So you just walked out of a tattoo parlor after having the “trial by fire” that is your new tattoo, but you’re not really sure how to go about taking care of your fresh ink? You’re in the right place.
First of all, be sure to follow any specific advice your tattoo artist gave you. If you got no advice at all, consider seeking a different tattoo artist for future work. If your tattoo artist put a bandage over your tattoo, don’t take that bandage off for at least an hour after getting your tattoo, preferably two hours. I realize you probably want to show off your fresh ink to your friends & family, but having to wait to show it beats an infection any day of the week. Getting a tattoo counts as a minor surgical procedure, so you will want to treat it as such.
Also, be sure to avoid sunlight, swimming, and taking baths as much as possible for at least the first 2 weeks. Showers are fine, but try not to let the water hit your tattoo directly, and keep any body wash, deodorant, etc. away from your tattoo. Dyes & Perfumes can cause a reaction with the ink in the tattoo that will cause you a lot of discomfort, and possibly destroy parts of the tattoo.
After the bandage is off, you’re going to need 2 things: A mild, perfume-free antibacterial hand soap (you can find this pretty much anywhere), and a tube of A & D Ointment (can usually be found in the baby aisle of your local Wal-Mart, or other supermarket).
First, wash your hands & arms with the antibacterial soap. After that, re-lather your hands, and gently rub some of the soap onto your tattoo. Use your hand to splash water onto your soapy tattoo untill all of the soap has been rinsed off. Allow the tattoo to air-dry if possible. If you’re in a hurry, you can gently pat your tattoo dry using a paper towel, but don’t rub it. Remember, your tattoo is an open wound, so treat it as you would a normal cut, with a few exceptions…. mainly, no neosporin on a tattoo…. ever.
After the tattoo is dry, apply a thin layer of A & D ointment across it, making sure that just enough is there to coat the skin & leave a glossy sheen, but not enough to leave a visible layer of ‘goo’. Repeat the washing / ointment application process every day after your morning shower, somewhere near midday, and before you go to bed. Keep up this routine for the first 7 days. If the tattoo begins to peel or itch, leave it alone. It is simply a sign of healing, and if you scratch or pick at it, you risk messing up the ink, and going throug this ordeal all over again.
After 7 days, switch from A&D Ointment to a perfume-free lotion such as Avino or Lubriderm, and keep washing the tattoo before you moisturize it. This ensures that the tattoo has a moist, germ-free environment in which it can heal. You should continue putting the lotion on the tatto for 3 weeks after the first week (1 month total care time).
After 2 weeks, if you plan on going out into the sun, apply a high-quality SPF-30 or better sunblock to your tattoo to keep the ink from fading, and the tattoo from blistering.
After the 1 month period, you’re free & clear. You can stop washing, but try to keep applying the lotion once every couple of days, and always use sunblock if you plan on spending time outdoors. If you follow these directions, your tattoo will stay looking brand new for years to come.