How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?

A NEW tattoo is like an open wound, so it takes time to heal and has to be looked after carefully.

But by following a few simple steps, you can keep it clean and healthy while preserving the artwork and ensuring it heals quickly.

How long does a tattoo take to heal?

It takes between two to three weeks for the outer skin to look like it has healed.

But although it may look normal, it can take up to six months for all layers of the skin to fully heal.

The aftercare process has a big impact on this, so failing to look after your skin or picking scabs can prolong the healing process .

How can I make my tattoo heal faster?

A good skincare regime is crucial for healing your tattoo.

It is essentially an open wound and must be treated accordingly.

Here are the main things to consider:

  • Don’t re-bandage it – remove the initial bandage applied by your artist after two or three hours. This is because the ‘wound’ needs to breathe in order to repair.
  • Keep it clean but don’t submerge it in water – gently wash your tattoo once a day in mild warm water but do not submerge it in water for long periods, at least for the first two weeks.
  • Use unscented ointment – it is essential that you keep the skin around your tattoo moisturised so that it does not crack and peel. You should apply enough to keep it moisturised, not smothered in cream, once or twice a day. It is also important to use an unscented product, as the contents of some scented moisturisers can irritate the skin.
  • Protect it from the sun – exposure to the sun can fade a new tattoo, particularly a coloured tattoo. So use an SPF cream, ideally unscented, and apply it sparingly if you are venturing out into the sun.
  • Don’t’ scratch or pick at scabs – like any wound, a tattoo will itch when it is healing but it is essential that you resist the temptation to scratch! You should also avoid peeling away any dead skin, as this can cause scabs to form if you do it too soon.

Can I let my tattoo heal on its own?

Yes you can, but there are pros and cons to doing this.

Leaving the tattoo to heal in the open air without using any products is know as ‘dry healing’.

This eliminates the risk that your skin might react to the ingredients of a moisturiser, but increases the chance of irritation and itchiness that may cause you to scratch.

Do tattoos fade after healing?

Like everything else in our bodies, tattoos change over time and this means they will fade.

Most people accept this part of the aesthetic appeal, but you can get it re-inked to sharpen it up.

You can slow this fading process by looking after your tattoo and not exposing it to too much sun or friction. 

Can I shower with a new tattoo?

You can shower after removing the initial bandages, but it is advisable not to direct water at the tattoo until it is healed.

Use mild soap -preferably unscented – and only splash the area gently before patting dry with a clean towel. 

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