Useful Tips On How To Heal Your Tattoo
Healing your tattoos without any bandages or coverings is in this artists opinion the safest way for your aftercare. This is especially the case for people who don’t have much experience in healing tattoos.
It is very important that you follow these tattoo aftercare instructions to the letter if you want to avoid your tattoo fading or loosing ink during the healing process and if you want to avoid nasty infections. Fine detail in portraits or realistic tattoos is often lost through wrong healing. Traditional styles are usually a little more “hard wearing” but should nonetheless be looked after correctly.
First of all your tattoo is an open wound and needs to be cared for accordingly. Avoid exposing it to prolonged sunlight or soaking it in water. Swimming, sun beds, laying around on a sandy beach as well as leaning on a grimy bar in the pub etc are to be avoided all together. I mean you wouldn’t rub sand and dirt into a scratch or scrape you have gotten from coming of your bicycle would you?
The cling-film wrapping is there to keep the ink in while your skin pores are still open from getting tattooed. It also helps keeping dirt away while you are on your way home. However, it also stops your tattoo from breathing and keeps germs enclosed to fester and grow. For this reason you should not keep the cling film on for more than 3 hour from the time your leave the tattoo studio. Your skin pores should close up enough during this time and the ink will stay put.
When you get home, after 3 hours with the cling film on, remove the cling-film and carefully but thoroughly wash the tattoo with a none-aggressive soap (I find that standard blue antibacterial hand wash works best). Then dab the tattoo dry with some kitchen roll / paper towel. Do not use cotton towels as these will leave fluff behind. Also do not rub the tattoo, you don’t want to agitate it. Just carefully dab of most of the water and leave the rest to air dry for 20 to 30 minutes. Follow these instructions every time you was the tattoo. Your tattoo does not need to be re-covered, not even over night. Just wash it in mornings to remove any fluff from the bedding.
After this has been done, apply a pea size amount (or a little more for large areas) of Bepanthen (this is a nappy rash cream available in every supermarket, drug, store or pharmacy). You don’t want to smother the tattoo in cream, you just want or keep it from drying out and forming a scab. Repeat this every 3 to 4 hours. The aim is to find a balance between not letting the tattoo dry to form a scab and not putting on so much cream that it can’t breath. Do not use Vaseline or petroleum jelly as this doesn’t let the tattoo breath. Do not use moisturizers, as even the milder ones contain perfumes and other chemicals which can agitate the tattoo. Do not use Savlon or similar as these will encourage scabbing which is not a good thing. The reason why you want to avoid scabbing is that when the scab forms and falls of, it will take a layer of skin and the ink in with it. This may also scar the tissue which will make your tattoo look bad.
I often get asked about special tattoo products for healing tattoos. I am no chemist or doctor and though I am not saying that these don’t work, I don’t know which can be trusted. Some of them are experimental products and one cannot guarantee the results. In any case opinions are divided about the results of healing with such products.
I say “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Stay with traditional tattoo aftercare and healing methods such as using Bepanthen. This has been bringing good results since decades and I see no reason to change it.
Now, as I already said earlier, do not take baths. Take a shower once a day and wash the area of the tattoo with the antibacterial hand soap then dry and cream as outlined above. Do not wash or get the tattoo wet more than once a day! DO NOT EVER pick or scratch the tattoo. If it gets itchy, carefully apply a small amount of Bepanthen and then leave it alone. If you can endure the pain you can handle the itch.
After approximately 2 to 5 days, the tattoo will start to peel. This is normal, don’t do anything different to it and now be extra careful when washing, drying and creaming your tattoo. You want to have the pealing bits fall off on their own without any assistance.
After the pealing there while be a new and fragile layer of skin over the tattoo. Be careful not to break the skin and keep maintaining the area carefully.
Keep using the Bepanthen cream for up to 4 weeks. After the second week it should be sufficient to apply the cream 2 to 3 times a day just to keep the skin from getting dry.
I have already mentioned some common sense things like no sun, sand and dirty bars, and of course there is no swimming in pools etc. You also have to look after yourself and your immune system. Stay away from excessive alcohol and drug use while your tattoo is healing. Try to eat well and stay hydrated. This will help your to tattoo heal quicker and avoid infections.
This should be about all. I would encourage you to ask any tattoo aftercare questions you may have using the comment from below. Don’t be shy, there are no stupid questions and I’d rather you ask than me having to fix your tattoo. Thanks for reading and enjoy your tattoo.