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What Is Involved in the Tattoo Healing Process?

A person getting a tattoo.
Woman with tattoos on her arm and back.
Gauze should be used to cover a tattoo site to reduce the likelihood of infection.
A tattoo machine.
Article Details
  • Written By: Susan Grindstaff
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 July 2014
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The tattoo healing process primarily involves keeping the area sanitary and free of infection. In many instances, the tattoo healing process can be expedited by applying ointments and washes that both reduce inflammation and disinfect the skin. Some experts advocate exposing the tattoo to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light as another way to help promote healing.

Tattoos are applied by penetrating the skin with tiny punctures, then filling the punctures with ink. Most of the time, this method requires the use of an electric gun specifically designed for this purpose. If used correctly, these guns offer a safe and efficient means of applying body art, however, this does not mean there is no risk involved. Most of the time, a tattoo healing process that is free of complication has more to do with aftercare than with the method used to apply the ink.

After applying a tattoo, a trained artist usually understands what is needed to help promote healing. He may cover the tattoo with a gauze bandage or clear plastic to help guard against infection. Most of the time, he will furnish the customer with written instructions on how to care for the tattoo as it heals. Though the instructions could vary, most will include tips on proper cleansing and medication.

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It is usually a good idea to keep fresh tattoos covered with sanitary bandages, removing only when it is time to wash and disinfect the area. During the tattoo healing process, mild disinfecting soaps should be used. Most of the time, disinfecting soaps may be all that is needed, but if the area is really painful, an anti-inflammatory ointment can be used. After washing, the area should be patted dry, because rubbing towels or napkins over the area could irritate the skin.

In most cases, if the tattoo is healing properly, some scabbing should begin to develop after about a week. Sometimes this scabbing can cause the area to itch, but it is important to avoid scratching the skin. Scratching the area could remove early scabbing and prolong the healing process. Some experts advocate exposing the skin to ultraviolet light or natural sunlight — both of which can dry the skin which typically causes scabbing to begin. In addition, sunlight is a good source of vitamin D, which is believed to help promote healing.

Even if proper methods have been used, in some cases, tattoos become infected. If areas of pus begin to develop, it is usually a sign that infection has set it. If pus or severe pain develops during the tattoo healing process, a physician should be consulted as soon as possible.

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Discuss this Article

Animandel
Post 3

I have seen some tattoos gone bad. In some cases the tattoos were done in unsanitary conditions. Believe it or not, there are people who think it is okay to do the procedure at home in the family garage.

Anyway, once you get a tattoo it is important that you clean the area regularly. Don't just put a bandage on the tattoo and leave it covered for days. As a rule, you should wash your new tattoo three to five times a day until the wound is fully healed. Also, apply moisturizer if needed.

mobilian33
Post 2

I have numerous tattoos. I have them on different parts of my body. Healing has never been a problem with my tattoos. The best thing you can do is go to a respectable tattoo artist and make sure the place is clean.

I know people who have got infections because of their tattoos, but all of them had the work done at questionable locations. Going to the right location and following the instructions for healing should almost eliminate your chance of developing an infection.

Feryll
Post 1

As the article said, sunlight might be good for the healing process following getting inked with a new tattoo, but sunlight can also damage the artwork. The bright sunlight can actually cause the tattoo to fade. Aside from a nasty infection, the last thing you want is to ruin your new tattoo after going through the pain and cost of having it put on.

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