New ink aftercare can be complicated and overwhelming, and when it comes to water and a new tattoo, it’s no different. In traditional aftercare for tattoos, it’s normal to get it wet through washing it and daily showering. But is it safe to get your new tattoo wet?
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Should I Stay Away From Water With A New Tattoo?
The answer to this question is both yes and no because specific circumstances for new tattoos require different rules and attention.
It is absolutely essential that you wash your new tattoo at least twice a day. This ensures that you are keeping your tattoo free from bacteria that could cause an infection. Like any wound on your skin, your tattoo requires regular washing with water.
But what about other circumstances where your tattoo may get wet?
- Baths, hot tubs, and pools should be avoided. You cannot submerge a new tattoo, so you need to avoid any bodies of water during at least the first month of healing. This includes beaches or lakes, as well.
- Avoid spas where you may need to soak your tattoo. This includes any situations where wet towels may need to sit on your tattoo, where you may be required to sit in a steam room, or where your tattoo will be submerged during an esthetician session.
- Some sweat is no problem, but excessive sweat could be a concern. Sweat is generally bacteria-free, but excessive sweating or the gathering of sweat on skin should be avoided. Be sure to wash your tattoo after any perspiration.
- Rain, rain, go away. . . from your new tattoo. Rainwater is filled with dirt, pollution, grime, and microorganisms, and could be potentially dangerous for your tattoo. If you get caught in a storm, be sure to wash your tattoo and pat it dry when you get home.
- Showers should be short and sweet or you’ll dehydrate your skin. You must also make sure that the nozzle is not directing the water onto your tattooed area. Water should be cupped and brought to your tattoo to wash it.
Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?
There are a few reasons why getting your tattoo wet could be bad news for your fresh ink.
- Bacteria and Infection: The primary reason why you need to monitor the circumstances under which your tattoo gets wet is because a healing tattoo is vulnerable to getting an infection through bacteria contamination.
Bodies of water, unclean water, and water gathering on a wounded area are all prime breeding grounds for bacteria. In fact, one man contracted sepsis from swimming with a new tattoo and he died.
- Compromising the Healing Process: As an open wound, tattoos require optimized healing conditions to ensure that the ink is not compromised. Wetting your tattoo outside of the circumstances of washing it could extend your healing time or cause additional problems to your injury.
Soaking tattoo scabs can lead to severe scab bubbling which can cause scarring, infection, or ink distortion. Chlorinated water can lead to severe burns on your new tattoo, and saltwater can cause severe dehydration.
When Is It Safe to Get My New Tattoo Wet?
It is absolutely safe to get your tattoo wet from day one when having quick showers and when cleaning your tattoo. You should wet your tattoo to clean it at least two times a day.
Here are some rules you should follow when you wash your tattoo:
- Make sure the water is cool or lukewarm and do not direct the stream of water onto your tattoo.
- Use cupped hands to wet your tattoo.
- Gently clean your tattoo with antibacterial soap, being sure to meticulously remove any product remnants or sliminess from your tattoo.
- Use cupped hands to bring water to your tattoo and be sure to wash off all the product remnants.
- Pat your tattoo dry with a paper towel or a fresh towel.
If your tattoo gets wet from rain or a little sweat, don’t panic. Be sure to give your tattoo a thorough wash afterwards, just to be safe.
For other circumstances where your tattoo may get wet, such as pools, baths, spa sessions, and the like, it is always safest to wait at least a month before you submerge your tattoo.
Caring For a New Tattoo
Proper aftercare for fresh ink includes keeping it dry, except when it needs to be washed and moisturized. Introducing your new tattoo to water under any other circumstances could compromise the healing process or lead to a whole host of other concerns.
Proper aftercare begins the moment you step out of the artist’s chair and requires different attention on each stage of its healing journey. Have a look at our article, Tattoo Aftercare Advice - How Do I Care For My Tattoo? for more tips and information.
Our Final Thoughts
Apart from washing your tattoo and your daily showers, you should not get your new tattoo wet. You should avoid situations that produce excessive perspiration as your tattoo heals, and you must not, under any circumstances, submerge a new tattoo in water. If you are ever concerned, give your tattoo a meticulous cleaning and have a chat with your tattoo shop, who can give you the best advice for your issue.