Getting a tattoo is always an exciting experience. It may be painful, yes, but all that’s nothing compared to the high you feel whenever you look at the art embedded in your skin. That said, you won’t have much to look at if you don’t take proper care of your tattoo during the healing process. Tattoo aftercare isn’t a joke, it’s a lifetime commitment that will require patience and discipline.
Here’s a useful infographic that actually outlines and summarizes everything you need to do during the first 30 days.
The first few days are crucial. Your tattoo will be weeping and oozing blood and ink. You wouldn’t want all this gunk to dry up on your skin. Else, it can coagulate and cause an infection. You need to clean up your tattoo with lukewarm water and antibacterial, unscented soap. Do this for a few days until the wound stops weeping.
Once the tattoo is clean, you can either apply a thin layer of healing ointment like Aquaphor or A+D. Or, you can forego the ointment and just dry heal. Just make sure you don’t put Vaseline on the tattoo – it’s going to block your pores and prevent it from healing properly. Your tattoo needs to breathe, so let it!
When your tattoo finally stops weeping, it will start scabbing. If you clean up the area regularly, the scabbing will be light and thin. This stage will be extremely itchy. Don’t attempt to scratch the area – simply tap it to make the itch go away. You can also apply a cold compress (but put some cloth over the tattoo first) or you can even take some antihistamine if the itch becomes unbearable.
Scratching the scab or pulling at loose, peeling skin can lead to ink getting pulled out prematurely as well. You want to avoid this at all cost. Why? Because it can cause blank or patchy spots in the design. That’d be a waste of good art. You can always go back to your tattooist to have the patches redone, but it may come at an extra cost. And you’ll essentially be going back to step 1 of the tattoo aftercare process again.
Lastly, it’s important to moisturise your tattoo. Since the ink is inserted in the dermis layer, you need the skin to be healthy as much as possible. Tattoos on well-hydrated and well-moisturised skin look way better than tattoos on dry, wrinkly skin!