There are several things you cannot do until your new tattoo has healed. Some of these things include sun exposure, going to the gym, swimming, or even soaking your tattoo. This may put off many people who have been waiting for summer to get a body tattoo, completely forgetting that besides loose, loose clothing, summer is also beach and pool party season.
Many tattoo artists have conflicting opinions on the right time to soak your tattoo. However, they all agree that some time must pass before the tattoo can be soaked.
In this article, we’ll talk about those healing times and the potential risks of swimming after getting a tattoo. We’ll also go over the different healing stages for tattoos that can indicate when is a good time to get back in the pool.
Can you swim after getting a tattoo?
The short answer is no. Your tattoo artist will cover your tattoo with a bandage and a special waterproof bandage to prevent any sweating or soaking of the tattoo. Keeping up with your healing tattoo aftercare routine can be tricky, especially if you don’t know much about healing tattoos. Fortunately, we have written an article that will help you take care of your tattoo and dry it out.
The healing routine can be quite strict. In order to keep the tattooed wound dry and allow it to heal properly, tattoo artists and other experts advise their clients to use special ointments and other cosmetics that can help heal their wounds.
Also, only gentle showers are recommended and not baths. This is because many tattoo artists fear the risk of soaking your tattoo when it is supposed to heal. With that in mind, swimming, which most often involves submerging your whole body, could be bad for your tattoo.
The risks of swimming while your tattoo heals not only pose the risk of the tattoo healing poorly, discoloring, or crusting, it also poses risks of bacterial infection that could compromise your health as a whole.
It is important to understand that when inking your body, a needle pokes into the small outer layer of your skin. The skin is left open and exposed to potential bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause infection. Chlorine, sea salt and other materials found in pool and ocean water could potentially spread the infection.
Tattoo healing process and swimming
Small tattoos may need 3-4 weeks to heal. However, these larger and more demanding tattoos can take up to six weeks and sometimes even longer if certain complications arise. When it comes to swimming, swimming is not recommended until the correct part of the tattoo has healed.
As mentioned earlier, tattoo artists have different opinions when it comes to swimming after getting a tattoo. That is why, it is important to also follow what this article says, to consult your tattoo artist to know the right time to return to the swimming pool or the beach.
Nevertheless, we have given a small timeline of the healing process and swimming.
After 1 week
The micro-wound made by the inking needle is still fresh and you will probably still need a bandage, bandage and special ointment to take care of your tattoo. You should wash your tattoo twice a day with antimicrobial soap and other products that ensure the wound is sterilized and clean.
It is not recommended to go swimming, although you can ensure that your tattoo will not get soaked. You can still take showers while avoiding soaking your tattoo.
After 2 weeks
After two weeks, the sores will start to heal much faster, but you may also notice some scabs. Either way, the swelling and other effects of the inking process should be long gone. You may no longer need to take showers with your tattoo covered, and you can even take a gentle bath while avoiding completely submerging your tattoo.
Some tattoo artists may say that it is safe to swim now, but you should use a waterproof patch on your tattoo to prevent it from getting soaked. Some will say it’s completely safe to swim without any protection, while others will say it’s not the time yet.
We believe that light swimming sessions will be allowed, provided you are very careful with your tattooed injury.
Also read: Showering with a new tattoo: can you do it and how?
After a month
After a month up to 6 weeks, your tattoo should be completely healed. If your tattoo artist advised against swimming, it should be completely safe now. Be sure to visit the tattoo studio where you had your tattoo done to confirm with your artist that everything happened in the correct order.
After a month, you will no longer have to cover your tattoo when you go swimming. With the proper ointment, chlorine and sea salt should not affect your wound. Still, be sure to follow any aftercare instructions your tattoo artist has given you.
It’s also possible that larger tattoos take longer to heal and require a few touch-ups to feel and look original.
Read more: How long does it take for a tattoo to heal: step by step guide
What if you can’t avoid swimming after getting a tattoo?
While summer is all about beach and pool parties, not everyone swims for fun. It is also a competitive sport, which requires athletes to spend more than two hours a day in the water when preparing for a race.
Some tattoo studios are so overbooked that many people have to plan weeks and months in advance, which is why sometimes it’s impossible to skip a run, practice or competition after getting a tattoo.
In most cases, we advise you to either postpone the tattoo appointment or delay swimming. However, this isn’t always possible, so there’s no way to wait for the tattoo to fully heal before immersing yourself in the water.
What to do in this case?
Wrap your tattoo in plastic
In most cases, the plastic is waterproof and will not allow water to reach your tattoo. That’s why you can use a nylon sheet made up of plastic parts and wrap your tattoo with it to make sure it’s safe. It’s not the happiest solution, but it will protect your tattoo from crusting, darkening, or even fading.
Use waterproof patches
There are many popular waterproof patches, one of them is called Tagederm and is ideal for people who swim while having injuries, which also includes micro-injuries caused by tattooing. In this case, it’s also not the happiest solution, but if your tattoo has already healed, this should help you swim without worry.
Clean your tattoo thoroughly
If you go with little or no protection in the water, as well as when applying some of the aforementioned methods, you should still be sure to clean your tattoo of potential sea salt and chlorine to prevent infection. Chlorine can also turn your black ink gray or even brown as a result of chemical reactions. This will only leave more work for your tattoo artist to fix.
Also read: How to clean your tattoo: step by step guide
Why you shouldn’t swim with a tattoo
When swimming, our skin absorbs water, as if it were clothing. Along with the inked skin, there are small micro wounds that would allow water to penetrate, carrying chlorine, sea salt, microorganisms such as bacteria, etc.
With that in mind, there are two main reasons why you shouldn’t swim around with a freshly inked tattoo, and instead wait for it to heal.
The first reason is important because the healing process is long and goes through different stages. As the skin heals, it begins to scab over and peel off. During this process, it is important that the skin remains dry and not exposed to water. When all the remaining dead skin peels off, it should be safe to swim.
Here are additional questions about getting a tattoo and swimming afterwards.
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