Tattoos are a fun, popular way for people to express themselves, share their history, and even tell stories, but one of the more difficult parts of getting a tattoo is letting it heal. When someone gets a new tattoo, regardless of location, it will take a few weeks to heal. Here are some tips to help the healing process go smoothly:

Moisturize

Like any wound, keeping the area from drying out is key. When someone first gets their tattoo, the tattoo artist will typically wrap the area in gauze to help soak up any bodily fluids that remain while your skin begins to scab over. Once the bandage comes off, you can clean the tattoo and moisturize the area, but avoid putting another bandage on. Your skin needs to breathe, and moisturizer works just fine on its own. It is best to moisturize your tattoo 3-6 times per day, and/or whenever it needs to be washed until it is fully healed. Unscented moisturizers, shea butter, cocoa butter, and petroleum jelly are all excellent options for keeping your tattoo moisturized—the fewer ingredients the better!

Cleaning the Tattoo

The first time you clean your tattoo, you may find some extra blood and ink left on your skin. Your skin may also be warm to the touch and a little red because the tattooed area is beginning to heal. When washing your tattoo, be gentle. Using warm (not hot!) water, clean hands, and unscented soap, gently lather the soap over the tattooed area to clean it. In some cases, you may need to use a cotton swab or gauze pad to get hard-to-reach areas. After the first day, be sure to clean your tattoo twice a day, applying moisturizer after every wash.

The Healing Process

It typically takes about 3 weeks for a tattoo to heal, but if not given proper attention, healing may take longer. Since the healing process is similar to that of a wound, it is important to remember to keep up with your aftercare routine until you are certain the area is fully healed. While this may take weeks, it is best to follow aftercare instructions until redness and itching have subsided.

What to do in Case of Infection

If a tattoo gets infected, you’ll be able to tell from a rash, bumps, excess swelling, and redness in the area. Other signs of infection include discolored drainage around the tattoo, and a pause in the healing process—an infected tattoo may even hurt worse than when you first came home with it. However, later stages of infection may also include a fever and chills. If your tattoo is infected, speak to a doctor right away—there are many causes for a tattoo infection, ranging from improper aftercare to allergies, to even health violations on the artist’s end. Regardless of the cause, your doctor will be able to help reduce symptoms and stop the infection.

Remember to always do your research into where you want to get your tattoos done and ask your doctor if you have any questions on how getting a tattoo may affect your immediate health.

 

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