A beautifully done tattoo is a work of art. To most people, tattoos are that extra dash of sauce that expresses their personality, some get inked to honour someone or something and some say that tattoos complete them. For whatever reason you’re getting inked, one thing has to stand out most: how you take care of your ink once you get the tattoo (s).
Last week, I came across an article that talked of a man who died from swimming right after getting a new tattoo. He went swimming way too soon after getting inked and contracted a bacteria that eventually caused septic shock and he unfortunately died. This is but one of the many stories of people who either ignore the instructions given after getting inked or don’t get the proper care instructions.
Getting the tattoo
Before we even get to the care after a tattoo, the first and most important thing is making sure you get yours from a legit tattoo parlour. Don’t risk getting a weird infection by going to a dingy place just to save a few shillings.
The risk of infections from the machine used is really high; from the potential to getting an allergic reaction, infections and longer-term conditions like Hepatitis B and C and even HIV are greater by the day.
Make sure the studio surpasses the threshold of health and safety. The tattoo artist must disinfect their hands and wear gloves for every customer. Non-disposable instruments must be sterilized and make sure that the needles used come from sealed packages.
Post tattoo care
Now, you have your fresh new tattoo, and you want to take good care of it! From this point on, you are solely responsible for your tattoo; here are some tips you can use to make sure it doesn’t get infected:
Listen to your tattoo artist
Usually, your tattoo artist gives you guidelines on what to do and what not to do during the first few weeks. Listen to their instructions!
Leave the bandage alone
Yes, you might be curious about how your tattoo is coming along but pestering your bandage and your fresh wound won’t help you. The bandage keeps air-borne bacteria from invading your wound and opening it too early exposes the wound to become a breeding ground for infection.
After you remove the bandage, you will want to wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap to gently wash away any ointment or blood to completely clean the area. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive, use your hands to softly wash the area. Also, pat (do not rub) the area firmly with a CLEAN towel or paper towel to get it completely dry.
After showering/bathing, there’s an ointment you should apply to the tattooed area. Your artist should advise on which ointment and it’s easily available in pharmacies and chemists around town.
Considering the fact that people are told they can shower after getting inked, most people assume it’s the same thing with swimming.
It’s OK to get your tattoo wet but it’s not okay to soak it. For the first three or so weeks, avoid swimming or soaking the tattoo. It’s still a fresh flesh wound so treat it with care.
After a few days of getting inked, you will notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing. Excessive scabbing could indicate a poorly done tattoo, but a little is sometimes normal and there is no need to panic.
You can take a few warm moist pieces of cloth or compresses to the scabs for about 5 minutes 2-3 times a day to soften them and they will eventually come off on their own.
Do not scratch! You’ll only destroy the skin. You can apply a bit of ointment around it but refrain from scratching.
Exposure to sun
After your ink has healed, you now need to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays just like you do with your normal skin. The skin around the tattoo is still quite sensitive and too much exposure can damage your tattoo. Be sure to get one with a minimum 30SPF sunblock.
If you notice any signs of infection, redness or irritation that last longer than one day, even after taking good care of it, see a dermatologist or physician immediately.
I am an idealist, an emotional dreamer. A goddess encapsulated in a densely melanated work of art. On normal days, I am an environmental enthusiast, PR practitioner, Events organizer, Coffee addict, Poetry lover. I also sometimes jot down my thoughts at toashtraysandheartbreaks.wordpress.com