Tattoo Healing Timeline

What you Should and Shouldn’t Do With A Fresh Tattoo

Congrats on your new tattoo! Having fresh ink is exciting, but there are a few things you need to know about the tattoo healing process.

Proper aftercare for your tattoo is essential to make sure it heals properly and your custom tattoo design looking its best. If you’re not careful, you could delay the healing process or affect how it looks over time. 

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Tattoo Healing Timeline

The tattoo goes through several different healing stages. These are all a natural part of the process, and you don’t have any reason to worry unless you experience severe pain or ongoing irritation that can boil down to inflammation of the tattoo. 

The outer part of the tattoos usually takes two to three weeks to heal, which is generally considered as the healing time. However, the deeper layers of the skin need more time to fully recover, up to 4-6 months.

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A lot of first-timers are surprised to learn tattoos actually take as long as 6 months to heal. The most important stages are in the first few weeks after getting the ink done. Until you reach the 6-month mark, it’s essential to take good care of your tattoo with these dos and don’ts. 

Every person goes through the healing process differently, as it’s very individual how each body reacts. Nevertheless, these are the general 4 stages of tattoo healing:

  • Week

    1

    Redness

    The first stage is redness. This happens immediately after getting your tattoo and can last up to a week. During this stage, it’s normal for your tattoo to appear red and even to see ink coming out of the tattoo. If the “oozing” doesn’t go away after a week, talk to a doctor.

  • Week

    2

    Itching

    One of the biggest side effects of a tattoo is the itching. In the first few weeks after getting a tattoo, you’re going to experience some itching. It will also flake as the skin starts to heal. You can use a gentle lotion to help with this.

  • Week

    3

    Peeling

    Like a scab, your tattoo will begin to peel. This will happen after the second week. Since your body thinks your tattoo is in injury, it’s taking steps to heal the skin. Don’t worry, the tattoo itself won’t flake away.

  • Week

    4

    Aftercare

    Finally, even once your tattoo seems to be fully healed, you still need to take care. Aftercare is essential, and you’ll need to keep this up for 4-6 months.

Tattoo Healing Dos

What should you do to ensure your tattoo heals safely and without much irritation? It’s all about aftercare, as we mentioned already. You want to prevent your tattoo from getting infected and make sure it heals exactly as it should. Follow these tattoo healing dos:

Do keep your tattoo clean. 

When you get your tattoo, your artist will instruct you to keep it clean. They might give you a special cleanser, or you can get your own. You want to keep your tattoo clean to fight against infection. 

Always use a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soap to keep the skin near and on your tattoo clean. Wash your tattoo twice a day and after anything that might make your skin unclean, like working out. 

Do apply moisturizer regularly. 

After you wash your skin, make sure you apply a moisturizer. Moisturizing your skin prevents flaking and redness. Moisturizer will be your best friend when your skin feels itchy. 

Your tattoo artist might give you an ointment to use, but you can also pick one up at any store. Look for a gentle moisturizer that’s fragrance-free. Any light moisturizer or cream for sensitive skin gets the job done. 

Do apply sunscreen. 

Your skin is extra sensitive after getting a tattoo. While you should always be in the habit of applying sunscreen daily, you need to be extra careful after getting a tattoo. 

Unfortunately, direct sunlight might cause your tattoo to fade over time. This can’t be reversed, so avoid exposing your tattoo to direct sunlight. If you must, always keep it covered with sunscreen. 

How To Go About Tattoo Healing With Your Fresh Tattoo

Tattoo Healing Don’ts

While you should pay close attention to the steps above, there are also some don’ts to be mindful of. These are things you don’t want to do while your fresh tattoo is healing. The more aware you are, the better equipped you’ll be to keep your new tattoo looking great. 

Don’t scratch or pick at scabs.

When your skin is red and flaky, it’s tempting to pick at this skin. It’s really important that you avoid doing this. If you scratch too much, you could cause scarring or change the look of the tattoo. Instead, whenever you feel discomfort or notice flaking, apply a thick moisturizer. 

Don’t sweat too much. 

While it’s hard to control your body’s sweat levels, it’s important to avoid sweating more than normal while your fresh tattoo heals. Avoid hot weather and skip the intense workouts for a few weeks. Too much moisture is bad for a new tattoo. 

Don’t shave near your tattoo. 

It’s also a good idea to skip shaving for at least the first month after getting a new tattoo. A razor shouldn’t ever be used over healing skin. This not only might peel away the skin, but it’s also irritating. Skip the shave until the skin is healed!

Don’t overexpose your tattoo to sunlight.

Sunburns are bad even for skin that hasn’t recently gone through tattooing, so make sure your fresh tattoo stays away from direct sun exposure. However, in case you can’t avoid it, make sure to cover it well or use sun protection with the highest SPF factor you can find. There are even sunscreens specially made for protecting your tattoos, so be smart and protect your fresh ink!

How to Heal Your Fresh Tattoo Safely

If your fresh tattoo looks red and irritated, don’t worry. This is completely normal, and it’s only temporary. As long as you’re following these dos and don’t for healing your tattoo, you’ll be left with healthy-looking skin in no time. 

A tattoo is a big deal! Give your body the time and help it needs to heal. If you take your aftercare seriously, it pays off in the appearance of your tattoo. 

Have more questions about tattoo healing? We got you.

If you have a specific question about healing your current tattoo, just shoot as an email to work@tattoostylist.com. Our expert tattoo artists will provide quick answer to your burning questions.

Happy healing ❤️

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Milena Petrovic

Milena Petrovic

Co-founder of Tattoo Stylist

About the author

Milena has decided to start an organization that will create a safe environment for everybody to get their first, second or third tattoo and to encourage young people to transform their ideas into tattoos safely, with talent and vision.

You can find her writing about tattoos on Quora or updating our Pinterest profile with awesome tattoo ideas!

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