Aftercare for your tattoo
Very grossly underrated, good aftercare is essential, primarily to prevent infection and to expedite a smooth recovery of your new tattoo. On top of that, practising good aftercare will help your new tattoo to heal up nicely, minimising the need to return for a touch up (which is neither mandatory nor necessary for every tattoo, contrary to the popular belief).
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Wash and Treat
Gently wash away any ointment, blood and/or plasma and to completely clean the area. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive. Your hand is your best tool in this case. (If your tattoo feels slimy and slippery, you have probably been oozing plasma. Try to gently remove as much of this as possible - when the plasma dries on the skin surface, it creates scabs.) Then, firmly pat (do not rub) and dry the area completelty with a clean or disposable towel. Follow with a very light application of your choice of ointment or an antibacterial ointment.
Bathing, Showering, Hot Tubs, and Swimming
Yes, you can (and should!) shower with a new tattoo. It's OK to get your tattoo wet - just don't soak it. Submerging your tattoo in a bath or hot tub can cause serious damage, so you'll want to avoid those for 2-3 weeks, but showering is perfectly fine as long as you don't saturate your tattoo. If you get soap or shampoo on your tattoo, just remove it quickly with water. Swimming - whether it be a pool, fresh water or salt water - should be avoided for at least 2 weeks. Open water contains a variety of bacteria that can lead to wound infection.
Scabbing and Peeling
After a few days, you will notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing. Excessive scabbing could indicate a poorly-done tattoo, but a little is sometimes normal and there is no need to panic. Apply warm moist compresses to the scabs for about 5 minutes 2-3 times a day to soften them and they will eventually come off on their own. (Do not apply ointment or lotion to a softened scab - wait for it to dry) You will also start to itch, just like a sunburn when it begins to heal. The advice here is, don't pick, and don't scratch! If the skin itches, slap it. If it is peeling, put lotion on it. And if it is scabbing, just leave it alone. Your tattoo is almost healed, and now is not the time to ruin it!
Protection from the Sun
After your tattoo is healed, from now on, you will always want to protect it from the sun's ultraviolet rays. These can fade and damage a brilliant tattoo very fast. Before spending a lot of time in excessive heat, protect your tattoo with a minimum 30SPF sunblock. This will keep your tattoo vibrant for many years, and it will continue to be a source of great pride.
Do Not Sleep on Your Tattoo
For obvious reasons, you want to refrain from doing that until the tattoo has fully healed and scabbed over, at least. Just an additional piece of information–even after it heals, constantly sleeping on a tattoo will result in frictional wear and tear. Just saying...
UPDATED JAN. 2020