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Tattoo Healing Stages

Posted by Ann V. On 2016 Oct 16th

Tattoo Healing Stages

Getting a tattoo is truly the focal point of the entire tattooing procedure, but it isn’t over once you walk out of the tattoo shop. In fact, this is the beginning of your tattoo healing process that can last for about three to four weeks. Here, it’s important that you take special care of your newbie art during this time. This will help ensure its best look once the healing is done.

Continue to read and understand better the healing stages of tattoos that’ll give you a detailed idea of what to expect during and after the healing days or weeks.

Stage One

As soon as your inking process is completed, it marks the beginning of the healing process. At this stage, your tattoo is an open wound where you need to treat it accordingly. The tattoo artist will wash the inked area gently and cover it with bandage to protect it from bacteria and other infections. 

Most tat artists suggest keeping the area covered for the first twenty-four hours. However, you will likely need to change the bandage because a fresh tattoo generally bleeds and leaks little. Allowing the bandage to soak up too much fluid or blood may wind up sticking to your skin, which is definitely not good for your tattoo healing process.

A fresh tattoo is often described as feeling similar to sunburn. The newly inked area tends to be a bit wounded, it can look red and become a little inflamed or swollen. But, don’t worry. This is all a natural part of the healing. Gradually, you'll see some scabs forming over the area. Don’t attempt to peel or remove them. Hand wash the area gently once or twice a day with a very mild soap, pat it dry with a fresh paper towel and gently dab on a little amount of the moisturizing aftercare lotion recommended by your tat artist.

Although, the healing degrees of people differ greatly, the first healing stage of a tattoo usually lasts about a week as long as any infection doesn't affect it. If you feel more pain than you expected, you can take a pain reliever.

Stage Two

Usually, the second stage of healing brings the inception of itching. This is because the scabs at this point are well formed and probably begin to flake off. This process will continue for about a week. The skin around the tattoo may become a little dry. Experiencing a skin peeling, just like it happens with sunburn is quite common.

Avoid peeling or scratch your tat. Let it slough off by its own. Scratching can cause damage and ultimately spoil the look of your tattoo by the time the healing is finished. If the itching is unbearable, apply more aftercare lotion over the area to feel some relief.

This healing stage can last about one week as well.

Stage Three

Stage three is the final healing of the inked area. By this time, most or all of the scabs will fall away from your tattoo. The area may remain slightly dry and tender. Your tattoo ink may no longer look as vibrant as it did during the initial days, but this is completely natural. Typically, there is still a layer of dead skin over the tat that obscures it a bit at this time. However, once that layer sloughs away naturally, you'll see what your new tattoo really looks like. If you've managed to avoid infection and scratching, it’ll look great.

Things to Avoid While Your Tattoo Heals

  • Avoid applying petroleum based skin products on your tattoo.
  • Avoid activities like swimming. The chlorine in the pool water can leach color and dry out the tender skin around your tat.
  • Don't soak in the bathtub. This can allow bacteria to penetrate the unhealed tat wounds.
  • Do not expose your new tattoo to direct sunlight. It can lead to fading of your tat and you could easily burn the unhealed skin.
  • Avoid picking your scabs or scratching/rubbing your tat.

In general, the healing stages of tattoos can stretch over three to four weeks, and taking special care of your tattoo during this time is really essential in order to preserve the wonderful art tattoo artist has created. In case, you experience any symptoms beyond those mentioned above, contact your artist immediately. 

Although tattoo artists aren’t licensed physicians, they are very familiar with the signs and symptoms of normal healing versus the signs of a burgeoning infection. In case of any infection, your tat artist will give directions about how to care for the area topically, and the cautions to take. He or she may suggest you to visit your doctor if the situation warrants it.

Happy Tattooing!!!