Sure, your new intricate feather tattoos look great and are reeling in tons of compliments but what if they suddenly get infected and bulge up? It will not be a pretty picture. Remember a tattoo isn’t complete until it is fully and properly healed. So read on take the following advice to heart.
Let your tattoo breathe
You have just actually been cut – your skin has been scarred. Like any wound, your tattoo needs to breathe. If the artist covered your fresh tattoo with saran wrap or any kind of plastic that keeps air out, hit him in the head! This is very harmful to both your tattoo and your body. A proper bandage that allows air to circulate and penetrate through is what should cover your new ink, especially if you have chosen complex designs like Polynesian tribal art, an intricate flower or peacock feather tattoos.
Don’t leave your tattoo bandage on for too long though – about two or three hours should be enough. When you remove the bandages, try to be in a clean environment so you don’t catch any unnecessary germs. Avoid dusty places and do not be in a fly or insect-infested area.
Wash, clean and dress
Once the bandages are off, DO NOT SCRUB your tattoo! Using a mild antibacterial soap and warm water, gently wash the tattooed area with your fingertips or hands. Remove any excess ink, ointment, and blood to avoid scabbing. If your tattoo feels slippery or slimy, it is probably because of the plasma seeping out, so wash this off too. If your tattoo is big and hard to reach, you can remove the bandage and take a warm shower but let the water run over your tattoo indirectly – do not let the full shower force hit your fresh wound. Be very careful. Ask someone to help you if possible.
Pat your tattoo dry with a clean soft cloth or just air dry it. After washing, work in a thin coat of ointments like Tattoo Goo, Vitamin E oil or A&D Ointment. Put just enough to keep your skin moist. If it gets runny or liquefies then you put too much and you should dab off excess ointment with a clean paper towel. In the next two weeks, you are not to brush or wipe the tattoo with a washcloth or anything rough.
Caring for a week-old tattoo
After you bring your “new baby” home and have it properly cleaned and dressed, care during the first week is pretty simple. You do not have to re-bandage your tattoo once you take the initial one-off. The simple rule of thumb now is: keep your tattoo clean. But don’t exaggerate. You don’t need to wash your tattoo every two hours. Washing it once or twice a day should be good enough. Apply ointment whenever the tattoo starts feeling stiff but don’t put too much; doing this will avoid the formation of thick, hard scabs that may crack as you move. Remember the delicate peacock feather tattoos we were talking about? It will turn into a blurry mess if you let the scabs form without care.
So you have to determine how much (or how little) moisture ointment to apply because skin types differ. If the right amount of moisturizer is applied, a thin protective layer will form on the tattoo. This will eventually peel off like dead skin on a sunburn so don’t panic if you see think flakes of colored skin falling off – it is normal in the healing process.
Things to avoid
There are of course other precautions that need to be taken. First, do not peel or poke or pick your tattoo and healing skin. Keep your showers under 10 minutes and keep away from the ocean, swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, and Jacuzzis. When you take a shower, apply a layer of Vaseline on your tattoo so it won’t get soaking wet.
Avoid staying out in the sun for too long or exposing your tattoo to excess heat. Do not shave or scratch over your tattoo. You should also avoid contact sports (duh!) as well as skin to skin contact with other people and with animals. Try your best to stay in clean dry places. No matter what tattoo you get – a simple star outline, a complex feather tattoo or a colorful anime – let the ink settle and let your wound heal out.
If despite all these precautions you still manage to get an infection, irritation or allergic reaction, see your doctor ASAP.