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Tattoo Aftercare

There’s lots of advice out there about how you should or shouldn’t look after your tattoo. What makes it all the more confusing is there tends to be sides to the argument where one persons methods is the right way and everything else is wrong.
The two biggest bones of contentions are immediately after the tattoo and what cream to apply to it.
Use a bit of common sense here. At the end of the day a tattoo is a flesh wound that needs time to heal.
When the tattooist has finished inflicting pain he will wipe it down, perhaps apply some sort of cream and then cover it. This is where the first argument starts. Now it’s easy to see both sides of the argument and to be fair both sides have a point. The truth is there are probably good and bad about both methods.

Material Covering

Some apply a variety of different materials such as bandage, gauze or even kitchen roll. This is to cover it so that you keep germs away from it while you get home. The good points here is that material will allow the wound to breath whilst keeping it covered. The downside though is it can stick to the tattoo. If it does stick and you rip it off then you could spoil your tattoo. Generally they all seem to tell you to keep the tattoo covered for 2 hours. If they did cover the tattoo with a material then be very careful removing it after the two hour wait. Peal it back slowly to make sure it hasn’t stuck. If parts of it have stuck then do not try to pull it away. Wet the stuck bits with water, perhaps by dabbing the back of the material with wet lint free pads.

Cling Film Covering

Again covering with cling film does do it’s job of keeping germs away from the wound. People who argue against this method claim that it stops the tattoo from breathing, which is fair enough. However you are not going to have it on for long so I’m not sure that argument is too great. If it’s warm though them it will sweat more and get clammy. The good side though is cling film won’t stick when you try to remove it after the magic two hours.

Leave it alone.

As with all wounds don’t go playing with it. I’ve read somewhere about some who tell you to wash the sticky stuff leaking out. This might be present if you’ve had a heavy tattoo. It’s just the skin trying to heal itself. Yes it does form a scab but that really isn’t a problem. If your skin wants to heal that way then just let it. Washing it all the time is not going to do you any favours. If you do get scabs though, just leave them alone. Do not even think about picking at them. Just leave them and after around a week to 10 days the scabs will come away naturally revealing a perfect tattoo behind.

Washing your Tattoo

In the early stages try to avoid getting your tattoo wet in the shower or bath. Wash it separately two or three times per day – morning, middle and at night. Do not use cloths or sponges. Just pat it with your hand in warm water. Then gently pat it dry.

Applying cream

Heard of Tattoo Goo? You have now. That’s the one everyone tries to sell. Trouble is it is very expensive and some people claim it gives them a rash. There are regular creams available over the counter which are very good and a lot cheaper. The one which is very good and very popular is Bepanthen ointment, which is actually a baby nappy rash product. Some argue against this saying that it draws the ink out of the tattoo. I don’t think that is true though. The only ink they must be talking about is the excess surface ink that is present on all fresh tattoos. In all cases just don’t overdo the cream, just a thin covering will do. You should only need the cream for the first few days anyway and in most cases for no more than a week. Two or three times a day on day one reducing as the days go by.

Excess Ink

Oh my God, the ink is leaking out! No it’s not; it’s just the excess ink that will be left on top of the skin. Doing a tattoo is a messy business where ink is put on to the skin and needles push it in. Obviously then some ink is going to be left on top of the skin. Some tattooists and indeed some tattoos are messier than others so the amount of excess will vary. When you have lots of different colours next to each other it is quite normal for the excess to drift in to each other, especially when you are washing or applying cream. None of that matters because it’s not inside the skin and so will come away eventually.
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Golden Rules

Do not play with it, leave it alone.

Do not scratch it. If it is itching then gently smack it with the flat of your hand.

Do not go swimming for at least a week after getting inked.

Keep it clean and away from dirt. So if you are a brick layer for instance don’t get a tattoo until you are off work for a week.

Avoid strong sunlight for a couple of weeks. Sunburn on a wound is not good. Best not get a tattoo whilst on your holiday in Spain, unless of course it’s on the last day and you are heading home.

Listen to what the tattooist tells you.
Copyright 2008   Berwyn Jay Cardiff