Ecstasy shrouds your soul as you finally achieve the lifelong fantasy of getting a tattoo. You spend hours admiring your reflection, now enhanced with the ferocious stare of a dragon resting on your right arm or a butterfly fluttering its wings right below your neck. Now that you have your fresh new tattoo, you must take good care of it so that it stays fresh and eye catching for years to come. Nobody would deny that the perks of sporting a tattoo are fantastic, but the dictum of life “Nothing good comes without a fine share of burdens” is hidden under the veil of the cunning dragon! Yes, nursing a tattoo is no cake walk. Treat it like your baby, and everything will be alright. The moment you walk out of the tattoo parlour, you are the one responsible for any infections from the tattoo. Always bear in mind that a beautiful tattoo can turn into your worst nightmare if sufficient aftercare is not taken. Of course, the tattoo artist should make it a point to provide you with a set of guidelines to steer clear of any disaster. However, if he or she fails to notify you about the salient tattoo aftercare instructions, you can always resort to this article.
Image: Ben Piven@flickr
Tattoo Care Instructions
Before we get into the details, let’s understand how the tattoo machine works. The tattoo needle moves up and down from the mini-sewing machine, and penetrates the superficial and middle layer of the skin. Superficial skin abrasions occur, the level of which depends on the artist’s professionalism. Once the oozing of the fluid stops, the healing process is complete.
Let The Bandage Be
The purpose behind covering up your newly inked tattoo is to prevent bacteria from invading your wound. As we learnt in fifth grade biology, bacteria and infection thrive on open flesh. Leave the bandage on for a minimum of two hours. You might be itching to reveal your splendid tattoo to your friends, but hold your horses and be patient. However, ensure that your tattoo isn’t covered with saran wrap or any kind of plastic. This is detrimental to the piece of art, and must be removed immediately.
Wash And Treat
Wash your tattoo once you remove the bandage with lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap. Clean away any traces of blood or plasma, and avoid using washcloth so as not to aggravate the abrasions. Later, gently pat the area with a clean paper towel, and let it dry completely. Apply an ointment of your choice over the tattoo area. A&D vitamin enriched ointment, Bacitracin or a similar antibacterial ointment is acceptable. Beware of Neosporin. Never use it! Many of us develop allergic reaction to Neosporin, which leads to the formation of tiny red bumps. Once these bumps vanish, so does the ink, which will give the tattoo a polka dot look.
Showering And Swimming
Hot tubs and swimming pools aren’t prohibited. Getting your tattoo wet is permissible, but try not to soak it. Avoid saturating your tattoo in water for the first few weeks at least. If you get soap or shampoo on your tattoo, just remove it quickly with water. It is advisable to avoid swimming in pools or beaches for the first three weeks. Once it heals, you can take the plunge anytime, anywhere!
Scabbing And Peeling
Peeling and scabbing in this case is practically inevitable. There is no need to panic when there is a little of both. For about 5 minutes, every two to three times a day, apply warm moist compresses to the scabs, and they will gradually wear off. Don’t scratch! If the skin itches, slap it instead. Lotions help alleviate peeling. Clinical studies have demonstrated that wounds moistened with ointment heal faster, and produce less dry scabbing. Use lotions to keep your skin soft. However, these lotions should be dye and fragrance free.
You should be careful to protect the tattoo from the sun's ultraviolet rays. These rays are powerful enough to deteriorate a brilliant tattoo very fast. A minimum of 30SPF sun-block will protect your tattoo from fading under excessive sunlight.