The first tattoo that you receive is often the most emotional mainly due to the uncertainty of how it will turn out and going through the pain of the needle. It is also the most challenging because it forces you to be more careful in treating your tattoo. Some persons underestimate the importance of properly treating the tattoo after it has been placed, however this is one of the most critical stages. In the excitement of it all persons often rush to uncover the tattoo and risk exposing it to the elements before it has properly healed.
Here are some steps you should take to properly take care of your new tattoo.
1. Leave bandage on for a few hours – Now I know this is the most challenging part, who wants to keep their tattoo covered up after its just gotten inked? However it is important that you leave the bandage on for at least 2-4 hours after the piercing. Because the skin has just been penetrated it is important to keep it from being exposed to harmful bacteria. Additionally it takes some time for the skin to heal naturally so be patient. Above all, ensure that you pay attention to instructions of your tattoo artist; every artist has a different way of instructing clients so be sure to ask questions if you are not sure about care and maintenance.
2. Clean with anti-bacterial soap – One of the most important parts of tattoo maintenance is preventing it from airborne bacteria and germs. Therefore once you have removed the bandage, go ahead and clean the area with warm water and anti-bacterial soap. It is important that you gently wash the area with soap that is not too harsh. Avoid placing the tattoo under extremely hot water as well, lukewarm water will be best. When washing take care to remove blood and plasma that may have been remaining from the piercing and gently pat dry with a clean rag.
3. Apply healing products – Typically within the first few days of the piecing you want to apply a water based ointment to the affected area. This will help prevent the skin from drying out; however you want to be careful to select an ointment that will not block the pores or prevent air from accessing the pores. As the skin starts to heal you can switch to using unscented lotion to help minimize scarring and swelling. Ideally it will be helpful to apply these products 2-3 times a day until the tattoo has fully healed and swelling has gone down. Always keep in mind that whenever you must have clean hands whenever you are touching the tattoo in order to prevent it from getting infected.
4. Avoid tight clothing – Be sure to avoid clothing that places undue stress on the area. This will inhibit the healing process and worsen the swelling. The added pressure of tight clothing may irritate the area or prevent the swelling from reducing in size. However, you should keep the area protected and covered just be careful that your clothing does not cause further irritation.
5. Refrain from certain activities – In the early stages of the healing process, avoid activities that may cause the tattoo to be excessively wet; this includes going to the pool or going to the gym. Showering is generally fine (and recommended!) as long as the water temperature is not extremely hot and showers are relatively short (5-6 minutes). Also during the first 2 weeks try to refrain from staying in the sun for too long as the area is sensitive and may form blisters.
Getting a tattoo is often one of the most memorable experiences of or life, however to ensure that the tattoo stays clean and sharp you must follow these after care techniques. Not only will they help extend the life of your tattoo but it will also allow the skin to heal properly and prevent infection.