After deciding to get a tattoo, you may notice that it takes longer than expected to heal. The healing process is divided into four stages, and the time it requires depends on the size of the tattoo, its location on your body, and your habits.
This article will discuss all those stages of tattoo healing, how long does it take for a tattoo to heal, and any indicators that your tattoo isn’t healing properly.
How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Heal: Explanation Of 4 Stages
The visible layer of skin (the area you see) usually heals in 2 to 3 weeks after receiving a tattoo. While it may appear to be healed, and you may be tempted to let off on the aftercare, the skin beneath a tattoo can take up to 6 months to fully recover.
The skin around larger tattoos takes longer to heal, and some factors, such as picking at scabs, not moisturizing, skipping SPF, or using an alcohol-based lotion, can all slow down the healing process.
The stages of tattoo healing can often be separated into four distinct stages, each requiring slightly different tattoo care.
1. First Week
Treat your tattoo as an open wound once you’ve left the shop. It will remain bandaged so you can securely return home without risking infection. Wash the area as suggested above after a few hours.
Keep your tattoo covered for the first 24 hours, except to cleanse the wound, change the bandage, and wrap as needed.
Your skin may become tanned over the first week. You may notice that your skin is slightly swollen in addition to the localized stinging. This isn’t something to be concerned about. Inflammation is a necessary part of the healing process and is your body’s natural response.
Scabs will form on top of the tattooed region. You must not pick these scabs under any circumstances. Make it a practice to wash the area twice a day by hand. All you’ll need is some ultra-gentle soap and a pot of boiling water. After drying, use an aftercare lotion or moisturizer. Your tattoo artist will be able to advise you on the best products to use.
- If the bandage adheres to your skin when you try to remove it, moisten the gauze with warm sterile water before removing it. Have a friend assist you if your tattoo is difficult to reach.
- Allowing your skin to air dry for 10 minutes after patting it dry with a towel will provide the best base for moisturizer or aftercare lotion.
2. Second Week
Itching begins in the second week of recovery. Scabs have fully grown and are even starting to peel away at this point. This flaking process usually lasts for the entire week.
Scabs can be thin and white in appearance. Other scabs may absorb some ink. When the scabs fall off, your skin will be pink and painful. To ensure that the new skin is well hydrated, apply a thin layer of moisturizer or aftercare lotion.
You’ll be warned not to peel your skin as it heals by your tattoo artist. We understand that this is easier said than done, but you will be rewarded with rapid healing if you are disciplined. Scratching the skin might ruin the appearance of your tattoo, necessitating a touch-up procedure.
- Sweating will irritate a tattoo that is scabbing and healing, so avoid all intense activities. If the itching becomes intolerable, consider using antihistamines. A cold pack of worn undergarments might also be calming.
- Scratching peeling scabs can cause your tattoo to fade too quickly. To extend the longevity of your ink, use sunscreen regularly.
3. Third Week & Onward
You’ve reached the end of the healing process. The length of time it takes to get a tattoo varies based on the size and location of the tattoo. Healing time is also affected by other factors, such as the level of detail in your tattoo and how quickly you recover.
By the third week, the scabs should be mostly gone. At this point, it’s not uncommon for your ink to appear dull. This drabness is to be expected and is nothing to be concerned about. The tattoo will eventually expose itself as your skin continues to flake away. Patience is required.
- Showers rather than baths are recommended when the ink settles. Long soaks in the tub may cause your artwork to become diluted or blurred. Continue to moisturize and avoid sun exposure if your skin is uncovered.
- Moisturizers containing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide should be avoided because they will irritate tattooed skin. Your tattoo should be bright, and your skin should be entirely healed at this point. However, the job isn’t done yet.
4. From Month 2 To 6
Itching and redness should have faded by now, and your tattoo should appear to be entirely healed, though it’s still a good idea to keep up with aftercare. Staying hydrated, wearing SPF or sun-protective clothes, and keeping the tattoo clean are important aspects of long-term tattoo care.
How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Scab?
In most circumstances, it takes 3 to 4 days for a tattoo to begin scabbing. Scabbing is an essential part of the healing process because it develops a protective layer over the tattooed skin that keeps bacteria out of the body. Scabs from tattoos last around a week.
The scabs on your new tattoo will eventually peel off, revealing newly healed flesh. When the scabs have faded, you’ll know your tattoo is healed. Tattoo scabbing that is excessive or unhealthy could indicate that your artist used the needle too deeply.
How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Peel?
The peeling of a tattoo takes 3 to 7 days, and the peeling lasts 7 to 10 days. Your tattoo should stop peeling and be healed by the end of this time.
Peeling is a natural process by which your body regenerates a new layer of healthy skin. During the peeling process, you may experience severe itching and dry, flaky skin.
