Caring for a new tattoo or piercing
Whether you're getting a tattoo or piercing to commemorate a special life-changing event, to express yourself, or to be reminded of something meaningful to you, you most likely want your tattoo or piercing to last a very long time. That's why it's crucial that you follow the aftercare instructions to a tee.
How should you care for a new tattoo right after getting one?
Aftercare instructions will vary from tattoo studio to studio. Listen to the instructions your tattoo artist gives you. That being said, the majority of advice will tell you to:
- Leave the covering on the new tattoo for the first two to five hours. Then carefully remove it and gently wash the tattoo with lukewarm water and mild liquid soap.
- Apply a thin layer of moisturizing cream like A&D ointment for diaper rash that protects the skin from outside organisms. Some tattoo artists will tell you that you can cover the tattoo again with plastic wrap or gauze or leave it open to the air. Repeat this process three to five times a day.
- Keep the tattoo clean and dry, and avoid soaking it in water for at least a month. Showers are fine, but baths should be avoided.
- Keep out of direct sunlight. Try not to expose your tattoo to direct sunlight. Healed tattoos, particularly colored ones, can fade in the sun. Once your tattoo is completely healed, you should always apply a high 50+ SPF to it if you're going to be outside.
- Don't itch your tattoo. As a new tattoo heals, it might scab or flake slightly. Avoid picking at it, as this may remove the ink in the area and lead to fading.
- Need retouch ups? After about six weeks, you can ask your tattoo artist to retouch areas of your tattoo that may have faded.
Remember to be patient with healing times. They all depend on how well you heal and the size of the tattoo design. This can range anywhere from a week to several months. Be sure to follow all aftercare instructions for as long as your tattoo artist has told you to do so.
What about piercings?
Many people find that it's easier to care for a new piercing than a new tattoo. Again, follow any specific aftercare instructions your piercer has given you. As a general rule of thumb, most recommend:
- Wash a new piercing with soap and water twice a day. Avoid using rubbing alcohol since this can cause a fresh piercing to get too dried out and crack.
- Before touching your new piercing, always wash your hands with soap and water to avoid introducing bacteria into the area.
- Only "turn" your piercing when it's wet as you are cleaning it. If your piercing is dry, don't move it.
- If you notice swelling or redness, your piercing is most likely just irritated. But you should always double-check with your piercer to ensure it's not infected.
Ear lobe piercings tend to take two to three months to heal, while cartilage piercings can take anywhere from three to ten months to heal completely. Once your piercing stops bothering you, it's most likely healed.
Whether you're looking after a new tattoo or piercing, keep in mind that patience is key! Don't be afraid to reach out to your tattoo artist or piercer with any questions.
But what if you regret your tattoo or piercing?
The good thing about tattoos and piercings is that while you should consider them to be permanent when you make the decision to get them, there are safe ways to remove or fade them. With piercings that are still healing, you can remove the piece of jewelry keeping the hole open and allow it to naturally close up. With tattoos you want to get rid of, laser tattoo removal is an effective, non-invasive option. It can remove pigments over a series of treatments, leaving the surrounding skin unharmed. Check out LaserAway.com for more information on tattoo removal options.