Days 1-6 – In the first few days, there will be swelling and redness that reduces gradually with each day. Scabbing begins to form over the area.
Days 7-14 - Itching and flaking begins and will continue until the layers of dead skin and scabs have fallen off.
Days 15-30 - Tattoo looks fully healed but may appear slightly cloudy for a few weeks. The deeper layers of skin are still repairing, so continue to look after your tattoo.
How to care for your tattoo
A tattoo normally takes anywhere from 7-14 days to look healed, but can take up to a month depending on the type, style, size, and placement.
How long do you have to leave the bandage on?
The bandage needs to stay on for at least 2-6 hours, but you might want to clean the tattoo once you remove it. To do this, use lukewarm water and clear liquid antibacterial soap. Do NOT scrub the tattoo, and do not pour water directly on to your new tattoo. Let the water hit the area just above the tattoo, and allow to trickle over it for a few minutes. Allow the tattoo to air dry.
What to put on your new tattoo
Apply a non-scented, water-based, anti-bacterial ointment, and wash your hands before applying lotion. Moisturise your skin and keep it clean. When moisturising, use just a small amount of lotion as your tattoo and skin need to breath so that it can heal properly and quickly.
You should reapply 3-5 times daily depending on the size, location, and condition of your skin. If it looks dried out, still apply just a small amount of lotion - don’t be tempted to apply too much, more is not better!
Additionally, don’t use lanolin or petroleum-based products such as Vaseline. These are too heavy and may clog the pores, causing breakouts on the tattoo.
The first week of tattoo aftercare is the most important. Here are a few things to remember
1. Don’t pick scabs: Initially, you will probably notice that your tattoo will start to look duller and may even form a small white haze on it. You may even see some scabbing form as well - this is normal. Heavy scabbing is not normal and will need to be watched closely. Do not pick any scabbing ever as it can scar your skin and ruin the tattoo or, at the very least, will cause light spots that will need touching up.
2. Clothing: Clothing can be a big factor in your healing process as well. Try to wear loose fitting clothes to allow air to get to the tattoo.
3. The Sun: You absolutely need to keep your new tattoo out of the sun in the first weeks of the healing process. Try to keep them completely covered, but if you must expose your tattoo, apply the strongest SPF sun block that you can find.
4. Other activities: In the first few weeks avoid swimming of any type, and avoid any activity that encourages excessive sweating - saunas, steam baths, gym workouts etc.