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Tattoo Aftercare and Healing Instructions

How you take care of your tattoo in the weeks after your appointment plays a role in how bright and solid your tattoo will heal. It typically takes 2 to 3 weeks for the outer layer of skin to heal and can take as long as 6 months for the skin below the surface to fully repair itself. I use a variety of bandages, tapes and ointments depending on the needs of each client.


Tattooer applying clear adhesive barrier bandage to fresh tattoo.
Adhesive tattoo bandage application.

You may have heard these types of bandages referred to as their brand names like "Second Skin" or "Saniderm" (I use Dermor). These waterproof, breathable films all work essentially the same and make the healing process easier and quicker.

  • Leave the clear bandage on for 3-5 days if possible, but no longer than 7 days.

  • There is no need to wash or apply lotion to area until you remove the bandage.

  • Ink sacks (fluid trapped underneath the bandage) are nothing to be worried about. Fluid drainage is a natural bodily response from an inflamed wound - like a tattoo.

  • Do not poke holes in the bandage or drain it. If the bandage becomes uncomfortable or unsightly, remove the bandage.

  • To remove, slowly pull the corner downward in small increments. Using warm water and soap may help release the adhesive.

  • Moisturize your tattoo with an unscented lotion until fully healed.

  • Don't pick at flaky skin.

  • Avoid suntanning, swimming or submerging your tattoo for at least two weeks.

*Allergic reactions to this adhesive bandage are rare, but if you are experiencing redness or skin irritation - remove it immediately & wash with a mild liquid antibacterial soap.



Tattooer wrapping coflex around pad bandage to protect fresh tattoo.
Pad bandage and Coflex wrap application.

  • Remove bandage the next day.

  • Wash tattoo thoroughly with clean hands.

  • Keep tattoo clean while healing.

  • Moisturize your tattoo with a thin layer of Aquaphor several times per day for the first week then switch to an unscented lotion until fully healed.

  • Don't pick at flaky skin.

  • Avoid suntanning, swimming or submerging your tattoo for at least two weeks.



  • Hydrate: Continue to stay hydrated after your tattoo is completed. Fully hydrated skin can repair itself more effectively.

  • Linens: To reduce the chance of getting an infection, make sure your bedding and towels are clean, especially if you have pets because their dander can carry bacteria.

  • Take it Easy: Avoid working out several days after your tattoo, especially if the tattooed area will be heavily affected by movement. Both pad and clear adhesive bandages can become less effective with excessive movement and some of the most common germs found in gyms are staph and MRSA.

  • Soaps and Moisturizers: I recommend using unscented lotions and gentle soaps. Cetaphil and Lubriderm are good options but always use what works best for your skin.

Everyone's skin heals differently, please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns about these tattoo aftercare and healing instructions.


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