So you did some soul searching and found that perfect design or had an artist draw it for you. You found the perfect tattoo artist and the ink has been laid down. So what do you do over the next couple of weeks and for the rest of the life (your life) of the tattoo?
Good tattoo artists will clean the tattoo after each session and apply antiseptic ointment to your tattoo. Expert tattoo artists know that this helps keep your tattoo healthy until the original protective bandage is removed. After that it it up to you!
Once the tattoo is finished, the artists should tell you how to take care of your new tattoo. Some of the better artists will talk to you and give you a detailed sheet with all of the information you need. If you went to a tattoo artist who didn’t explain this to you, you may be wondering just what you should do. Taking care of a tattoo isn’t hard – as long as you know what you can and can’t do.
First, keep the original protective covering on as long as you can. Don't take this to the extreme and leave it on for days. What we mean is that if you can wait until the following morning and remove it prior to showering, that would be great.
When you first get home with your new tattoo, you should never hop right in the shower. The next time you do take a shower you want to cleanse it with light soap and water, applying lightly with the tips of the fingers or the hand. Do not scrub or use any exfoliating soaps. Before you touch the tattoo or clean it, you should always make sure that your hands are clean. If you keep your hands clean, you won’t have to worry about an infection. Upon leaving the shower, pat dry (again no rubbing) and apply your protection once the skin is dry.
Many tattoo shops sell a tattoo goo of some sort. H2Ocean and others may be fine, but they are not necessary. For each of my nine tattoos I have used nothing but Curel Fragrence Free (about $4 at your local drugstore). Many artists also recommend a tube of A&D ointment. A&D ointment is meant to assist in the care of any abrasion which a tattoo is. A&D will keep your tattoo clean and shiny and should be used for the first few days. However, I still recommend the Curel - from experience and because the moisture will alleviate much of the itching and keep the skin moist.
Again, never rub the area too hard, or you could damage the healing process. Applying the lotion with your hand and lightly working the lotion all over with do the trick. The newest Curel product line has a 24 hour time release formula that works really well. You will notice that the area stays moist the entire day. However, I still reapply the lotion lightly over the course of the day whenever convenient. Applying after the morning shower, sometime midday, and before bed will definitely keep the tattoo in good shape. This is also why Curel does work for me - as you can rarely apply too much lotion to the skin.
After 5 – 6 days, you could quit using the lotion, but judge by the condition of the tattoo. One alternative is to use the A&D ointment for the first 3-5 days to keep your tattoo healthy, and then move to an unscented body lotion, such as the Curel for the next week. You want to avoid body lotions that have scents, as they can easily irritate the tender skin that resides under your tattoo.
After 9-14 days, you can stop using anything - your tattoo should be healed. Some tattoos, after they have healed, may leave a scab in some areas. If your tattoo has a scab, you should be careful and never pick at it. If you aren’t careful, you could end up damaging your design. The best thing to do is you have a scab is to leave it alone. You can put A&D ointment on it if you want, as most of the time a scab will itch.
For longevity remember to keep your tattoo protected with sunscreen anytime it may be exposed in the outdoors. If you are often outdoors or your tattoo is on an area that is always exposed, such as the forearm, look for a daily lotion that has an inherent SPF. This will provide some level of protection alwasy while keeping the skin moisterized.
You have spent good moeny for your tattoo, with less than $10 you can ensure it heals properly and looks its best. Taking care of your tattoo now will keep it healthy and infection free in the long run. If you follow the above advice on how to take care of your tattoo – you won’t have anything to worry about.