After your tattoo has been completed your artist will apply a cover. Keep this clear breathable bandage on for at least 24 hours ( better if left on for up to three days). DO NOT REBANDAGE. The time and attention you give to your new artwork during the initial healing will not only aide in the prevention of infection, it will also prevent the ink from fading.
To remove the cover, gently peel the edges while in the shower , allowing a light trickle of water to get underneath to help lift it off of the skin. Put a small amount of mild antibacterial soap (no perfumes) on your fingertips and lightly clean your tattoo. Rinse with an indirect water flow. Pat your tattoo with a paper towel and leave it alone for up to 20 minutes, until it starts to feel a little tight and dry. APPLY A LIGHT AMOUNT OF SOOTHING OINTMENT (see tattoo aftercare products) . DO NOT USE VASELINE. Continue this process 1-2 times daily. If it’s on an area like the wrist, hand or foot, washing 3 to 4 times a day is recommended. Continue this process for generally around 3-5 days.
Shower as you would normally but it’s definitely a good idea to keep the tattooed area out of the water as much as possible. The already fragile skin becomes even more so when it absorbs excess water.
Your tattoo will be sore for the first few days. A scab may begin to form prior to peeling. It may be thick in some places and thin in others. Some people do not scab at all while others do quite a bit. DO NOT PICK THE SCABS, they will fall off on their own. Often the skin flakes that are peeling off will be white or colored like your tattoo; it doesn’t mean your tattoo is falling out. This is normal and is just the pigment that was resting on the surface of your skin. Your tattoo will start to itch but IT’S VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO SCRATCH THE AREA OR PULL OFF THE FLAKING SKIN. If you should cause your tattoo to bleed at this point, which is very easy because the new skin covering your tattoo is still very fragile, you will likely lose the color in that spot. Once peeling starts, you may switch from your aftercare product to non-fragranced hypoallergenic lotion.
Once the peeling is finished, you’ll notice the skin over the tattoo is shiny, like the skin over a freshly healed scratch or scrape. There may or may not be small areas that appear cloudy or white. Don’t worry too much about these areas for right now, within a month or so the skin over your tattoo will look much like the “virgin” skin next to it. At this point, if you still have areas missing color you can consider coming back to get a touch-up done. REMEMBER IT CAN TAKE UP TO A MONTH TO FULLY HEAL AND ONLY THEN WILL YOU SEE THE FINAL RESULTS. If everything looks good, great!
Applying lotion to it on a regular basis will make the colors look as bright (or as dark) as they can. Wearing sunscreen with at least SPF15 whenever it’s exposed to the sun will greatly extend the life of your tattoo and keep colors true longer.
COMPARING NORMAL HEALING AND AN INFECTION:
Most tattoos look at least a little irritated right after being completed, though the initial irritation should begin to subside in a few days as the needle punctures heal.
It’s normal to experience the following symptoms for a few weeks while your tattoo is healing:
-Itching, scabbing, flaking, these signs are healthy. The scabbing and crust shouldn’t be picked at or scraped off. The crust helps seal the skin from outside organisms that can cause infection, so it’s a good thing.
“Prevention is better than cure”. If you have made up your mind to get ‘inked’ there are certain things that you must keep in mind to protect your precious tattoo from an infection
-Keep the area dry at all times. Protect ink from water and direct sunlight. Wrap it lightly if you must take a bath, and keep it covered while going out.
-Cold conditions accelerate the healing process, while hotter places can induce an infection. So, set your air conditioner at a lower temperature.
Follow all aftercare instructions to the letter, and if in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact the shop. IF an infection is suspected, do not waste time and go see your doctor.
If you have any questions or comments during the healing of your tattoo, please contact your Tattoo Artist.
SIGNS OF INFECTION
Symptoms of Infected Tattoo: Do not panic if you have any of the following symptoms, they are easy to treat, although you want to catch the infection as soon as possible. Here are some symptoms to watch for:
Extreme redness or irritation- If your tattoo starts looking bubbly and bright red then this could be a sign of an infection and you should go see your doctor immediately. Your doctor may prescribe an oral antibiotic and/or an antibiotic topical ointment.
Fever- This is one of the surest signs of a tattoo infection, even if your temperature is just slightly elevated, then you should check with your doctor immediately.
Pain- pain should decrease after a few hours. If the pain increases, or you start getting shooting pains then you should check with your doctor.
Swelling- A little swelling is normal just after the application of your tattoo, but if it gets worse or doesn’t decrease after a day or two then seek medical attention straight away.
Unusual Odor- If you notice a very unusual smell coming from your tattoo then this could be a sign of infection
Discharge- If you have any puss coming from your tattoo then this is a sign of an infection and you need to seek medical attention straight away.
Red Streaks or Sores- if red streaks or sores develop on or around your tattoo then this could indicate a simple infection or something more serious like blood poisoning or a staph infection therefore if you get this then you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Watch closely for symptoms of an infected tattoo. If you see any signs of infection with a fresh tattoo, a visit to the doctor is in short order. Most infections are easily treated with an antibiotic and resuming aftercare procedure. However, significant infections can result in blood poisoning if they are allowed to progress for too long.
DO NOT use ANY product marked “For External Use Only” including, but not limited to, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, lidocaine (e.g. Bactine), triple antibiotic ointment (e.g. Polysporin), antiseptic (e.g. Betadine).
Use products that will not irritate the piercing and will facilitate fast healing, such as:
- A mild, fragrance-free liquid soap-preferably anti-microbial or germicidal.
