Showering With a New Tattoo: Can You Do It and How?

Getting a new tattoo is a pretty exciting time, especially if it’s your first. However, in the midst of all this excitement, there comes a point in the tattoo process where you no longer think about the tattoo itself, but rather about how you are going to take care of it properly. It’s no secret that the aftercare routine, and whether you follow it correctly or not, can make or break your new tattoo.

Every tattoo artist will tell you what to do, in general. You need to keep the tattoo clean but not over cleaning, keep it moisturized but not too much… This all sounds pretty complicated and there is a lot of pressure on the whole aftercare process during the first week of healing.

But, one thing tattoo artists fail to mention without clients asking is showering and bathing with a new tattoo. They might mention a word or two about how you shouldn’t go swimming, but what about other things where you’re exposed to water, like showering and bathing?

Well, in the following paragraphs, we’ll give you all the information that your tattoo artist didn’t mention, or that you’re just curious about. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Showering After Getting a Tattoo: Everything You Need to Know

Showering After Getting a Tattoo Everything You Need to Know

Can I take a shower with a new tattoo?

The short answer is yes, you can shower with a new tattoo. Not only can you shower, but you should shower after getting a tattoo; you’re not going to walk around dirty while you’re dealing with a sensitive, open wound, are you?

But, here’s the deal. You can’t shower right away.

The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial for the rest of the healing process of your tattoo. During this period, you should not play around and expose the tattoo to water right away.

The reason for this is that the tattoo or the wound should start to close. For this to happen, the tattoo must first get rid of all excess ink, blood and plasma. After that, the tattoo may need a light wash and then it should start to dry. This should all happen within the first 24-48 hours, so be patient.

How long after a tattoo can I shower?

Your first shower after a new tattoo may be the day after the tattoo. It could be between 12 and 48 hours. Sometimes the tattoo gets messy after a night of oozing blood and ink. In order for the tattoo to start healing properly, you need to wash it lightly with antibacterial soap and warm water.

After 48 hours your tattoo should be fine for water exposure, but only once or twice a day. During the first week, it is essential not to expose the tattoo to water any longer. This will prevent the tattoo from drying out and forming a new layer of skin. In such a case, your tattoo could become infected.

To note: we also recommend that you avoid activities that cause sweating, such as sports, jogging, etc. Sweat carries bacteria that can infect the tattoo. In addition, sweating prevents the tattoo from drying out, which could also lead to infection. If you have to stick to light walks and yoga-like exercises, this will keep you active without sweating too much or raising your body temperature.

So how can I take a shower without disturbing the tattoo?

Here are some important tips to use when showering with a new tattoo;

  • Use a mild, antibacterial soap – it is essential that you use a mild, antibacterial and fragrance-free soap when showering with a tattoo or when washing the tattoo itself. Try to be gentle and don’t press or rub the tattoo. Use lukewarm water and try not to lather the soap on the very first tattoo wash.
  • Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly – if you want to take a longer shower, you can apply a very thin layer of petroleum jelly to a healing tattoo. This should protect the tattoo from water or stronger soap. When you’re done showering, be sure to remove the layer of petroleum jelly and gently wash the tattoo. Otherwise, don’t apply petroleum jelly, as it will clog the tattoo, prevent it from drying out, and could cause infection.
  • Avoid using a washcloth or loofah – now, even if we used them to clean ourselves, a washcloth or loofah is filled with all kinds of bacteria and germs. Raw, right? So, to prevent the tattoo from getting infected, avoid showering with these items. Use your hands to shower until the tattoo is completely healed. And even then, be sure to use a new, clean washcloth or loofah.
  • Avoid spraying the tattoo directly – during the shower, avoid the direct pressure of water on the tattoo. It’s best to just stand in the shower and let the water run over the tattooed area.
  • Do not shave the tattooed area – for obvious reasons, you should not shave an open wound, of which your tattoo is at the beginning. Be patient and wait for the tattoo to heal, then try to shave the area carefully.

