How to Avoid a Tattoo Infection: Proper Aftercare

If you don’t take care of your tattoo then you can risk infection, bubbling, ink fading, and bleeding – not someone that anyone wants to encounter! Since tattoos open up the skin you must remember that your fresh ink is actually an open wound, and treat it accordingly. We’ve got the tips to show you how.

One of the most important aspects about getting a tattoo is learning how to take care of it properly in order to avoid the risk of a tattoo infection. While most tattoo artists will give you very detailed and specific instructions on the proper tattoo aftercare they want you to follow, many will also give you a head start by supplying you with a few ointment applications until you are able to get to the store for a more ample supply of your own. An essential aspect of this aftercare, however, is understanding the potential issues that you may face such as infection, rashes and skin keloids. Educating yourself on the “what ifs” could help you in more than enough ways. You will not only be able to identify an issue before it spirals out of control, but you will also be able to take the necessary precautions to avoid them starting altogether!


If you are able to quickly recognize a problem, you will be more likely to avoid a disfigured or discolored tattoo. Even when you get a tattoo infection, if handled and addressed immediately, you will be able to clear the infection and save the tattoo. As you will see from the following examples, if and when a tattoo infection does spiral out of control, chances are that you could be left with a scar on your body where your tattoo used to be. This, we are sure, is the last thing you will want to experience, especially due to the fact that tattoos in general, are not a cheap hobby. You more than likely paid good money for your ink work, why ruin it by not taking proper care of it?


Keeping the area where you got your tattoo moisturized and clean at all times is vital to proper healing. While your skin adjusts to the ink, it will need moisture to help it settle and stretch properly. During the first few days, it is completely normal to experience raised skin in the area and shape of the tattoo – most people admit that it looks like the tattoo may have been branded on their skin. This is natural swelling caused by the ink in the under layers of the skin. During these first few days, the excess ink will push it’s way out of the skin. You’ll notice that as you apply ointment, the ink will seep onto your hands. Again, this is normal.


If you start to notice red bumps or rashes surrounding or on top of the tattoo, this may be signs that an infection is developing. You should call your tattoo artist immediately so they can determine if this is a reaction or an infection. Some reactions may look worse than they are. If you have sensitive skin, this may be a likely cause of irritation and does not necessarily mean that you have a tattoo infection.


A tattoo infection can look many different ways depending on your skin or the severity of the infection. Many people experience skin keloids that quickly turn to a flaky, cracked lump on the skin. This can be on or around the tattoo area and if left unattended, it could actually grow to the point where the ink of the tattoo or no longer visible.


During the early stages of a tattoo infection, you may notice that the tattoo may become discolored. This is the first sign that something is wrong. While color ink may fade if proper aftercare is not followed such as washing with soap too soon or exposing the ink to the sun within the first 8 weeks, it should not discolor. Discoloration, in this regard means that green ink will turn to yellow ink or brownish in color.


Another common form of a tattoo infection is when the skin surrounding the tattoo becomes coarse and brittle. You may feel the area tighten up and resemble a leathery like surface. This is a first sure-tell sign that the skin is not retaining moisture at all. When the skin is too dry, it can reject the ink and your body will attempt to fight off and contain what it thinks is a foreign object under the skin.


Proper Tattoo Aftercare

  1. Only keep the tattoo covered for the first two hours after getting it done. Remove the bandage or wrapping after 1-2 hours to ensure that the ink has room to breath. The natural air will help the healing process begin
  2. Keep the area clean and moisturized at all times. Use only the ointment that your tattoo artist recommends or a cream specifically for tattoo aftercare such as Tattoo Goo.
  3. For the first few days, do not let water or soap directly touch the tattoo area. You can use a warm washcloth to go over the area and keep it clean
  4. Avoid direct exposure to the sun, chlorine or salt water for at least 6-8 weeks
  5. Do not use alcohol products on or around the area for at least 4 weeks
  6. Do not pick the skin on the tattoo or rub abrasively
  7. When applying ointment, rub in soft, circular motions until entire area is covered






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