Ideally, a tattoo artist should offer guidance on how care for a tattoo. Opinions about the best way to care for a tattoo will differ from one artist to another, but there will always be common threads of agreement on how to best care for a tattoo.
Relationship with the Tattoo Artist
It is very important to take into account the counsel offered by the tattoo artist who applied a tattoo. This is because the artist will bear some form of responsibility on the way the tattoo heals and any touch ups that may follow. Instructions given the by an artist on how to care for a tattoo should be followed because failure to do so may foul the relationship with the tattoo artist and professional care and touch ups may not be forthcoming. At the very least, instructions given by a tattoo artist should form a guideline on how to care for a tattoo.
After a new tattoo is applied, the artist will usually clean the area and apply some anti-bacterial treatment. The tattoo is then covered with a bandage or another form of dressing. This bandaging offers the broken skin protection from airborne bacteria. While there is a strong urge among many people to remove this bandaging, it should remain in place for at least two hours.
There are various types of bandaging used by tattoo artists. The two main ones are ABD gauze dressing and plastic wrapping. ABD dressings are considered effective protection from bacteria. Plastic wrapping has some controversy, with some people arguing it is easy to apply and remove and forms an effective protection against bacteria. On the other hand, some argue that such plastic wrapping on tattoo prevents good airing of the tattoo that is essential for healing of the tattoo. It has also been argued that plastic wrapping increases skin temperature and creates an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
There is no specific duration after which a tattoo covering should be removed. Plastic wrapping should be removed within two hours after it is applied. Variations in the amount of time a tattoo is covered will depend on the size of the tattoo, its location in the body and the type of covering used. The tattoo artist who applied the tattoo should offer advice on when to remove the bandaging. Soaking the bandage in warm water eases the removal of the bandage and ensures that it does not stick on skin.
According to most tattoo artists, new tattoos should be cleaned with mildly warm water with liquid anti-bacterial soap. The tattoo should be gently rubbed and all traces of blood and ink removed. Directly washing a new tattoo under a tap is discouraged as it may harm the tattoo. A paper towel is recommended for use when drying a new tattoo after washing it. Afterward, it is good to apply an anti-bacterial treatment on the tattoo to help with healing. It is recommended that such treatment be non-scented and water based. This treatment should continue until the tattoo peels and heals.
Activities to Avoid
In caring for a new tattoo, one should avoid scratching the tattoo as it may lead to infections from dirty fingers or result in skin injuries. Soaking the tattoo should also be avoided, and this means that swimming in the ocean, pools or even soaking in a bathtub should be avoided.
Direct sunlight to a new tattoo should also be avoided to ensure that the skin does not blister and that the colors on that tattoo are not bleached. It may take about three to four weeks until the tattoo is fully healed and can be exposed to sunlight.