To avoid opening up wounds, apply a moisturizing lotion gently to ease irritation. Do not, however, pull off any scabs or flakes.
Reasons Why Aftercare Matters For Tattoos
A tattoo is more than just a work of art or a way to express yourself. Because the artist uses a syringe to inject the ink beneath your skin, it’s also medical treatment. Any time you open your skin, you expose yourself to infection and scars.
By carefully caring for your tattoo, you may avoid these difficulties and guarantee that it heals properly. You must also take care of your new tattoo at home, in addition to seeing a licensed and reputed tattoo artist. This is a collaborative effort between you and your tattoo artist.
However, determining how to care for your tattoo might be difficult. In many states, tattoo artists are not required to provide aftercare instructions. States that do require aftercare instructions frequently allow the artist to choose which details to include.
Continue reading for a step-by-step guide on caring for your tattoo, including product recommendations and more.
How To Reduce Your Tattoo Healing Time: 7 Helpful Tips For Everyone
Everyone wants their tattoo to heal quickly, but it takes time and care, just like any other wound. There are a few things you can do to hasten your recovery.
Sunlight can fade your tattoo, and new tattoos are particularly vulnerable to the sun. Cover the tattoo with long sleeves or pants or a sunscreen-containing skincare product.
Don’t re-bandage after you take off the initial dressing
It’s important not to cover your tattoo once you remove the original bandage — the artist will usually wrap it in transparent plastic or surgical wrap — since it needs to breathe. Wrapping it can cause scabbing and poor healing due to excess moisture and a lack of air.
Clean your tattoo at least twice a day with lukewarm (not hot) and sterilized water.
Before you begin, use an antibacterial soap to clean your hands thoroughly. After that, spritz the tattoo with water, apply fragrance-free and alcohol-free soap, then either let it air dry or gently dry it with a clean paper towel.
Because your tattoo requires air to heal, it’s best to avoid using heavy creams like Vaseline unless your artist specifically recommends it. Your artist will most likely recommend applying lanolin, petroleum, and vitamins A and D in the first few days. You can use a milder, fragrance-free aftercare moisturizer or even pure coconut oil after a few days.
Don’t scratch or pick
Scabbing is a normal part of the healing process; however, picking or scratching at the scab can slow down the healing process, compromise the tattoo’s integrity, and cause scarring.
Avoid scented products
Avoid using scented lotions and soaps on your tattoo, and depending on where your tattoo is, you may want to use unscented shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. When fragrances in items come into touch with tattoo ink, they can induce a response.
Don’t make it wet
Aside from the minimal quantity of sterile water necessary to clean the tattoo, avoid getting it wet in the shower or bath for the first two weeks, and don’t swim.
Why You Should Use Lotion For New Tattoo
The use of an effective tattoo aftercare product is an important aspect of the healing process. The finest lotion for fresh tattoos will keep your skin hydrated, moisturized, soft, and smooth, reducing the time it takes to recuperate. The end effect is a fantastic tattoo design that is gleaming, distinct, and shiny.
For the first week, we recommend using a thick cream or ointment. Switch to a fragrance-free lotion whenever your skin begins to scab and peel. This aftercare lotion should be used for months to keep the new tattoo appearing fresh and colorful.
Good creams and lotions should be odorless and contain pure organic ingredients. Chemicals are used to make artificial perfumes, which can cause skin irritation in wounds. You can avoid an illness or breakout by using a fragrance-free or unscented moisturizer.
6 Signs Your Tattoo Isn’t Healing Properly
Knowing the indications that your tattoo isn’t healing properly or has become infected is crucial. The following are signs of poor healing:
- Fever or chills: If you have a fever, your tattoo may have been infected, and you should visit a doctor as soon as possible.
- Oozing fluid: Your tattoo may be infected if fluid or pus is still seeping out after 2 or 3 days. Consult a physician.
- Severe itching or hives: Itchy tattoos might also indicate an allergic reaction to the ink. An allergic reaction to a tattoo can occur immediately after the tattoo is applied or up to several years later.
- Prolonged redness: For a few days following the treatment, all tattoos will be slightly red, but if the redness persists, it means your tattoo isn’t healing properly.
- Swollen, puffy skin: The tattoo will be elevated for a few days, but the surrounding skin should not be swollen. This could be a sign if you’re allergic to ink.
- Scarring: Because your tattoo is a wound, it will scab over, but an adequately healed tattoo should not scar. Scarring can be identified by elevated, puffy skin, persistent redness, distorted colors within the tattoo, or pitted skin.
In short, within 2 to 3 weeks after receiving a fresh tattoo, the outer layer of skin should appear healed. The healing procedure, on the other hand, can take up to 6 months.
To prevent the danger of infection or other consequences, daily cleaning, ointment, or moisturizer should be continued for at least this long.