There are many different opinions on how best to care for your tattoo during the healing process and every artist will have slightly different advice. The goal is simply to speed up the healing process and prevent infection. A tattoo normally takes anywhere from 7 to 21 days to look fully healed, depending on the type, style, size and placement. Each person's natural healing abilities are varied.
Here is a set of guidelines that have been used on clients that have proved to be successful in most cases.
1) WHAT YOU WILL NEED WHEN YOU GET HOME:
Water-base lotion (scent-free) such as LUBRIDERM, CUREL, AVEENO, or AQUAPHOR
2) LEAVE YOUR BANDAGE ON FOR 3-5 DAYS:
After you receive your tattoo, it will be cleaned and wrapped with a breathable Derm bandage. Your artist will recommend the timing for removal of Derm bandage, generally 3-5 days after your appointment.
In some cases, you’ll need to remove the bandage due to plasma build up. Your artist will provide you with an additional bandage that you will re-apply after steps 3 and 4 below. Your artist will advise you if this scenario applies to you.
3) USE WARM WATER TO REMOVE DERM BANDAGE:
While in the shower, carefully remove Derm bandage while warm water is running on the affected area.
4) PAT DRY WITH A CLEAN PAPER TOWEL:
Once dry, let your tattoo get 2 minutes of air. Wash your hands prior to applying a water-base lotion.
5) APPLY WATER-BASE LOTION:
Apply water-base lotion 2-3 times a day for 5 days. Use the smallest amount possible to moisturize the tattoo. Make sure to rub in completely.
6) THINGS TO AVOID DURING HEALING PROCESS:
DO NOT submerge your tattoo in water until fully healed. No Jacuzzi, swimming in pools or ocean, soaking in the tub, or sitting in steam room.
NO sun during healing process.
Wear loose fitting clothes on affected area until fully healed.
Try not to sleep directly on your new tattoo.
Try to avoid sweating in or overworking the tattooed area, so you may need to cut out some gym days.
DO NOT scratch at tattoo while healing.
7) ALLERGIC REACTIONS & INFECTIONS:
Reactions to tattoo ink are a possibility, especially red ink. It is possible to be allergic to any of the products used on your tattoo, including the adhesive on the Derm bandage. Although it is unlikely, allergic reactions to everything have occurred. In this situation, contact your artist first to discuss and send them an image of the tattoo.
You can minimize the dangers of getting an infection by being diligent with keeping your tattoo clean and following the previous advice. If you feel like you have a serious problem, then consult your physician immediately for diagnosis.
8) AFTER YOUR TATTOO HAS HEALED:
Continue using lotion indefinitely on your tattoo. It will help keep your tattoo looking fresh.
It is best to avoid direct sunlight even once your tattoo has healed. This will contribute to your tattoo becoming faded and sun damaged. If you will be in the sun for any period of time after healing process, use the highest SPF waterproof sunscreen hourly on your tattoo to avoid sun damage to the piece.