Tattooed Wrists

Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

A fresh tattoo is an open wound and should be treated as such for at least two weeks after your procedure.  Follow these instructions to insure safe healing for your tattoo, and contact your artist immediately if any questions come up regarding the healing process that these instructions do not answer.  In these instructions, the words “tattoo” and “open wound” are used interchangeably.


What to purchase on your way home from your procedure:


-Unscented, anti-bacterial soap: Dr. Bronners, Dial, Softsoap, Cetaphil, Meyers

-Unscented lotion: Aquaphor, Bayer A+D, Cetaphil, Eucerine, Lubriderm, Aveno, Curel, Alba


  1. Leave your bandage on for at least 4 hours but do not exceed 10 hours (if we wrap up your tattoo in the evening, we recommend sleeping with the bandage on the first night.)

a.  The bandage will prevent outside bacteria from getting inside of your open wound.

  1. The lack of air will prevent the plasma from drying out and reduces the formation of scabs.

  2. Ensure that your bedding, towels, clothing, and any fabric that may come in contact with your wound for the next two weeks are all clean. Re-used fabrics harbor bacteria.

  3. Thoroughly wash your hands with a liquid, anti-bacterial soap prior to touching your tattoo with warm water for 30 seconds.

  4. When you take the bandage off, immediately wash the tattoo under very warm water to remove excess lotion, blood, and ink.

  5. When cleaning the tattoo, gently rub the tattoo in one direction and be sure to not scrub.


  1. We recommend proceeding the first tattoo cleaning by choosing one of three ways, depending on your preference and artist’s suggestion.  All of these processes will open up your pores and force out the blood that is emerging between the layers of your skin, helping remove the blood that would create a scab.  You can repeat the process twice a day for the initial 3-4 days of healing:

    1. Soak a new paper towel with very hot water (not so hot that it will burn you) and apply it to the tattoo for 5 minutes.  Using the same paper towel, re-soak it in hot water and place back on your tattoo.  Repeat this process 8 times.

    2. Hop in the shower and steadily increase the water temperature until it is slightly warmer than you would normally shower.  Do not make it so hot that it will burn your skin. Let the water run over your wound for at least 10-15 minutes, then turn the water cold and let it run for a few minutes.  

    3. Let your wound run under warm-hot water (but not stinging hot) for 30 seconds, then switch to running cold water for 30 seconds.  Repeat this process 8 times.


  1. After the initial cleaning, allow the tattoo to air dry for about 10-15 minutes and then apply a very thin layer of Aquaphor ointment and gently work it into the skin.  It should be in your skin, not on top – if your tattoo looks shiny or wet after applying the lotion, wipe away excess ointment with a clean paper towel. Over-applying lotion may clog pores and compromise your healing process, so it’s much better to apply small amounts of lotion more often rather than larger amounts less often.  Make sure you keep your tattoo from drying out.

    1. Never let your tattoo dry out.

    2. Staying hydrated is vital for healthy skin.  You can tell if you are hydrated if your pee is clear.

    3. Alcohol raises and thins blood pressure, which makes it difficult to solidify and heal wounds.  It can cause profuse bleeding or intoxicating your tattoo’s pigment.  Avoid consuming alcohol for two weeks.


  1. Your tattoo might push out some bodily fluid and ink during the first full day.  Be careful what you wear to sleep and how you sleep!  Do not sleep on your new tattoo. Wear loose clothing or let it completely air out as much as possible for the next two weeks. Oxygen is vital for your wound to heal - the more the better. 

    1. It is normal for the wound to release plasma and excess ink during the initial healing phase.  The tattoo may stain clothing and bedding the first couple days, so be sure not to sleep in your most expensive fabrics. 


  1. For the next two weeks, clean your tattoo with unscented, antibacterial soap at least twice a day (mornings and evenings.) 

    1. Keep physical activity to a minimum to prevent sweating.  If you sweat during the 2-week healing process, make sure you immediately wash the wound off with unscented, anti-bacterial soap.  Do not let excess bacteria sit on your tattoo.

    2. Moving and stretching of the skin can damage your new tattoo.  Avoid strenuous activities until you are fully healed. 

    3. Your tattoo should never be slimy or oozy.  Keep it clean and moisturized to make sure you never let body fluids dry on the tattoo.


  1. No picking, scratching, or shaving the wound for two weeks. Avoid gyms, animal hair, saunas, hot tubs, baths, mud wrestling, sharing intense physical contact with anyone, ocean adventures, or anything else that will introduce bacteria into your wound.  Stay away from dusty and dirty places – getting dust or dirt in your wound will cause an infection.

    1. Sweat will move bacteria from other parts of your body onto the new tattoo.


Other Very Important Tidbits:

  1. Avoid the sun at all costs, as every second of UV rays will cause the pigment to fade.  After your tattoo has healed, always use sunscreen with an SPF 50+ on your tattoo every single time you are in contact with the sun or tanning bed. 

  2. Do not soak your tattoo for the full two-week healing process.

  3. It is normal for your tattoo to peel and flake within the first week of the healing process.

  4. Do not wear tight clothing or jewelry near the tattoo.  Avoid wearing anything that might irritate or scratch your wound.

  5. If scabs appear, do not peel them or rub them.  They will usually be the same color as your pigment.  If you scratch or rub them, you risk fading and scarring, as well as an infection caused by bacteria from under your nails.  Keep it moisturized and clean.

  6. As with no sunning your tattoo, do not use sunscreen on your tattoo for two weeks until it is fully healed.

  7. A tattoo is a lifelong commitment and to prolong the longevity of your artwork for the years to come, properly taking care of it is a must.

  8. Contact your physician at the first sign of infection.

  9. Contact your artist with absolutely any aftercare questions you might have.

 

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