I Just Got a New Tattoo—When Can I Go Swimming and Get My Tattoo Wet?

 
Posted by:Zeshan
A decent tattoo can cost a fair amount of money, even up to thousands of dollars if you have a large piece that's done over the course of several sittings.
Because of the investment you've made, taking care of your piece of art is crucial. One part of this is making sure you do not go swimming or soak your new tattoo in water for at least two weeks and up to four weeks, depending on the rate that your tattoo heals.
During the weeks immediately after getting your new tattoo, you should consider it an open wound that needs to heal and seal itself. While your new tattoo is healing, it's your responsibility to protect it, keep it away from potential infection, and keep it from getting wet (aside from when you're cleaning it or showering).

When Can My New Tattoo Get Wet?

There is a big difference between getting your tattoo wet and entirely submerging or soaking your fresh wound in still water. This even applies to swimming pools, in particular those with chlorine and other chemicals which could be painful and damaging to an open wound.
You can get your tattoo wet in the following circumstances:
  • While you are washing your tattoo.
  • During your normal showering routine.
  • In the accidental case your tattoo is rained on or splashed.
However, if you do allow your tattoo to get wet, make sure the water is clean and that you let the water run over the tattoo gently. Let your tattoo air dry—do not use a towel to dry it because that can cause fluff particles to be left in the wound and potentially lead to infection. Always use clean running water to wash your tattoo.
Dot tattoo. Fly and moth tattoo

I Have to Wash My New Tattoo, Is That Okay?

In general, you should not soak or submerge your tattoo in water for between two to four weeks depending on the recommendation of your tattoo artist and how your body heals. [Note: four weeks (and possibly more) is an extended estimate of time for situations where you have a poorly healing tattoo, generally two to thee weeks time is sufficient].
During the first stages of healing, water can run over the tattoo during your usual showering routine and while washing your new tattoo, but you cannot immerse it in water. This is to help the healing process, and to prevent infection from penetrating your healing tattoo. Fresh open wounds require clean air and time to dry out naturally.
As your new tattoo heals, the topmost layer of skin will dry out and begin to flake and crumble off. It might also form scabs. It is critical to keep your new tattoo dry throughout this process, because if you don’t, the scabs might fall off prematurely. Also, don't pick your scabs!
Once every scab or dry piece of skin has fallen off, and any raw, exposed skin is sealed off by a new layer of skin growing across it, then you can get your tattoo wet. This can take up to four weeks. Be conscious and keep your tattoo from ripping or tearing, since that could allow bacteria in.
I highly recommend the Premium Aftershock Tattoo Box set as it provides all the products you will need over your tattoos entire life time. The anti-bacterial wash is ideal for situations where a tattoo needs to be cleaned thoroughly. Considering the money spent on a tattoo, the products you invest in will assist its vibrancy and keep the skin fresh.

Why Can't My Tattoo Get Wet?

Your tattoo is an open wound and standing water (e.g. bathwater) is not bacteria-free. Imagine the grime from your feet floating up to your new tattoo wound and penetrating the fragile outer layer. It's not a pretty picture, and neither is an infection.
That said, extremely short periods under water should not damage your healing tattoo. If it is soaked in water for a fair amount of time, you'll need to let it dry as much as possible. Potentially, some scabs may begin to prematurely lift if they get too wet. This can and most likely will result in some loss of ink.
But the best way to prevent tattoo damage and infection is to just stay out of the water!

I Have to Go Swimming with a New Tattoo—What Do I Do?

Honestly, you should really try to reschedule your swimming training, trips to the beach, and Jacuzzi sessions. Plan your tattoo appointment around your extracurricular activities and get your tattoo at a time when you can manage to stay out of the water for a few weeks.
Unfortunately, life does happen and sometimes we cannot avoid certain events occurring. If for whatever reason your tattoo has gotten wet or needs to be submerged in water, the only thing you can do is avoid letting water touch the tattoo itself.
To prevent water from touching your tattoo if you absolutely must submerge it:
  • Wrap a waterproof material such as plastic tightly around the tattoo. Try to seal out the water as much as possible. (Anyone who has ever tried to do this before knows it is impossible to do 100%, but at least it will limit the amount of water touching the new tattoo).
  • Once you have completed your time in the water, you need to wash your tattoo promptly with an antibacterial wash and clean water to remove any infection-causing bacteria.
  • Keep your tattoo wrapped for the shortest length of time possible.
  • Pat dry with a clean, non-fluffy towel to remove any excess water. Better yet, let the tattoo air dry.

I Accidentally Got My Tattoo Wet. What Do I Do?

If you've inherited a klutz gene like me, you might have 'accidently' and let your tattoo dip below the water line. Things happen.
So if your tattoo does get wet, wash and promptly let it air dry. You could also pat it dry with a non-fluffy towel or cloth, and then let it air dry for quick results.
If your tattoo came in contact with dirty water, you will need to wash your tattoo with anti bacterial tattoo wash and then let it dry.

Stages of Tattoo Healing

In the first few weeks following your tattoo appointment, your tattoo will go through various stages of the healing process. While it's healing it will form thin, dry, crackly skin, and some scabs which will eventually flake off.
As it is healing, you should wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap and warm running water during your typical showering routine but avoid soaking it.

Timeline for Post-Procedure Care:

  • The new tattoo is wrapped by the tattoo artist for the journey home.
  • After waiting at least two hours and no more than four (depending on your artist's recommendation), you can wash off the plasma, blood, and extra ink on your tattoo. Do not use a cloth. Only use your hands.
  • Allow your tattoo to air dry in a clean environment.
  • Apply small amount of tattoo aftercare cream.
  • Over time, dry, flaky skin or scabs will form on the tattoo surface. Do not scratch or pick off the healing skin or scabs. You should allow scabs to naturally fall or flake off when they have completely dried and the skin has healed underneath.
  • Continue to moisturise with approved tattoo aftercare cream.

It's Worth Taking the Effort to Avoid Infection

Besides potentially damaging your new tattoo design, infection can cause a lot more damage to your actual limb in extreme circumstances. But they do happen.
Good luck with your scabs, your healing, and your freaking awesome tattoo!

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