How Soon Can You Go Swimming After Getting A New Tattoo?

Written by: Claudia

You just got a new tattoo and you’re excited to show it off. What better way than by the poolside or on the beach. But did you know that submerging your ink is the number one enemy of new tattoos?

Have a look at our complete know-how guide to get a thorough understanding of new tattoo safety when it comes to swimming.

Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?

This isn’t completely true. You can certainly get your tattoo wet while showering very carefully, and it’s quite certain that your tattoo will come in contact with sweat, but submerging your tattoo in water is where the concern lies.

Your tattoo is essentially an open wound, and there are a few issues that can arise from submerging your tattoo:

  • Bodies of water, including baths or swimming pools, hold on to bacteria which can, in turn, cause a serious infection for your new tattoo.
  • Chlorine in pools can cause burns or irritations to open wounds such as a new tattoo.
  • When in water, your tattoo is unable to breathe and heal properly, or water can enter through the wound, causing distortion, scar bubbling, or ink loss.
  • Saltwater can severely dehydrate your wound, which prolongs your healing and leads to irritation or inflammation.
  • A warm container of water, such as a bath or hot tub, is full of dirt and grime, and is a prime breeding ground for bacteria due to the temperature of the water.
  • Though rare, there are specific bacteria that can be found in water, such as sepsis - this flesh-eating bacteria was contracted through a new tattoo for one man in the Gulf of Mexico (we don’t recommend that you read the case if you’re squeamish).

Any contact with water for a new tattoo should be brief and should be primarily for washing it, not for recreation.

How Long After Getting a Tattoo Before You Can Go Swimming

In our opinion, it’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to swimming with a new tattoo. While some websites may suggest that it’s safe following two weeks, your tattoo has only fully healed after the four week mark.

You will know when you are ready to swim when your tattoo shows no signs of flaking, scabbing, or healing epidermis. Though this acts as a shield over your new tattoo, it is easily damaged during the first month. If contaminated water gets under this shield, it provides an optimal breeding ground for infection to grow.

If you follow a very meticulous aftercare process using high-quality products, you may notice a faster healing time. We believe it is safe to go swimming when you are at the milk scab stage.

It’s not only safer for your health to wait for your tattoo to be completely healed prior to going in a public pool, it’s also significantly safer for the health of others. If your scab should crack and bleed, you put others at risk of blood transmitted diseases.

What Happens if I Already Went Swimming With a New Tattoo?

If you’re reading this article because you already dove in with a new tattoo, don’t panic. Continue to wash and care for your tattoo as usual, and keep a close eye on your ink.

You should speak to a medical professional if you notice any of the following:

  • Excessive redness or swelling after the first week
  • The tattoo is more tender or painful than usual after week one
  • Skin that feels hot to the touch
  • Tattoo bubbling which could scar or damage your tattoo
  • A bright red outline around the tattoo which doesn’t diminish; it could be the sign of infection
  • Pus coming out of your tattoo after day four, that can be smelly
  • Rashes or blisters
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever or chills

Can You Swim in Pools After Getting a New Tattoo?

You absolutely should not swim in pools after getting a new tattoo. Private and public swimming pools, regardless of the chlorine content, still harbor many microscopic bacteria that could infect your new tattoo. In addition, the chemicals used to keep pools clean may cause burning or severe irritation to your new tattoo.

Submerging your new tattoo is a terrible idea as it could cause distortion to your art, blistering or bubbling of your scabs, and could prolong the healing time.

Can You Swim in the Sea With a New Tattoo?

No, you should not swim in the ocean or the sea with a new tattoo. The dangers of submersion still apply, and you have the added risk of irritation or dehydration due to the salt content. In addition, outdoor bodies of water may have microscopic bacteria that could result in even more terrifying and dangerous infections due to entering your bloodstream via your open wound - your new tattoo.

If you are an individual who likes to get a tattoo to commemorate a vacation or holiday, consider booking your session near the end of the trip so you don’t risk the temptation of swimming with it.

Can You Take a Bath With a New Tattoo?

You should not take a bath with a new tattoo. Not only will you be sitting in your own dirt and germs, but the temperature makes it a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Hot tubs should also be avoided as it’s similar to sharing bathwater with others.

Can You Shower With a New Tattoo?

Absolutely! You should not put your life on hold and neglect your hygiene just because you have a new tattoo. There are safe ways to shower with a tattoo, and a tattoo can get wet if the intention is to clean or wash it.

Our Final Thoughts

If you’re really dying to get back into a pool, you can ask your tattoo artist for their own suggestion as to when your ink is ready to face being submerged. They will know what timeline is best for your skin and their work.

If swimming can be avoided, we recommend giving yourself the full month to heal your new tattoo so you don’t put your art and your health at risk.

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