There are many schools of thought that exist about tattoo aftercare, and while some of them may not be wrong, Art Machine Productions recommends the following:
Tattoo Aftercare Instructions:
• After the tattoo is finished, the Artist will bandage your tattoo. Remove the bandage after 1-2 hours. Your bandage may contain some colors from the ink, blood, and plasma. This is a part of the normal healing process.
• Using only your hand, wash your tattoo with plain, unscented antibacterial hand pump soap. Bar soap can harbor bacteria that you do not want on your fresh tattoo, and the chemicals in perfumed soaps will most likely burn. Again, use ONLY your hands, applying some pressure to be sure the area is completely clean. A washcloth, sponge, or loofah can cause unnecessary irritation.
• After washing, use a clean, soft, dry towel or paper towel to PAT the tattoo dry. Wiping to dry can cause irritation.
• After drying, apply a thin coat of Aquaphor over the tattoo. It is important that you use product from a tube and not from a scoopable jar. Bacteria can accumulate inside the jar after reaching in over several days to apply ointment to your tattoo. Use only Aquaphor from a tube to prevent from contaminating yourself or causing infection. Use only enough to keep the area moist. Too much can be just as bad as not enough and may cause excess scabbing or infection. Clean the tattoo as stated above and apply ointment 3-5 times a day for 3-5 days. It is important for your new tattoo to be able to “breathe”; therefore, it is not suggested that you keep your tattoo wrapped for long periods of time. Doing so will act as an incubator for bacteria and may contribute to an infection.
• As the tattoo begins to heal, it will flake, similar to sunburn. There WILL be flakes of color peeling from the tattoo. This is completely normal, and some loss of pigment is to be expected. DO NOT PICK at your tattoo during healing. This can cause gouges or spots where color does not hold. Over this period of time, your skin will continue to be sensitive and sore.
• Once flaking is almost done, the skin will have a thin, taut, slightly wrinkled appearance. At this time, you may stop using ointment and switch to a plain, unscented hand lotion, such as Lubriderm or Curel for another 2 weeks. Keep your tattoo moisturized to prevent over-drying of the still healing skin.
During the healing process, showering and washing is acceptable (and encouraged); however, DO NOT soak the tattoo in any body of water, such as but not limited to baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, lakes, rivers, or the ocean for at least 2 weeks. Soaking can cause premature scabbing that may result in loss of color, severe problems, and possible infections during healing.
Avoid direct sunlight on your fresh tattoo for at least the first month. Even after that, make sure to apply a strong sunscreen to it if you will be exposing it to excess sun. Sunlight will most certainly fade your tattoo. The more sunlight, the faster it will fade.
During healing, swelling and redness can occur. Keep the tattooed area elevated if possible and keep from intense physical activity, which may cause excess sweating around the area. We do not suggest going to the gym for several days until the tattoo has peeled and a layer of new skin has been formed. Gyms are notoriously unsanitary, and obtaining an infection in your new tattoo is highly probable if you choose to engage in exercise activity on a community machine. Much like a cut or burn, clothing rubbing against the area can also aggravate your new tattoo. Most swelling and redness will disappear after 4-6 days.
Please keep in mind: If you have just had a very sensitive area tattooed such as but not limited to the back of your knee, the inside of your elbow, or a thin spot such as the upper thigh/abdomen, your tattoo may look worse before it looks better. These areas are prone to a slow, uncomfortable heal. These areas may get a good amount of discolored scabbing, have more pain than usual associated with them, and will take longer to heal than other areas. If you are concerned about the way your tattoo is healing, contact your artist immediately.
If there are any questions, please feel free to contact Art Machine Productions (267) 239-2724. If there are signs or concerns of a serious infection, please contact your physician.