Tattoo Aftercare

Tattoo Aftercare

Tattoo aftercare methods can vary from person to person.  We have presented the two approaches we recommend below.  Should you experience anything out of the ordinary while healing your tattoo, please stop in.

717 Tattoo Printable InstructionsClick for a Printable Version

Method 1 – Open healing

Remove the bandage after 3 hours, but no more than 12.

Don’t remove the bandage until you can properly clean the tattoo with mild antibacterial soap & warm water.

Rinse it well, sloughing off as much of the slimy coating that may have formed over the tattooed area while underneath the bandage.

Gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, then allow it to air-dry for 15 minutes before applying ointment.

Apply A&D ointment or a specialty tattoo-healing product to the tattoo only as directed, massaging a very small amount into the skin to keep the tattoo slightly moist, but NOT smothered.

Use just enough ointment to make the tattoo slightly shiny, & blot off any excess.

For the first day or two, your tattoo may require more cleaning or blotting, as the traumatized skin will still be losing a small amount of fluid.

Ensure that extra moisture doesn’t get trapped under the ointment, by blotting & air-drying after each washing. It is important to let the tattoo breathe.

The healing tattoo should never stay submerged in water. Therefore, limit yourself to only short showers until the tattoo has finished peeling.

It’s also important that a fresh tattoo be protected from the sun & dirty environments, as it’s still an open wound at this time.
All normal activities involving water or sun exposure can usually be resumed after 10-14 days.

Only apply ointment for as long as it takes for your tattoo to peel, usually 3-7 days.

When the peeling begins, the tattooed skin will flake like sunburn. At all costs avoid picking at the cracked & flaking skin.

When the tattoo has fully entered the peeling phase you should NOT apply any more ointment. The area will become dry & itchy.

A good quality, fragrance-free lotion or a specialty tattoo-lotion product can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.


If bubbles form on the surface of the fresh tattoo, stop applying ointment, let it dry & peel on its own.

This bubbling is caused by moisture getting trapped in your tattoo, usually from too much ointment, & could lead to scabbing.

If scabs develop, they can remove the color beneath them if prematurely removed.

It’s important that they’re allowed to dry out completely, & not get waterlogged at any time.

The scab will eventually fall off on its own, & the should be fine if no deep cracks have formed.

Method 2 – Covered healing

This is the less conventional method, & tends to work well for larger tattoos, as well as tattoos in awkward areas that will be covered with clothing, as this can cause irritation.

If you find that your tattoos have healed poorly in the past, this method may be an effective alternative.

Remove your bandage after 3-12 hours, & clean it with mild soap & warm water as in Method 1.

After washing, gently pat it dry with a clean cloth or paper towel, then allow it to air-dry for 15 minutes.

When the tattoo is dry to the touch, cover it completely with a new piece of plastic wrap, using small pieces of tape as needed to hold it in place.

Do not use any healing ointment or moisturizer.

In this method, the tattoo is kept completely covered with plastic wrap 24 hours a day, for as long as it takes to peel—usually 3 to 5 days.

It’s important to wash the tattoo every 4-6 hours or after any period of sweating, letting it completely air-dry afterwards, & applying a new piece of plastic wrap each time.

It’s also important not to over-wrap the area, unnecessarily covering un-tattooed skin, which can trap excess moisture.

Use the same precautions as Method 1 regarding water & sunlight.

When the peeling begins after 3-5 days, the tattooed skin will flake like sunburn.

At all costs avoid picking at the cracked & flaking skin. When the tattoo has fully entered the peeling phase, discontinue the plastic wrap.

The area will become dry & itchy, & a good quality, fragrance-free lotion or a specialty tattoo-lotion product can now be used until the skin returns to its normal texture.


As mentioned before, moisture can be very detrimental to the healing process.

Too much plastic wrap on the surrounding un-tattooed skin—or not changing the wrap often enough—can lead to development of a moisture rash.

This will appear as bright red irritation with tiny pimples around the effected area, & will likely feel painful & itchy.

If this happens, do not re-wrap the tattoo or try to medicate it. Instead, let it dry completely & peel on its own.

Apply lotion to the area once irritation has diminished.

A combination of methods 1 & 2 is not recommended. Please only use one or the other.

Remember, until your new tattoo peels, it is an open wound, & needs to be treated as one.

Give your tattoo the time & attention it needs to properly heal.

Engaging in actions such as swimming, tanning, removing the bandage early, & general disregard are done at your own risk.

If you suspect an infection has developed, please stop in immediately, as untreated tattoo infections can have very serious consequences.

Please feel free to contact us with any problems at all.

Any necessary touch up is free within the first six months.  If you can stop by with your healed tattoo we would love to get a photo for our portfolios.

Feel free to email the owner directly at info (at) 717tattoo(dot)com

What to expect from your new tattoo

There are several reactions your skin may have to your new tattoo.

What follows is what is to be expected from a new tattoo. Applying a tattoo to the skin is to intentionally cause trauma to the body.
A larger tattoo will be more prone to the symptoms below than a smaller one. Also, in the event that your tattoo is on an extremity (i.e. arm or leg, especially below the knee & elbow, the symptoms may be more severe.)

This is a list of typical reactions to a fresh tattoo, although not everyone will experience all of them.  Body placement & the size of the tattoo may cause these symptoms to vary,

Here is a list of what to expect the 7 to 10 days after you’ve received your new tattoo.

  • Your new tattoo will be red, irritated, swollen, warm-to-the-touch & possibly bruised; this is all NORMAL. This will normally last 1 to 3 days.  If your tattoo is on an extremity, especially below the knee, you may experience more swelling than normal.  Ice & elevation can help to alleviate these symptoms over the first few days.
  • Some of the ink may show on the bandage or come off onto your towel after a shower, onto your clothing, & onto your bedding. This is normal, & you are not “losing the color” if you see this happening.
  • Your tattoo may have some scabbing. If this occurs, do not pick at it, let it fall off naturally, & keep the area clean & moisturized. Scabbing is the body’s natural reaction to healing a wounded area.
  • Between the 3rd & 7th day into the healing process your tattoo will begin to flake & peel. It is very important that you do not pick or scratch at it; this can damage your new tattoo, a light slap will help when itching occurs.
  • After the flaking is done the skin will look very shiny for a few weeks, & your tattoo may look “not so bright”. This again, is all part of the normal healing process.

New tattoos are susceptible to infections.  If proper hygiene & aftercare are not followed, the risk can go up. It is normal for your tattoo to be red, swollen, sore, & irritated. These symptoms are not indicative of an infection. Follow your artist’s aftercare, use common sense, keep the tattoo & the area around it clean, & you will greatly increase your chance of a properly healed tattoo.  Remember, the human body is not pre-programmed to properly heal a new tattoo.  The body will react to a tattoo as a wound.  It is your responsibility to take proper care of the tattoo.  Proper aftercare will trick the body into healing the tattoo in the best possible fashion.