Tattoo Care

How to care for your new tattoo.

Tattoos have been considered taboo, culturally celebrated, and even a contemporary rite of passage. Although American culture has embraced tattooing for almost 100 years, the earliest-known tattoos are on the body of Otzi the Iceman, dating to around 3370–3100 BCE. Today, 70% of Americans have more than one tattoo, 20% have more than five and is now a $3 billion-per-year industry. Whether you are preparing for your first tattoo or are a seasoned tattoo canvas, its important to know not only how to select a clean tattoo shop but also how to properly care for your tattoo to prevent damage or infections. Here is an easy to follow checklist to use before and after your tattoo.

Before Your Tattoo:

  • Only use a tattoo shop where all employees are properly trained.
  • Make sure your tattoo artist wears new disposable gloves to minimize your risk of contamination. Gloves should be thrown in the trash between tattoos.
  • Check that they’re using needles from sealed containers, and that the pigment trays are new.
  • Be sure the shop has a sterilization machine and uses it to clean equipment that is too expensive to throw away.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask how the employees sterilize the counter tops, tables, and chairs. They should be using a bleach-based disinfectant. If the shop isn’t clean, get out. Blood travels and can contaminate all different types of surfaces.
  • Ask where the inks come from. Some inks might contain metals and solvents that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate.

Likewise, if the equipment used to create your tattoo is contaminated with infected blood, you can contract various bloodborne diseases — including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), hepatitis B and hepatitis C.  Research from the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases showed that out of 3,871 people studied (half with hepatitis C and half without), there was a significant association between having one or more tattoos and having hepatitis C.

After Your Tattoo:

After you’ve had your tattoo and shared the pictures to social media, don’t forget about the tattoo aftercare. Legacy Medical Sales has the products you need to keep your tattoo clean and healing properly, shop here for the basics:

Day 1

  • You’ll come home from the tattoo studio with a bandage or plastic wrap over your tattoo. After a few hours, you can remove it, ask your artist for specifics about how long to wait
  • You will notice your tattoo oozin with blood, plasma, and tattoo ink. With clean hands, wash the tattoo with warm water and a fragrance-free soap 
  • Apply a fragrance-free and alcohol-free moisturizer

Day 2 and 3

  • Wash your tattoo once or twice a day, and apply a fragrance-free and alcohol-free moisturizer
  • Monitor for signs of infection:
    • fever
    • waves of heat and cold
    • abnormal shivering
    • swelling of the tattooed area
    • pus coming out of the area
    • red lesions around the area
    • red streaking from the area
    • areas of hard, raised tissue
    • Note: If you’re sensitive to the ink your artist used, you may develop a red, itchy skin reaction at the site. According to a 2019 study red dyes are the most likely to cause an allergic reaction.

Day 4 through 6

  • You’ll probably notice some light scabbing over the tattoo. The scabs shouldn’t be as thick as the scabs you get when you cut yourself, but they’ll be raised. Don’t pick at the scabs — this can cause scarring
  • Keep washing your tattoo once or twice a day
  • Apply a fragrance-free and alcohol-free moisturizer

Day 6 through 14

  • At this point, your skin may feel very itchy. Gently rub on a fragrance-free and alcohol-free moisturizer several times a day to relieve the itch

Day 15 through 30

  • The tattooed area might still look dry and dull. Keep moisturizing until the skin looks hydrated again.

Following this easy checklist will not only keep you healthy but keep your tattoo looking fresh and well healed. Remember, when in doubt, check with your tattoo artist or physician for advice on your newly inked skin. Still not sure which products are right for you? Simply contact a sales representative at 1-800-446-7310.