Washing Your Tattoo
Remove bandage after 3 hours, but no more than 12. Don’t remove the bandage until you can properly clean the tattoo with mild, unscented soap (Dr. Bronner's Baby Unscented Castile Soap, Dial Gold) and warm water. Rinse it well; taking off as much of the slimy coating that may have formed over the tattooed area while underneath the bandage (the slimy coating is plasma/white blood cells. Scabs form when the plasma dries on the surface of the skin). Gently pat it dry with a paper towel, then allow it to air-dry for 10 - 15 minutes before applying ointment.
Apply Redemption or another specialty tattoo-healing product to the tattoo as needed, massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moist, but NOT smothered. Use just enough product to moisturize the tattoo and blot off any excess with a paper towel. If the tattoo appears shiny, you have applied too much. Continue cleaning and applying ointment to your new tattoo 2-3 times a day for the first 3-4 days of the healing process. For the first day or two, your tattoo may require more cleaning or blotting, as the traumatized skin will still be losing a small amount of fluid. Once the tattoo starts the peeling stage, switch to After Inked or a fragrance free lotion like Lubriderm or Eucerin.
Maintaining Your Tattoo While It Heals
The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Limit yourself to short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling. It’s also important that a fresh tattoo be protected from the sun and dirty environments, as it’s still an open wound at this time. All normal activities involving water or sun exposure can usually be resumed after 10-14 days.
When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like a sunburn and become dry and itchy. Avoid picking and/or scratching at the cracked and flaking skin. Keep using lotion until the skin returns to its normal texture.
If bumps, bubbles, or pimples form on the surface of the tattoo, stop applying lotion, letting it dry and peel on its own. This bubbling is caused by moisture getting trapped in your tattoo, usually from too much ointment (mostly from petroleum based products like A&D and Aquaphor), and could lead to scabbing. If scabs develop, they can remove the color beneath them if prematurely removed. It’s important that they’re allowed to dry out completely, and not get waterlogged at any time. The scab will eventually fall off on its own, and the tattoo should be fine if no deep cracks have formed.
Remember that until your new tattoo peels, it’s an open wound and needs to be treated as one. Give your tattoo the time and attention it needs to properly heal. Engaging in actions such as swimming, tanning, removing the bandage early, picking at the tattoo, and general disregard for it, are done at your own peril. If you suspect an infection has developed, please seek medical attention immediately as untreated tattoo infections can have very serious consequences.
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