Stages of Healing for a New Tattoo
At Stick Tattoo, we try to provide as much education and knowledge about the tattoo process as possible. After all, proper tattoo aftercare is nearly as important as the actual tattoo application itself. If interested in proper tattoo aftercare, be sure to read our article on our tattoo aftercare instructions.
Many of our customers are often curious about the various stages of healing that your new tattoo will go through. To help get a better understanding of this, we have outlined those various stages below.
- Immediately following your tattoo, you may notice some redness, swelling or bruising. This is fairly common. Within the first couple of hours, the limb or area may be stiff and sore, as well as tender to touch. To your body’s immune system, your new tattoo is viewed as an open wound. So it will react as such, beginning to heal your body naturally.
- After a few hours, you can remove the wrap or bandage that was applied immediately after your tattoo from your artist. You should not be alarmed by the possibility of blood, plasma, ink and other fluid that may have compounded on your skin. You will want to gently wash your tattoo with warm water and antibacterial soap. Pat dry and do not wrap or cover your tattoo, but rather keep your tattoo open to the air.
- During the first week, you will continue to experience swelling, redness, and possible oozing that will gradually get better towards the end of the week. The tattoo will still remain tender to touch. Continue to wash, dry and apply a thin layer of ointment.
- The second week following your tattoo, you will start to notice more itching, skin flaking and scabbing. This is a normal, and essential part of the healing process. This means that your dead skin is falling off, and your new skin is replacing it.
- Your tattoo will start scabbing towards the end of week one, and into week two. DO NOT pick at these scabs! These scabs are part of the healing process and removing these scabs can directly effect the outcome of your tattoo. These scabs may still be attached to the ink-bearing layer of your skin, so removing them prematurely will make your tattoo blotchy and discolored.
- This stage of the healing process can be quite difficult as the itching and scratching may feel overwhelming. Solving the itch can vary from person to person, but remember – the worst thing you can do is pick at your tattoo or scab! We recommend patting the itching area, or even applying pressure to the agitated area.
- By the end of week two, your tattoo should not be swollen, red, or show any bruising. You should also notice less, if any, itching or scabbing. Your tattoo is almost healed!
- By the third week, you are now in the final stages of your tattoo healing process. However, your tattoo may look faded or washed out. This is still part of the healing process, and still requires continued care.
- Your risk of infection is drastically reduced, and should show no signs of bruising or swelling. You should also be nearing the end of any itching or agitation from your tattoo. We still recommend applying moisturizing lotion 2-3 times during the third week. But, remember to apply in thin layers, and not over-apply.
- After your third week of care, you are good to resume normal activity, such as swimming and sun exposure on your tattoo. We still recommend caring for your tattoo, such as sunblock and moisturizing lotion when applicable.
Extreme pain, oozing of white or greenish substances, foul-smelling tattoos, and fever are all signs of a tattoo infection (see below). If you think you might have an infection, see a doctor right away.