Cleansing your new tattoo is a big part of aftercare. The right amount of washing and moisturizer can help you to heal faster and have a tattoo that looks better.
The recommendations in this article are designed to prepare you and guide you in the aftercare of your body art. They are not meant to replace instructions from your tattoo artist.
How Often Should You Clean Your Tattoo?
Your tattoo does not have to be washed the first day that you get it. After the ink has been applied the artist generally cleanses the area and applies an antibacterial ointment to help protect you.
On the second day, you should begin to wash the area two to three times each day. It is important that you continue the two to three times a day cleansing until the wound has scabbed over and the scabs have turned loose and fallen away. It can take anywhere between 14 days and six weeks for the wound to totally heal.
After the scabs have fallen away and the area is completely healed it is recommended that you wash the design daily and then protect it from drying by using a moisturizer after you cleanse it.
Why do All of This Washing?
Washing the area where the new ink has been placed will help you to keep bacteria from entering the open wound.
To introduce the ink to your body the artist had to use sharp needles that punctured your skin. The needle deposited the ink in the dermis region of your skin and left an open hole where it entered and exited your body.
Tattoo needles are not singular devices they are groups of multiple needles that penetrate your skin repeatedly. You can have hundreds or thousands of tiny penetration points left after a tattoo procedure. That is hundreds to thousands of tiny portals that bacteria and germs can use to enter your body and start infections, and other complications.
Washing the area two to three times a day helps to remove any bacteria or contaminants that might be resting on your skin.
Step by Step Washing Guide
To properly wash your tattoo, follow these simple steps.
Make sure you have the following items:
- Antibacterial soap that is fragrance and dye free
- Ointment, oil, or moisturizer
- Bandage materials if the wound is still bleeding or oozing, or if you are afraid that the wound will be exposed to sunlight or extreme dirt situations
- Clean water that is lukewarm not hot
- Soft dry cloths for washing and drying the area
- Wash your hands thoroughly using the antibacterial soap. Dry your hands on a clean cloth.
- Remove the bandage that is covering the wound.
- Moisten a soft cloth with water and use the damp cloth to apply the antibacterial soap. Pat the soap onto the area gently and do not rub or create excessive pressure.
- Rinse the soap from the cloth and then pat clean water over the area to rinse away the soap residue.
- Use a dry cloth to pat the area dry. DO NOT RUB!
- Apply a thin layer of lotion to the area to help keep the skin from excessive drying.
- Apply a bandage only if your wound is bleeding or oozing, or if you are going to be out in the sunlight or wearing clothing that could rub the wood and create bleeding or oozing.
Repeat this process two to three times each day. Pay careful attention and inspect the wound for excessive swelling, redness, bleeding, or signs of infection.
You have not completed the process of washing your wound until you apply lotion to moisturize the skin.
The ointment or lotion that you apply will create a protective barrier that can stop bacteria from being able to enter the tiny perforations created by the needles and equipment.
After a short period of time, a scab will begin to form that helps create a better barrier to stop bacteria. You still need to apply moisturizer to the area but you need to make sure that you gently pat this moisturizer in place and do not rub the scab or cause it to prematurely turn loose and expose the raw area beneath it.
Body art like tattoos are beautiful ways that you can express who you are and what you are passionate about. Taking excellent care of that body art is the only way to ensure that the ink remains clear and beautiful on your skin for many years.