How To Protect A New Tattoo When Swimming?

If you’ve got a new tattoo, chances are you have heard that water is a big enemy to young ink. It not only deforms and fades the ink but also irritates and infects the tattoo area, resulting in a degraded tattoo and lousy health. 

Then it makes sense to keep your new drawing away from water. Still, if you really want to submerge yourself in water, there are ways to reduce the effects. Stay with us to know when you can swim after getting a tattoo and how to protect a new tattoo when swimming.

How To Protect A New Tattoo When Swimming?

What Happens If I Swim With A New Tattoo?

Basically, a fresh tattoo is an open wound. Any wound is vulnerable and needs to be clean and dry to heal. Meanwhile, swimming water often contains many potential bacteria that can risk your body art and your health through an infection. 

Typically, there are three types of swimming water: freshwater from a river and lake, salty water from the ocean, and chlorinated from the pool. While natural sources like fresh water and salty water contain plenty of bacteria, chlorine may reduce it in the pool. Still, unfortunately, chlorine itself can irritate a healing tattoo and fade the ink.

Spreading redness can be a sign of tattoo irritation

Thus, below are what can happen if you go swimming with new ink. 

  • Risk of tattoo degradation: Chlorine and salt can leach ink from a tattoo, especially a fresh one, and fade the color, resulting in less vibrant colors and blurred lines.
  • Risk of irritation: Chlorine and other chemicals can lead the tattoo to sting and pain, plus inflammation, resulting in a red itchy rash going with blistering, crusting, and swelling.
  • Risk of infection: Fresh ink quickly gets an infection when submerging in water containing harmful bacteria as an open wound. The infection level varies due to specific water and tattoo conditions. 

Also, different water sources offer different effects on the ink, in which salty water from the ocean typically harms young tattoos the most. For example, there was a situation when a man contracted Vibrio vulnificus when swam with fresh ink.

Besides the Vibrio Vulnificus case, ocean water tends to leave scars on the etching, particularly to amateur tattoos etched to different depths. And, of course, you don’t want to possess a weird drawing far from your initial imagination. Hence, be double cautious if you are planning on swimming in salty water.

How To Protect A New Tattoo When Swimming?

For the sake of your health and also the appearance of something that would go with you for an extended period, it is worth waiting until the tattoo is completely healed. Still, if you genuinely need or want to go swimming, here are the steps to protect your brand new ink from being damaged.

  • Before swimming: Tightly cover the tattoo with water-resistant materials such as a waterproof bandage or a plastic wrap. You can apply ointments to the inked area to separate the ink from water.
  • During swimming: Avoid staying for too long in the water. It not only lowers the risk of wetting the tattoo but also is helpful with the healing process. This is because keeping a tattoo-covered can restrain the ink from healing.
  • Post-swimming: Remove the cover right after you finish, clean it with warm water and mild soap, then take a clean paper towel to absorb the water and apply a proper lotion to the area.

[alert-announce]Notes: There is almost no way to fully waterproof a new tattoo. All the solutions mentioned above will help you reduce the effects of water partly but not wholly.[/alert-announce]

What If You Already Went Swimming Without Any Protection?

If you already went to the pool without any precautions for your fresh ink, don’t worry! It is never too late to act for your health and body art. Here are some notes for you to refer to.

First, always keep an eye on your tattoo to notice right away if something happens. Once you long-expose your young tattoo to the water, irritation, and infection are two common problems that are going to happen. Next: 

  • Visit your tattoo artist if you see any signs of tattoo damage, such as bubbling, fading color, and long-lasting redness and stinging. 
  • See a doctor once you notice cues of infection such as inflammation, spreading out redness from the ink area, developing sores, worsening pain, fever, bleeding, and smell. 

It is possible to cure an infected tattoo. A mild infection such as a small bump and rash can be reduced by antibacterial ointment, while serious problems should be treated under the doctor’s instructions.

How Long After A New Tattoo Can You Swim?

Typically, your tattoo artist would tell you to wait for 2 to 4 weeks before going to the pool. This is the average time length for a brand new ink to heal and be ready for a safe swim. 

Still, the time length varies from person to person, depending on various aspects discussed in the section below. 

How Long After Tattoo Can You Swim To Protect A New Tattoo?

How Do I Know My Tattoo Is Healed?

Tattoo healing times change among individuals, depending on the size and position of the ink, the medical properties of the owner, and even the depth of the etching. Here are the signs that can tell you that a tattoo is healed and allows you to swim.


Typically, it will take 2 to 4 weeks for the visible part to heal and months for the inner part to restore completely. Once the surface is healed, you can go swimming without bothering too much. 

This metric mainly depends on the size of the ink. For instance, a small etching can grow a new skin layer after one week, while a vast tattoo may take up to 2 months to skinning over.


Once your tattoo stops peeling and scabbing, this is a good sign that it is restored. The peeling and scabbing work on discarding damaging stuff from the etching process, then fixes the ink under the new epidermis, thus allowing the tattoo to be stable and withstand external effects.

Signs of tattoo peeling

Also, during these processes, the skin often develops itching to skinning over. Therefore, once you notice no or minor itching, chances are these processes are about to finish.


A new tattoo comes with pain and gradually reduces this feeling along the healing process. Once you no longer feel the pain seriously, typically after 2 to 4 weeks, this is a cue that the healing process has been in good progress, and your etching is cured.


In a nutshell, you shouldn’t go swimming with fresh ink for art and health purposes. A tattoo is something going with you for a long journey and worth your time waiting until fully healed.

Still, if you decide to submerge yourself in the water for whatever reason, follow our instructions on how to protect a new tattoo when swimming. Cover the tattoo to waterproof it as well as possible before getting into the water, then carefully clean and nurture it post-swim.

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