Can You Wear Clothes Over a New Tattoo?

Written by: Pete
Updated:

We often select our clothes to complement our tattoos. But with a new tattoo, we have to be mindful of what we are wearing. Fresh ink is highly sensitive and vulnerable, and different clothes could cause further irritation to our tattoo, permanently distort it, or worse, trigger an infection.

Tight Clothing And New Tattoos: Is It Dangerous?

Can You Wear Clothes Over a New Tattoo

Your new tattoo is essentially an open wound, caused by the thousands of rapid piercings done to your skin by tattoo needles. An abrasion such as this needs optimized healing conditions, especially to preserve your art which lies below.

The first three days, your tattoo goes through a process called weeping, in which excess plasma, blood, and ink are pushed out of the tattoo. This can severely stain any clothing that is touching it.

In addition, during this period and the subsequent two weeks, your tattoo needs a lot of oxygen to regenerate its cells and mend the wounded area. This will be blocked if there is tight clothing pressing up against it.

Afterward, your tattoo will begin forming scabs and may have pieces of peeling skin. These are essential to the healing of your new tattoo, and they form a protective barrier over the ink. Tight clothing could grab onto these essential pieces of skin and rip them off. This could cause your healing tattoo to bleed which completely restarts your healing process.

The re-opened wound may also lead to bacteria infiltrating the tattoo and could cause infection. Along with this, any scab or skin pieces that are ripped off by tight clothing could take ink with it, leaving you with a patchy, dull, or distorted tattoo.

Tight clothing could also trap moisture to the surface of the skin when you sweat, and this could compromise the healing environment of a new tattoo, causing scab bubbling, blistering, or infection. Moreover, your skin will be highly sensitive and irritated, and tight clothing may exasperate these problems as it rubs up against your raw tattoo.

Let Your New Tattoo Breathe

You may think tight clothing protects your new ink from dirt and grime, but it could actually compromise your tattoo or increase it’s healing time. It’s far better to wear loose-fitting and breathable clothing when you get a new tattoo.

It is especially important that your tattoo is given space to breathe during its first week, where it is going through its weeping and cell regeneration process and is in its most vulnerable state.

It may be difficult to find clothing that doesn’t touch your new tattoo if your tattoo placement is on parts of your body that are usually covered with fabric. If this is the case, choosing airy fabrics such as cotton that are a few sizes bigger than usual are ideal for the healing of your skin. Keep in mind that any ink, blood, or plasma could stain your clothes, so don’t wear your best pieces for the first week of healing.

Aftercare Tips

Along with wearing lighter, breathable, loose-fitting clothing during your first two to three weeks of healing, there are other ways that you can increase the healing time of your new tattoo and optimize its progress.

  • Keep It Clean - The number one tip for a healthy healing of your new tattoo is to meticulously clean it, at least twice a day. You should especially take care to wash, dry, and later moisturize your tattoo, after you have worn clothing over it all day. Also, you should rotate with clean clothes each day to make sure you are not introducing bacteria into your wound.
    For the most thorough cleaning guide, check out our article How Do I Clean My New Tattoo? - An Ink Aftercare Guide.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight - Clothing also helps protect your new tattoo from its number one enemy: UV rays. Keeping your tattoo covered with loose-fitting fabric creates a barrier between sunshine and your tattoo. After around week three, you can begin to introduce sunscreen into your routine.
    Check out our article Can I Put Sunscreen On My New Tattoo? - Sunblock Safety Tips For Fresh Ink.A
  • Avoid Excessive Moisture - Tight clothing blocks your sweat to your skin, creating a humid environment that is detrimental to the healing of your new tattoo. You should ease into your normal athletic routines and clean your tattoo when you sweat. In addition, you should not submerge your tattoo in water, such as pools, hot tubs, or baths, until it has healed for at least a month. Doing so will introduce it to a whole host of dangerous bacteria that can cause infection.
  • Don’t Pick the Scabs - Scabs are important to the healing of your tattoo, and picking them could not only cause bacteria to infiltrate your tattoo but may also take ink away with it, causing your tattoo to be permanently distorted. Tight clothing will rip off these essential pieces without your conscious awareness, so stay away from them for a while.
  • Go Braless - If your tattoo is around your neck, chest, back, or ribs area, you may want to consider going braless. You also can select a bra that will have minimal contact with your new tattoo. With so many options on the market these days, it doesn’t make sense to have that piece of fabric rubbing up against your wound.
    Check out our article on what to consider when wearing a bra with a new tattoo.

Our Final Thoughts

For at least the first three weeks of a new tattoo, you should consider ditching the skinny jeans and corsets and grab some loose-fitting cotton tees and mom jeans; they’re back in style, anyway!

Tight clothing is non-essential and is simply not worth the risk to a new tattoo. It compromises the healing of your fresh ink by restricting the breathing of the wound, further irritating the area, and potentially ripping off scabs and opening the injury back up to infection.

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