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Tattoo aftercare

Table of contents

Aftercare routine

With specialized film (Saniderm)

Day 1

Keep the specialized tattoo film on your tattoo first the first 24h.

Day 2

If your tattoo artist gave you extra sheets of tattoo film, remove the tattoo film and clean the tattoo gently using your fingers with a mild antibacterial soap, pat dry with a paper towel. Then apply a new one on the clean tattoo and keep it for the following 5-6 days.

If you didn't get extra sheets of tattoo film, keep the one that's on your tattoo for the first 3-4 days and then switch to the washing and moisturizing routine.

Day 5 to 15

Remove the tattoo film and clean the tattoo gently using your fingers with a mild antibacterial soap, pat dry with a paper towel.
At this point you can switch to a routine of cleaning and moisturizing your tattoo.

Day 16 to 30

You can now switch to only moisturizing the tattoo multiple times a day when you feel it becoming dry.

With regular cling film

Day 1

3-4 hours after leaving the tattoo shop gently remove the bandage covering your tattoo.
I recommend using clean sheets that you don't care staining for the first few days of healing your tattoo.

Day 2

Start the washing and moisturizing routine: once during the day clean the tattoo gently using your fingers with a mild antibacterial soap, pat dry with a paper towel and then apply some moisturizing balm. Add moisturizing balm on the tattoo when you feel it getting dry during the day.
Always wash your hands before touching your tattoo (for applying balm for example).

Day 3 to 15

Continue the washing and moisturizing routine like on day 2.

Day 16 to 30

You can now switch to only moisturizing the tattoo multiple times a day when you feel it becoming dry.

Mild antibacterial soaps:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (diluted)
  • Dial antimicrobial liquid soap

Moisturizing balms:

  • Coconut oil
  • Aquaphor healing ointment

Stages of tattoo healing

Stage 1 - Swelling, oozing, soreness (day 1 - 6)

This stage starts during the tattooing session or just after it finishes, the area of the tattoo is usually gonna be swollen, especially if a lot of shading or solid ink was done, the swelling comes from increased blood form in the damaged area, a way the body has to heal wounds. Additionally there may be oozing a mixture of blood, plasma and ink this is a normal part of the healing.

Stage 2 - Itching and flaking (day 7 - 14)

This is usually the most annoying phase, the tattoo and the skin around it will feel itchy and flakes of skin may come off, especially when cleaning the tattoo, it is important to refrain from scratching or pulling on the dry skin since it can damage the tattoo and create a pathway for bacteria. Dry scabs might start forming around that time too, these will protect the healing skin from bacteria and foreign substances.

Stage 3 - Dull and cloudy (day 15 - 30)

At that stage the top layer of the skin is healed but the lower layers of skin are still in their healing process. Most of the flakes of skins and scabs should be gone by now, depending on the size of the tattoo, bigger scabs may still remain. The tattooed skin may look shiny under some light during this phase and the tattoo itself may look dull and cloudy, this is normal. The clarity of the design will come back as the skin finishes to regenerate itself.

Placements that need extra care

Some tattoo locations need some extra care in order to help the healing process in addition to the aftercare routine outlined above.

Feet and ankles

  • Keep your tattooed feet elevated when sitting down or laying down the first days after getting the tattoo
  • Try to minimize rubbing on the fresh tattoo from socks / shoes, avoid walking long distances

Side and shoulder tattoos

  • These placements can make sleeping awkward and it’s best to try to keep the tattoo from rubbing or sticking to bedsheets during the healing process

Palm tattoos

  • It is recommended to get un-powdered exam gloves to cover the tattoo during the first phase of healing, change the gloves 4 times a day and apply lotion before putting on gloves.
  • After 4 days you can stop putting on the gloves and resume the normal aftercare routine

Signs of infection

Here are some early signs of infection, if your tattoo is infected, these symptoms will worsen over time. Keep a close eye on a tattoo that start to show any of these symptoms and if they persist or worsen, consult a doctor immediately.

  • Tattooed area feel warm to the touch
  • Increasing pain on or around the area
  • Worsening redness after phase 1
  • Bleeding from the scabs
  • Oozing fluids (especially if yellowish or greenish) after phase 1
Last modified on 2022-09-28, published on 2022-03-30