The Ultimate Tattoo Aftercare Guide​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Without proper care, your tattoo could become infected and won't heal in a healthy way. Not only does that introduce the risk of health problems, but it could also alter the way your tattoo looks. This simple step by step guide has everything you need to get the job done.​​​​​​​

This aftercare guide will point you in the right direction.

AfterCare of Your Tattoo - First Steps

Remove the Dressing One to Three Hours Afterward

Once your tattoo is complete, wait one to three hours before you remove the dressing.

Editors Note

This advice varies between Tattoo artist, Be sure to listen to your tattoo artist who will tell you exactly how long you should wait and it's important to follow those instructions exactly.

Do Not Recover the Tattoo

Once it's time to remove the dressing, experts caution against putting another one on because the tattoo will need to breathe.

A tattoo is an open wound and needs to heal, so following this advice is imperative.

Wash Gently with Your Fingers

Because a tattoo is essentially a wound, it needs to be kept clean.

Use clean fingers to gently wash the area using unscented, antibacterial soap, then let the tattoo air dry.

Expect Irritation

You might be alarmed if your tattoo itches or gets inflamed, but this is a normal part of the healing process as long as the problem is mild and doesn't accompany signs of an infection.

In the days after you get your tattoo, you can expect sensitivity, redness and general irritation, but if it continues after three or four days, talk to your tattoo artist to be sure there isn't a problem.

Watch for Weeping

Tattoo artists say that weeping is completely normal and will look clear or be the same colour as your tattoo ink.

This is nothing to worry about, but contact your tattoo artist if you have any concerns about weeping with your tattoo.

Keep the Tattoo Moist with Ointment

If you allow your tattoo to dry out, it will form a scab, which will interfere with healthy healing.

Apply a thin layer of ointment such as Curoxen to the tattoo to keep it from scabbing, but make sure you don't use too much, which can prevent proper healing as well.

Do Not Scratch the Tattoo

As with any injury, your tattoo will eventually peel and itch.

Under no circumstances should you pick at or peel the skin from your tattoo because it can keep it from healing properly.

Stay out of the Water

You can take a warm shower with a new tattoo, but should never submerge it in water for any amount of time.

The following is a short list of things to avoid for the first couple of weeks after getting a tattoo:

Swimming Pools

Hot Tubs

Bath Tubs




Avoid Strenuous Exercise

The exercise itself could lead to breaking of the skin or irritation, interfering with the healing process.

Additionally, getting excessively sweaty is akin to soaking your tattoo in a body of water and should be avoided for proper healing.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

While your tattoo heals, it's important to avoid direct sunlight, as well as tanning beds because the UV rays can damage the tattoo and fade the colour.

Try to stay out of the sun as much as possible, but if you can't do so, use a high SPF sunscreen to protect your tattoo.

Use the Right Tattoo Aftercare Products

Your tattoo artist will tell you which product to use on your tattoo as it heals.

You can find a review of the best aftercare products here.

Choose the Right Clothing

A tattoo needs to breathe so it's important to wear loose clothing as yours heals.

Tight clothing will restrict the airflow to the tattoo, which can interfere with the healing process and could rub the tattoo, which can cause light spots or other issues with healing.

Watch for Signs of Infection

Like any wound, a tattoo could become infected if you don't care for it properly.

It's vital to watch for signs of an infection and contact your tattoo artist and a doctor right away if you notice any of the following symptoms:

Pain – throbbing, pulsating or intense Hot to the touch

Extreme inflammation

Pustules or boils on the tattoo

Yellow or green discharge

Intense or prolonged itching

Redness, when combined with warmth and inflammation


Muscle aches


Red streaks that radiate from the tattoo

Swollen lymph nodes

If In Doubt Ask for Help

If, at any time, you are confused or unsure what to do with your tattoo, ask your tattoo artist right away for help.

This ensures proper care of your healing tattoo and helps prevent an infection.

Practice Good Long Term Tattoo Aftercare

Once you have had your tattoo for a couple of weeks, it has healed, for the most part.

However, you will need to stay on top of tattoo care for longer than that to keep the tattoo from fading and to ensure that it continues to look good and doesn't interfere with good health.

Long Term Tattoo Care

Tattoo artists say that long-term aftercare is just as important as the first few days and weeks after getting the tattoo.

Use the following tips after you get a tattoo and for life, and continue to watch for issues that need your tattoo artist's or doctor's attention.

Always Wear Sunscreen

UV rays can penetrate your skin and that means that they can lighten your tattoo at any time, so wearing SPF anytime you plan to be outside is imperative for preserving the colour and integrity of your tattoo for the rest of your life.

Use the following tips to properly protect your tattoo from the sun:

Use an SPF of at least 45

Apply sunscreen to any exposed area of the tattoo anytime you'll be outside

Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours or after getting wet or using a towel to dry off

Avoid using tanning beds, which can fade and damage your tattoo and harm your skin

Look for a sunscreen designed for the aftercare of tattoos

Moisturize Your Tattoo Regularly

It's vital to keep your tattoo moist in the first days after getting it, but continuing a regular moisturizing routine will help keep the colours bright and vibrant and protect the skin on and around your tattoo.

Moisturize at least once a day and even more if you suffer from dry skin or look for a cream designed for tattoos.

Tattoo Aftercare Conclusion

By following the expert advice after you get a tattoo, you can enjoy your ink for the rest of your life without encountering issues that make you want to keep it covered and hidden.

After all, you got a tattoo to express yourself and you certainly don't want to spend the rest of your life keeping it under wraps, right?

Looking after your tattoo isn't hard, but will require diligence and effort so be prepared for that before you even enter the tattoo parlour and you'll be ready to take care of your ink forever.

In summary, proper aftercare requires keeping the tattoo moist and watching it for sings of infections and problems.

The most important thing you can do when you have a new tattoo is to follow the instructions of your tattoo artist to the letter.

He or she knows their stuff and are giving you aftercare advice because they are experienced and know what they're talking about.

You can trust that, can't you?

Failing to follow the tips of your tattoo artist can result in infections, improper healing and other issues that we know you want to avoid.

Often, you tattoo artist will give you written care instructions and keeping them handy for easy reference is the best way to make sure you are getting it right.

An infection as a result of a tattoo can be life threatening as it can lead to a blood infection or sepsis.

It's vitally important to follow the aftercare instructions from your tattoo artist, but if you notice any signs or symptoms of an infection, seek medical treatment immediately.

You may be given oral or topical antibiotics to treat the problem and ensure that you don't suffer long-term effects.

Having a tattoo is a wonderful way to express your individuality and there's no reason to be afraid of getting one.

However, make sure you choose a reputable tattoo parlour with a tattoo artist who has experience so that you know you'll be getting a safe and sanitary tattoo that also looks good.

Ask for credentials and pictures of previous work so that you are fully aware of what you're getting into.

That's it!

This reference guide is your go-to for all things aftercare when you get a tattoo and should leave you with no questions about what to do.

Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your ink for a lifetime.