Can I take a bath after getting a tattoo?

Well, as we mentioned, taking quick showers and not exposing the tattoo to moisture for too long is essential. It’s fine to take a shower, but soaking the tattoo, well, that’s not a good idea. So avoid immersing the tattoo in the bath until it heals completely. Excess moisture will prevent your tattoo from drying out and healing properly, which can indirectly lead to tattoo infection.

To note: The same applies to swimming. Try to avoid swimming until the tattoo has healed, so wait at least 3 weeks. Submerging the tattoo under water for a longer period of time will prevent it from healing properly and may even prolong the whole process, which could lead to infection.

How to take care of the tattoo after the shower?

Proper tattoo removal after showering is essential.

First of all, if you put Vaseline on the tattoo to protect it from water, be sure to clean it and wash the tattoo with warm water.

Once you are done showering, be sure to dry the tattoo by patting it gently with a cloth, soft towel, or even a paper towel. Avoid sudden movements, aggressive rubbing and similar actions. Be gentle and press the tattoo lightly, just to pick up any excess moisture on the skin.

Now that your tattoo is dry, it’s important to help it regain its natural moisture. You can do this by using a light, fragrance-free lotion or shea butter. It is essential to use lotion once or twice a day, especially when the tattoo begins to peel and itch. The lotion will be your savior until the tattoo heals completely.

Some of our favorite tattoo care creams and lotions aree;

  • Bepanthen diaper care ointment – this ointment is intended for the care of sensitive skin, such as tattooed skin. It is gentle and thanks to its vitamin D5 formula, it also promotes faster tattoo healing. The ointment is fragrance-free, preservative-free and dye-free.
  • La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Balm – this soothing balm will take care of your tattoo in an instant. The balm is created to soothe treated, cracked, dehydrated and dry skin. It protects the skin’s natural barrier and keeps it hydrated. The balm contains shea butter, glycerin and panthenol for good hydration and faster tattoo healing.
  • Brooklyn Grooming Tattoo Balm – this balm is specially designed for tattoo care. It is nourishing, regenerating and helps to fight swelling, peeling tattoos, irritation and itching. Indeed, the balm is composed of beeswax, sesame seed oil, shea butter and hemp seed oil. The balm promotes faster tattoo healing and keeps it hydrated after showering.

Other things to consider

  • Do not touch the tattoo without first washing your hands thoroughly.
  • Avoid sunbathing and be sure to wear high SPF sunscreen whenever your tattoo is exposed to the sun (UV rays).
  • Make sure not to pick, peel and scratch the tattoo as it heals. Picking and peeling the tattoo will prolong the natural healing process and could lead to infection (since you are transferring bacteria from your fingers and fingernails to the tattoo).
  • Avoid using harsh products on your tattoo, whether chemical or physical. For example, avoid heavy, scented lotions as well as hard towels and abrasive cloths.
  • Do not apply petroleum jelly to the tattoo during the healing process. The only time you can use Vaseline is while showering to protect the tattoo from moisture. Even then, you should thoroughly clean the tattoo of any petroleum jelly.
  • Make sure your tattoo doesn’t dry out. Try to find a balance between hydration and the natural drying of the tattoo. Going to extremes can just lead to inflammation and infection.
  • Do not go to spas, swimming pools and open waters until your tattoo is completely healed. These places can expose your tattoo to bacteria, and prolonged exposure to moisture can lead to infection.

Final Thoughts

The only time you shouldn’t shower with a new tattoo is when you just got it, and the next 12-24 hours. After this period, you just need to take a shower and clean the tattoo of all remaining ink, blood and plasma. However, you should not overdo showering and cleaning as this may prolong healing time and lead to complications.

Try to avoid swimming and bathing until the tattoo is completely healed. And that’s all. I hope you found this article useful and informative. For more information on tattoo aftercare, be sure to check out our other related articles.

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