- Packaged sterile saline solution with NO additives, or a non-iodized sea salt mixture: Dissolve 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon of non-iodized (iodine-free) sea salt into one cup (8 oz) of warm distilled or bottled water. A stronger mixture is not better; a saline solution that is too strong can irritate your piercing.
Wash your hands before cleaning your piercing. Use the cleaning solution(s) recommended for your piercing for the *entire* healing time. Do this even if the piercing looks or feels healed sooner.
- Do not move the piercing jewelry when the site is crusty; it does more harm to the piercing site than good.
- Do not play with the new piercing, physical irritation is the worst!
- When clothing is in contact with the piercing, make sure it is clean, loose and breathable.
HEALING TIME ESTIMATIONS
EARLOBES: Usually heals in 4 – 8 weeks; use saline twice daily, sea salt soaks as desired for comfort.
EAR CARTILAGE: Usually heals in 6 months; use saline twice daily, as cartilage is prone to developing cysts. Be sure to rinse jewelry and ear after shampooing to remove residue. Clean ear after using styling products. Cartilage piercings are tender to sleep on, avoid sleeping on your new piercing as irritation will extend the healing time.
NOSTRIL-NOSE/SEPTUM: Usually heals in 10 – 12 weeks (septum, 4 weeks); use a saline solution twice a day- inside and out by saturating a q-tip (for easy access to the piercing area). Avoid twisting, tugging and playing with the piercing. A jewelry change can be done in 6-8 weeks providing it’s well-healed.
EYEBROW: Usually heals in 8 – 10 weeks; use saline twice daily.
TONGUE: Usually heals in about 4 weeks; use alcohol-free antiseptic mouth wash 2 – 4 times daily. Substitute saline as needed; saline can be used as often as desired. You will have swelling for about a week. Rest your tongue. Do not stick it out past your teeth for the first week. Eat small frequent meals and frozen fruit bars. Advil, Aleve and Motrin will help swelling but may also cause bleeding so don’t overdo it. Drinking alcohol in any quantity will significantly increase swelling during the first week or two. Drink plenty of water. Brush teeth gently at first; do not brush the tongue during healing. Expect to see some lymph drainage coming from the piercing site. No kissing (or any oral contact) until healed. Check to be sure the barbell balls are screwed on tight and be sure to ‘downsize’ after healing.
LABRETS-LIPS-BEAUTY MARKS: Usually heals in 8+ weeks; use saline twice daily, inside and out. Remember that intra-oral healing appears white. If a stud was used, expect the disc to embed slightly into the lip over time, but do not allow new skin to form over the disc. If this begins, see your piercer immediately for a jewelry change. Downsize post length on stud (if used) after two weeks.
NAVEL: Usually heals in 6 – 9 months; use saline twice daily. Expect some redness at the edges for up to a couple of months. A hard, vented eye patch can be applied under tight clothing or secured by using an elastic bandage around the body. This can protect the area from restrictive clothing, excess irritation, and impact during physical activities such as contact sports. Pants or skirt lines should be worn below your navel or it can be irritated so badly that it will not heal.
NIPPLES: Usually heals in 4 – 6 months; use saline twice daily. No oral contact until fully healed. This piercing can produce “crusties” for a year or more. During the first few days, many women report that wearing a bra helps with soreness. A sports bra is helpful at night. Men usually find a tighter fitting cotton tank top is helpful as well.
SPECIALTY LEVEL ONE MALE GENITAL; Healing time may be from 6-8 weeks for the foreskin or penis, to 3-4 months or longer for the frenum and perineum. genital surface piercings are all susceptible to infection due to the closed-in nature of the genital area of the body and limited air circulation. Because of the constant irritation from clothing and general movement, these piercings may take longer to heal. The jewelry inserted into the penis may limit the effectiveness of condoms by causing tears. Imprecise piercing may damage nerves and blood vessels located in the penis. Infection or allergic reaction may extend time required for healing. Neglecting appropriate aftercare may increase likelihood of infection and extend healing time.
SPECIALTY LEVEL ONE FEMALE GENITAL; Healing time may be from 4-8 weeks for a piercing of the clitoral hood, 6- 8 weeks for the frenulum labiorum and labia minor, to 3-4 months or longer for the labia major. Your piercer should provide you aftercare instructions specific to your piercing. The genital surface piercings are all susceptible to infection due to the closed-in nature of the genital area of the body and limited air circulation. Because of the constant irritation from clothing and general movement, these piercings may take longer to heal. Infection and allergic reaction may extend time required for healing. Neglecting appropriate aftercare may increase likelihood of infection and extend healing time.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND ADVICE FOR ALL PIERCINGS
Swimming: Chlorine can over dry a new piercing. It is best to avoid soaking in pools and hot tubs. Stay away from rivers and lakes while healing; they are full of bacteria. In cases of accidental exposure, clean your piercing immediately afterwards.
Keloids/Scars/Cysts: Some piercings are prone to developing keloids or scars, or cysts. A cyst is a fluid filled bump very close to the piercing. Usually they are tender; do not attempt to pop a suspected cyst. Regular sea salt soaks encourages drainage. Should a cyst occur, and sea salts soaks offer no relief, contact your physician.
SIGNS OF INFECTION:
The piercing site will exude a yellow/greenish pus (which can be avoided if consistently using the saline solution daily)- be sure not to confuse this with a white discharge, which is completely normal during the healing process