How Tattoos Work

Caring for a New Tattoo

Taking care of a new tattoo can prevent health problems and protect the quality of the image. Most artists give clients a pamphlet that explains all the necessary procedures. Customers generally receive instructions to:

  • Remove the bandage one to two hours after completion.
  • Wash gently with cool or lukewarm water, using a mild antibacterial soap.
  • Pat dry. (Don't rub!)
  • Apply very thin coats of antibacterial ointment and work into the skin. Too much ointment can pull color out of the tattoo.
  • Avoid soaking the tattoo in water or letting the shower pound directly on it.
  • Avoid the sun, sea and swimming pool until healed.
  • Refrain from picking at scabs. They will fall off as the tattoo heals, usually in one to three weeks.
  • Use ice packs if swelling or redness occurs.
  • Call a doctor if you have even the slightest signs of infection.

For more information about tattoos and related topics, check out the links on the following page.

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More Great Links


  • FDA/CFSAN: Tattoos and Permanent Make-Up
  • Tattoo knowledge base
  • Mayo Clinic: Tattoos and Piercings
  • Samoa: Tattoos
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control: CDC's Position on Tattooing and HCV Infection
  • The Vault: Tat Tactics: What Companies think of Your Tattoos
  • Scripps Howard News Service: A Marked Divide