For safe and happy healing, get the lowdown on showering with a new tattoo.
So, you've got a new tattoo? Congrats!... but now you're home, hot and sticky from a session in the chair, and wondering when you can hit the shower?
It's a common concern, particularly among first-timers: how do I shower without damaging the fresh artwork? In this article, we’ll guide you through the dos and don'ts of showering with a new tattoo, ensuring you and your new ink have a healthy and happy healing journey.
How long after a tattoo can you shower?
After getting a new tattoo, it's important to wait at least 24 hours before showering. This delay allows the tattoo to begin the healing process and ensures that the open wound has had enough time to close, reducing the risk of infection. Following the instructions provided by your tattoo artist is crucial, as they may have specific recommendations based on the size and location of your tattoo.
How to shower with a new tattoo
When it's time for your first shower, follow these tips to keep your new tattoo safe and clean:
- Keep it brief: Limit your showers to 5-10 minutes to avoid prolonged exposure to water, which can soften scabs and damage the healing tattoo.
- Lukewarm water: Use lukewarm water instead of hot water, as hot water can increase blood flow to the tattooed area and cause bleeding.
- Gentle hand-washing: Avoid using harsh soaps or scrubs on your fresh tattoo. Instead, choose a mild, fragrance-free soap and gently wash the tattooed area with your hand, avoiding excessive rubbing or scrubbing.
- Pat dry: After showering, pat the tattooed area dry with a clean, soft towel. Avoid rubbing the tattoo, as this can irritate the skin and potentially damage the ink.
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Protecting your tattoo with a waterproof wrap
It’s all well and good advising you to wait 24 hours for a shower. And, when it finally comes, to limit yourself to short, sharp spurts while your tattoo is healing.
But maybe you’re naturally a three-shower-a-day kind of person (heads up, this is probably too many!) and the thought of a five-minuter in the morning is simply unbearable? Or, more seriously, you find yourself hit with an unexpected spell of hot weather on the day of your appointment and you get home desperate to cool down.
For whatever reason you need to shower sooner, more regularly, or longer, than is recommended, you can protect your new tattoo with a waterproof wrap or bandage when showering. This should help your tattoo from being excessively exposed to the water and therefore reduce the risk of infection.
Typically, a medical-grade waterproof bandage such as Saniderm can be used on your skin for the duration of your shower. This should allow you to shower within 3-4 hours of having a tattoo. Just remember to remove it once you’re done.
What not to do when showering after a tattoo
To ensure the proper healing of your tattoo, it's crucial to avoid certain actions while showering. Here's what not to do:
- Direct water pressure: Don’t allow the showerhead to directly hit your tattooed area. The forceful water pressure can irritate the tattoo and hinder the healing process.
- Soaking the tattoo: Avoid submerging your tattoo in water, such as in baths, hot tubs, or swimming pools, during the initial healing period. Prolonged exposure to water can soften scabs and increase the risk of infection.
- Scratching or picking: Never scratch or pick at the scabs or flakes forming on your tattoo, especially while showering. It's crucial to let them naturally slough off to prevent scarring or colour loss.
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Showering with a foot tattoo
In addition to the general advice of showering with a new tattoo, some tattoos may require a bit of extra attention when it comes to showering.
People with foot tattoos, for example, may want to consider protecting their tattoo before stepping into the shower with a waterproof bandage or wrap. This will ensure it doesn’t stand in potentially dirty, excess water in the tray.
Also, when showering, be careful not to let the water stream directly hit the foot tattoo. Position your foot away from the direct flow of water, or use your hand to shield the tattooed area. Direct water pressure can irritate the tattoo and hinder the healing process.
If you’re getting a tattoo in an area you think could be a problem when showering, speak to your artist who'll be happy to share their advice.
Showering when your tattoo is healed
Once your tattoo has fully healed, you can return to your regular showering routine. However, it's still important to practice good tattoo aftercare to maintain the vibrancy and longevity of your ink.
A typical tattoo aftercare routine for your healed tattoo might go something like this:
- Use mild soap: Continue using a mild, fragrance-free soap to cleanse your tattooed skin. Avoid harsh or heavily perfumed soaps that can cause irritation or dryness.
- Moisturise: Apply a thin layer of a tattoo-specific moisturiser or unscented lotion to keep your skin hydrated. Moisturising regularly helps preserve the colours and prevent dryness or cracking.
- Avoid excessive sun exposure: Protect your tattoo from prolonged sun exposure, as UV rays can fade the ink over time. If you need to be under the sun, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to your tattooed area.
- Clothing considerations: Choose loose-fitting and breathable clothing to prevent unnecessary friction and irritation on your tattoo.
How to know when your tattoo is healed
The healing time for a tattoo varies from person to person, but it generally takes around two to four weeks for the outer layers of skin to fully heal. However, the deeper layers may still be healing beneath the surface.
Here are some signs that indicate your tattoo is healed:
- No more scabs or flakes: Once the scabs and flakes have completely fallen off, it's a good indication that the healing process is complete.
- Smooth texture: The tattooed skin should feel smooth to the touch, without any rough or raised areas.
- Vibrant colours: If your tattoo has maintained its original colors and looks vibrant, it's a positive sign of a successful healing process.
- Absence of redness or inflammation: The tattooed area should no longer be red, swollen, or tender. If you notice any persistent redness or signs of infection, consult a healthcare professional.
How long after a tattoo can you shower normally?
You can generally return to your normal showering routine once your tattoo has fully healed. Remember, everyone's healing process may vary, so it's essential to listen to your body and follow the guidance of your tattoo artist.
Once your tattoo feels smooth, the colours remain vibrant, and there is no more redness or tenderness, you can consider showering normally without any specific precautions. By showering with care and following a diligent aftercare routine, you can ensure the longevity and beauty of your new tattoo.
FAQ: Can I shower an hour after getting a tattoo?
It’s recommended you wait at least 24 hours before showering after getting a new tattoo. This allows the tattooed area to begin the healing process and reduces the risk of infection.
Showering too soon after getting a tattoo may expose the open wound to bacteria and increase the chances of complications. It's important to follow the specific instructions given by your tattoo artist, as they may have their own guidelines based on the size, location, and intricacy of your tattoo.
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