Congratulations on your new tattoo! Whether it’s your first or the latest addition to your body art collection, taking proper care of your tattoo is essential for ensuring its longevity and promoting a healthy healing process. In this comprehensive guide to tattoo aftercare, we’ll walk you through the necessary steps and precautions to help your new tattoo heal beautifully.

Why Is Tattoo Aftercare Important?

Tattoo aftercare plays a vital role in the healing process and overall outcome of your tattoo. Proper care not only helps prevent infection but also promotes faster healing, reduces scarring and maintains the vibrancy of the ink. By following these guidelines, you’ll give your tattoo the best chance to heal well and look its best for years to come.

How to Take Care of a New Tattoo

Keep The Tattoo Covered 

After getting a fresh tattoo, your tattoo artist will apply a protective covering. Leave it on for the recommended time to shield your tattoo from bacteria, dirt, and friction. This covering also prevents clothes from rubbing against the sensitive area, reducing the risk of irritation.

Wash Your Tattoo Regularly

Gently cleanse your tattoo with mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm or cold water. Use your fingertips to remove any blood, plasma, or excess ink. Avoid using abrasive materials or scrubbing forcefully. Pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel afterward.

Moisturize… a Lot

Applying a thin layer of fragrance-free, tattoo-specific moisturizer to your tattooed skin will keep it hydrated and aid the healing process. Moisturize your tattoo 2-3 times a day, using clean hands to avoid introducing bacteria. Remember, a little goes a long way.

The SHADE of It All (Do NOT Expose Your Tattoo to the Sun) 

Sun exposure can damage your new tattoo, leading to fading and potentially causing skin complications. Keep your tattoo covered or, once it has fully healed, use a sunblock with a high SPF to protect it from harmful UV rays.

Avoid strenuous exercise or workouts

Intense physical activities and workouts can cause excessive sweating, rubbing, or stretching, which may irritate your healing tattoo. Take a break from rigorous exercise until your tattoo has fully healed to prevent complications.

Don’t Wear Tight Clothing

Wearing tight or restrictive clothing can hinder the healing process by causing irritation and preventing proper airflow. Opt for loose-fitting garments made from breathable fabrics to allow your tattoo to breathe and heal comfortably.

Don’t Pick at Your Scabs

As your tattoo heals, scabs will form. Avoid picking, scratching, or peeling them, as it can damage the underlying tattoo and prolong the healing time. Let the scabs naturally fall off on their own, revealing the healed skin beneath.

No Swimming

Swimming pools, hot tubs, and natural bodies of water are potential breeding grounds for bacteria and other contaminants. Refrain from swimming until your tattoo has fully healed to prevent infections or color fading.

Use Lukewarm or Cold Water

When washing your tattoo, opt for lukewarm or cold water. Hot water can be harsh on the healing skin and potentially worsen inflammation. Cool water helps soothe the area and reduces discomfort.

Avoid Alcohol for a Few Days

Alcohol can thin your blood and increase the risk of bleeding around your tattoo. It can also hinder the healing process. It’s best to avoid alcohol for a few days after getting your tattoo to promote proper healing.

Don’t Shave Over a Fresh Tattoo

Shaving over a fresh tattoo can cause unnecessary irritation and potentially introduce bacteria, leading to infection. Avoid shaving the area until it has completely healed.

Drink Plenty of Water

Proper hydration is essential for your overall health and aids in the healing process. Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated, which helps promote healthy skin and efficient healing.

Tattoo Aftercare Day by Day

Day 1

Follow the instructions provided by your tattoo artist regarding keeping the covering on and caring for the initial dressing. Avoid touching your tattoo with dirty hands and keep the area as clean as possible.

Days 2-3

Begin gently washing your tattoo with mild soap and lukewarm or cold water. Apply a thin layer of fragrance-free, tattoo-specific moisturizer after drying. Repeat this process 2-3 times a day.

Days 4-6

Continue washing and moisturizing your tattoo. You may notice scabbing and peeling at this stage, which is a normal part of the healing process. Resist the urge to pick at the scabs.

Days 7-14

Your tattoo will continue to heal, and the scabs will gradually fall off. Continue with your cleaning and moisturizing routine, ensuring you maintain good hygiene to prevent infection.

Days 15-30 

By this point, your tattoo should be mostly healed. However, it’s still essential to keep up with good aftercare practices. Apply moisturizer as needed and protect your tattoo from any sun exposure.

Signs You Should See Your Doctor

While most tattoos heal without complications, it’s essential to recognize the signs that may indicate a problem. If you experience any of the following, consult your doctor:

  • Excessive redness, swelling, or pain that worsens over time.
  • Pus or fluid oozing from the tattoo.
  • Foul or abnormal odor.
  • Development of a rash or hives around the tattoo.
  • Persistent fever or flu-like symptoms.


Taking care of your new tattoo is crucial for a successful healing process and maintaining its vibrant appearance. By following the tattoo aftercare guidelines outlined in this article, you’ll give your tattoo the best chance to heal beautifully. Remember, be patient, stay diligent, and enjoy the art you’ve adorned your body with. Happy healing!