Should I Wrap My Tattoo at Night?

Written by: Pete
Updated:

When your artist wraps your new tattoo, it is given the safest and most sterile environment during its most vulnerable period. It’s normal to want to replicate that environment when you sleep, when your fresh ink could be exposed to dead skin cells and dirt in your bedsheets. But is it necessary? And is it truly the best idea for your new tattoo?

Is Wrapping My Freshly-Inked Tattoo Before Bed Necessary?

Should I Wrap My Tattoo at Night

Like all skin trauma, a tattoo is a wound that requires meticulous aftercare and attention to ensure that it does come into contact with bacteria and get an infection. During a tattoo session, your body’s immune system goes into hyper-drive, regenerating cells to reconstruct the wounded area.

Being well rested helps with your natural immune response to wound repair, and medical tests have shown that sleep disruption delays wound healing. As such, a good night’s sleep should be prime healing time for your new tattoo.

During your first 72 hours of your new ink, your wound is exceptionally vulnerable to disruptions in the healing process. As it weeps out excess blood, plasma, and ink, it is also sticky and vulnerable to dirt or microparticles coming in contact and sticking inside your wound. So what about all the skin cells, dirt, grime, and microorganisms that are in your bedsheets?

Unfortunately, a tattoo wrap is created under the most sterile of conditions, and those conditions are difficult to replicate after you’ve left the tattoo shop. By rewrapping your tattoo before bed, you risk trapping in particles that might be harmful to cell reconstruction, and you may compromise the necessary breathing that the wound requires to heal. These dangers are far more detrimental to the healing of your tattoo than sleeping with an unwrapped tattoo.

What to Keep in Mind When You Sleep With a New Tattoo

Instead of rewrapping your tattoo before you sleep, there are a few things you should keep in mind in order to ensure that your new tattoo stays safe.

Avoid Sleeping on Your Freshly-Inked Tattoo

The easiest way to sleep comfortably on a new tattoo, which puts minimal pressure on your newly inked region, is to change your sleeping position accordingly. You can also use pillows to lift parts of your body to help make yourself more comfortable.

Consider your tattoo placement and then sleep on the opposite side, and if your tattoo is on an arm or a leg, use fresh rolled up towels around the region to keep it elevated and safe.

Clean Your Bed Sheets

When you get a new tattoo and for every day within the first week, you should consider changing your bedsheets. This is not only because your tattoo may weep onto the sheets and stain them, but also because used bed sheets can be home to a host of bacteria. They are full of dead skin cells, sweat, oil secretions, and mites and all of these pose a risk of infection for your brand new tattoo.

If changing your bed sheets every day sounds like an exhausting task, consider putting a fresh towel under your tattooed area, instead.

If you wake up with your tattoo stuck to the bedsheet, don’t panic. A little bit of lukewarm water will help loosen things up. Whatever you do, don’t pull the sheet from your tattoo (or the tattoo from your sheet) as you risk damaging healing skin cells.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water before bed and stay away from alcohol during the first two weeks of healing. Alcohol is a blood thinner, which prevents proper clotting of blood cells in your wounded area. In addition, you lose hydration as you sleep, which is detrimental to the healing of your tattoo.

Get a Full Night’s Rest

The best way to stop worrying about needing to rewrap your tattoo completely is to get a significant amount of sleep. For adults, eight hours is always ideal. Restful sleep helps promote natural immunity responses in the body that contribute to a faster healing time for your tattoo. The faster your wound heals, the less you need to concern yourself with “sleeping wrong” with your fresh ink.

Have a look at our complete article on How To Sleep With A New Tattoo - Your Helpful Guide.

How to Wrap Your Tattoo Before Sleeping: A Step-By-Step Guide

If we haven’t convinced you on how to safely sleep with a new tattoo, we have some step-by-step tips for rewrapping your tattoo at night. Please remember that we at Tattoo Set do not recommend rewrapping your tattoo unless it is done by a professional.

  1. Wash your hands and then carefully wash the area thoroughly with antibacterial and antiseptic soap. For careful cleaning instructions, check out, How Do I Clean My New Tattoo? - An Ink Aftercare Guide.
  2. Pat the area dry with a paper towel that does not leave any product remnants, or use a fresh towel. Do not put any ointment on your tattoo at this point unless your tattoo has had at least 72 hours to heal.
  3. Using a medical adhesive tattoo wrap such as Saniderm, rewrap your tattoo carefully. Do not unstick and try to stick the product back onto the area. If there is an issue with the application, repeat steps one to three. You can learn all about adhesive tattoo wraps in our article, What Are Tattoo Wraps And How Long Should I Keep My Tattoo Wrapped? We do not recommend any other wrapping type (gauze, cloth, etc.) if you intend to rewrap your tattoo yourself.
  4. Drink a glass of water and get a good night’s sleep.
  5. When you wake up in the morning, immediately remove your wrap, as they should not stay on for more than eight hours. Wash and dry the area thoroughly, and leave it unwrapped for the remainder of the day.

Wrapping a tattoo at night is not a necessity and may pose more problems than solutions to the healing of a new tattoo. You should not rewrap your tattoo for bed for more than three nights in a row, and after the first 72 hours, your tattoo is already significantly less vulnerable to issues when sleeping.

Our Final Thoughts

We know that sleeping with a new tattoo is a challenging venture, but rewrapping your tattoo could be dangerous. You’ll find that the more tattoos you experience, the easier night care will become. If you’re ever in doubt or need advice about sleeping with your tattoo, or about whether it is safe to rewrap your ink, don’t hesitate to reach out to your artist who will give you tips specific to your art and skin needs.

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