These guidelines are based on a combination of vast professional experience, common sense, research, and extensive clinical practice. This is not to be considered a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. If you suspect an infection, seek medical attention. Be aware that many doctors have not received specific training regarding tattooing. Your tattooist may be able to refer you to a tattoo friendly doctor.
How to Take Care of Your New Tattoo:
Disregard any advice from friends and family.
We are licensed professionals and the proper healing of your new tattoo is very important to us.
Your bandage should be worn for 1 to 2 hours. Thoroughly wash your hands and dry them with a paper towel before removing the bandage. If you find that the bandage is stuck to your tattoo, try running the bandage under water. You DO NOT however, want to soak your fresh tattoo in ANY water to include but not limited to bathtubs, swimming pools, hot tubs, lakes, and ponds. These all have chemicals, dirt, and all kinds of nasties that can cause infection. Showers are fine-just NO SOAKING!
Using a mild, fragrance-free soap (Dove, Dial, and Neutrogena); gently wash all excess blood, ointment, ink, and plasma from your tattoo. Only use your hand – DO NOT use a washcloth or loofah as they can harbor bacteria.
If you are not sure which soap to use, read the ingredients. If alcohol is listed as one of the first few ingredients, DO NOT USE IT. Soap with fragrance and alcohol will burn and can over-dry the skin.
After washing the tattoo, pat it dry with a paper towel. DO NOT use a hand or bath towel. Towels can harbor bacteria. DO NOT re-bandage your tattoo. It needs to “breathe” and get air to heal properly.
Wash your tattoo once or twice a day for the duration of the healing time. Too much washing can wash away your body’s natural bacteria which helps your skin to heal. Washing the tattoo in the morning and at night before you go to bed is sufficient. For the first day, the tattoo will “ooze” clear plasma. This is completely normal.
There is NO NEED to use any ointment on your tattoo. Most ointments are for fighting infection and are contributing to antibiotic resistance. Additionally, ointments can “suffocate” the tattoo by not letting enough air get to it which can cause excessive scabbing. Ointments also lead to higher rates of dermatitis in tattoos.
Before going to bed, wash your hands and wash your tattoo. Sleep in something old (yet clean) to cover the area that was tattooed. Most tattoos will ooze clear plasma the first night and this can stain and stick to clothing and sheets.
By the second or third day, your tattoo will start to dry out. It will start to flake like a sun burn. You will see large black and colored flakes coming off, especially in the shower. This is completely normal. DO NOT under any circumstances, pick or “help” these flakes come off. Doing so will result in the loss of line and color in your tattoo as well as cause scarring. And YES, we can tell when someone has picked at their tattoo! In addition, DO NOT wear tight clothing that may rub the tattoo.
When your tattoo starts to flake and peel, you may then start using 1or 2 drops of fragrance-free hand lotion. Keri, and Curel are both good choices. Rub the lotion in completely or blot excess off with a paper towel. If you unsure if the lotion you have at home will work, read the label. If alcohol is near the top of the list of ingredients, then DO NOT USE IT. You may also do a spot test if you are unsure. Rub just a small drop into a small section of the tattoo. If it starts to burn or sting in a couple of minutes, then wash it off immediately and discontinue using it.
Continue to use the above steps until your tattoo is completely healed. Healing time varies with each individual and the area that was tattooed. Generally, tattoos are fully healed in two to three weeks.
During the healing process, DO NOT use anything on your tattoo that you wouldn’t use on any other wound or abrasion. This includes oils, glitter, sun block, etc.
If you have special circumstances that require you to alter our advised healing method, please ask the artist or staff. An example would be someone that works in an industry where their fresh tattoo might be exposed to dirt, germs, etc. while it is healing.
Do always wear sun block over your tattoo when in the sun or tanning bed only after it is healed. This will prevent any fading or color loss. This means for the rest of your life! We find that the highest rating is the best and apply liberally throughout your sun exposure time. Try using the new sun block sticks that attach to key chains to help you remember. They also make it easy to apply sun block to only the tattoo while you are tanning.
DO wear something old (yet clean) to bed the first night. Most tattoos will “ooze” and seep clear plasma and excess ink for the first day and night. This is normal but can stain sheets and clothes.
Your fresh tattoo should be considered an open wound. NEVER EVER touch your tattoo with dirty hands, fingernails, clothing, shoes, etc. This is the NUMBER 1 reason why infections occur. NEVER let anyone else touch your fresh tattoo either. USE COMMON SENSE!
Swelling and bruising of the area around the tattoo is common. Some people bruise easily, some do not. In addition, certain areas are more prone to bruising and swelling. Lower extremity tattoos (ankles, feet, calves) are more prone to swelling if you have to be on your feet for prolonged periods. Ibuprofen and elevating the affected area can help.
Tattoos on the foot and wrist:
Tattoos on the feet and wrist are notoriously hard to heal. These areas also have a higher chance of becoming infected because of exposure to germs and bacteria due to door knobs, keyboards, computer mice, dirty shoes, carpet, etc. It is EXTREMELY important to keep these areas clean and to NEVER touch your tattoo with dirty hands. It is advisable to buy a new pair of cheap shoes that can be easily cleaned in the washing machine after you get your foot tattooed. Wash the shoes in the washing machine before wearing them. Make sure they are loose fitting and all socks should be smooth and “fuzz free” on the inside.
Above all, if you have ANY questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call us or stop by. That’s what we are here for! We know what looks normal and what does not and we’ll assist you in any way that we can. We put a lot of hard work into your new tattoo and care about it just as much as you do.
Again, our number is 573-442-8287.
Living Canvas Staff