1. The first stage of healing begins right after your tattoo is finished. At this point, you can consider the area an open wound, and you’ll need to treat it accordingly. Your artist will gently wash the area and bandage it to protect it from bacteria.
Many people describe a fresh tattoo as feeling similar to a sunburn. The area tends to sting a bit, and it can look red and become a little raised or swollen. This is all a natural part of the healing process. You’ll begin to form scabs over the area, and you shouldn’t attempt to remove them. Just gently hand wash the area once or twice a day with a very mild soap, pat dry with a fresh paper towel and gently dab on a light amount of the moisturizing aftercare lotion.
2. The second stage of healing usually brings the onset of itching. At this point, the scabs are well formed and probably just beginning to flake off – a process that will continue for about a week. The skin around the tattoo may become a bit dry. Most people experience some peeling, just as they would with a sunburn. Try to avoid peeling the skin. Just allow it to slough off naturally and, by all means, do not scratch your tat. Scratching can cause damage and ultimately spoil the look of your tattoo by the time healing is complete. Applying more aftercare lotion to the area should bring some relief.
3. Stage three brings the final healing of the area. By this point, most or all of the scabs have fallen away from your tat, although the area may still be slightly dry and mildly tender. You may notice that your ink no longer looks as vibrant as it did when it was first finished, and this is natural. There is typically still a layer of dead skin over the tattoo at this point that obscures it a bit, but once that layer naturally sloughs away you’ll see what your new tattoo really looks like. If you’ve managed to avoid infection and scratching, it probably looks great.
What NOT To Do:
- Do not apply soap or lotion with fragrances. They can irritate the tattoo.
- Do not go swimming, chlorine can pull color and dry out your new tattoo.
- Do not go into direct sunlight and tanning beds, this can cause your tattoo to fade.
- Do not pick your tattoo, it will make it look like crap.