Each tattoo that is gotten by a person will go through a healing process that tends to be very similar. The time it takes to heal may take longer and may differ a bit but for traditional tattoos done by a tattoo machine, you will find the healing process very similar
We will start by going step-by-step through the process of your tattoo healing, so you know what to expect after you get that bad ass tattoo you had been waiting on. Keep in mind, it’s important to follow the steps and understand what is happening so you can be sure your tattoo will come out looking bright and clean like you were hoping it would.
First Stage – Soreness and Oozing
This is the stage immediately after getting your fresh and clean tattoo you’ve been waiting for. All the hard work is done, you’ve paid the artist, sat through the pain and the healing process has begun. The process of healing begins right after the tattoo has been finished. You see a new tattoo, but you are also looking a giant, open sore that needs to heal and your skin will immediately start producing plasma. The reason your skin does this is so the process of clotting and scabbing can begin.
Before you leave the shop, your artist should have cleaned up the freshly tattooed area with some antibacterial soap, put some anti-bacterial ointment on the tattoo, and put some plastic wrap or a bandage on the tattoo so you can head home.
Many artists will recommend you keep the bandage on for a time period of 12 to 24 hours. You will notice the tattoo is oozing and weeping with a mix of plasma, blood and lymphatic fluid when you take the bandage off. This isn’t a time to be concerned as it is a normal step of the process as your body is trying to heal itself.
The next thing you are going to have to do is wash the area. You must be careful during this step as you can cause your tattoo to have setbacks if you don’t do it right. Make sure to not use any washcloths or rags to wash this as you can damage the tattoo. Just use your hands to wash your tattoo during the healing process.
Use a fragrance-free soap to do this and use warm water. Be very gentle with this process as you don’t want to tear off any scabs that are starting to form. This can slow down the healing process and keep the tattoo from looking as good as it possibly could.
After you have patted your tattoo dry (do not rub), you need to put on a healing agent to help the process along. There are many tattoo aftercare ointments that work well. You can also use certain oils that have proven to be effective like coconut oil which has a great deal of healing qualities and is easier to acquire. Once more, the aftercare product you put on your tattoo will help keep airborne pathogens from getting into the wound from your tattoo and prevent infection.
You can keep your tattoo uncovered at this point as long as you make sure you are keeping it clean and you keep applying the aftercare products.
When this time comes, you may be experiencing some soreness. Some say it feels like a sunburn. It might even be warm to the touch like a sunburn but if you keep to the process, you will start to come through this. Your skin might also be red or bruised. This is normal as your skin has been exposed to trauma so trust that by you keeping it clean and medicated, the process will move forward.
You will start to notice scabbing at this point and that brings us to the next stage.
Second Stage – Tattoo Flaking and Itching
Nobody said the process of a tattoo healing was going to be easy. The itching can sometimes be hard to deal with but as with any wound, you have to go through this if you want your tattoo to look great at the end.
This might happen for around a week, but it depends on the size of the tattoo and the depth of the ink. During this week, your tattoo will be flaking and itching as the scabs are forming and falling off from the healing process.
To keep the itching and flaking at a minimum, make sure to moisturize your tattoo as much as you can remember in a day. Make sure the skin is dry before you do so because getting water stuck under that lotion can cause scabs to become soft and more susceptible to being pulled or scraped off.
In addition, toward the end of this stage, your skin might peel as well. Do not, we repeat, DO NOT pull any scabs or skin off your tattoo as you could potentially pull skin that would cause ink to be pulled out of deeper layers as well.
Third Stage – Cloudy and Dull Looking Tattoo
The third and final stage of your tattoo healing process involves your tattoo looking a bit cloudy and dull. You’ve made it all the way here and you are wondering why your tattoo is still looking a bit dull. This is the part where you just wait. Your tattoo might still have a dead layer of skin on top of it preventing it from really shining. Give it time, this layer will fall off over the next month or so. After this, your tattoo should look fresh and great and you didn’t mess anything up along the way. Congrats!
As far as your tattoo being fully healed, it may take up to 6 months. Before that it will look good after the three stages we spoke of but underneath the surface, your deeper layers are still healing. Much of this has to do with how deep the artist tattoo but for the next few months, take it easy on the spot with the tattoo.
We hope this post about the healing process helped you feel more comfortable about your new tattoo. If you have any questions, reach out because we’d love to help.