoo. Continue to moisturize and treat your new tattoo gently until the skin is fully recovered.
If your tattoo is bandaged with cling wrap:
* Leave your bandage on for AT LEAST 3 to 4 hours. Most people find that leaving the bandage on even longer (up to 24 hours) may significantly shorten the healing time.
* IMMEDIATELY after removing bandage, shower, and wash tattoo with mild soap and warm water, using finger-tips, with gentle pressure, as many times as is necessary to feel the tattoo rinse completely clean, ( rinsing away ANY and ALL areas that feel greasy to the touch ).
* Either air dry, or gently pat dry the tattoo, and allow to dry out COMPLETELY (normally several hours ) before applying any moisturizer. Your tattoo should “tell” you when it is time for moisturizer by feeling “tight”.
* Moisturize as needed with something like “burt’s bee’s hand salve”, or any mild, fragrance free skin moisturizer, being careful to avoid over-moisturizing. (tattoo should NEVER look shiny, or feel greasy ).
* Wash every day at least twice, moisturize as needed, avoid soaking, swimming, sun tanning, as well as any other activities that may irritate your tattoo, until the tattoo is completely healed.
* Tattoo will peel and flake somewhere between 4-14 days, DO NOT pick scabs!!!
* After flaking is underway,continue to use a mild, fragrance free moisturizer, as needed.
* When the tattoo has finished flaking, and your skin looses the shininess associated with a brand new tattoo (usually several weeks) visit your tattoo artist to asses the need, if any, for touch ups.
Tattoo aftercare is just as important as how good your tattoo artist is.