Before getting your first (or your next) tattoo, we'd recommend considering these 7 super important things to ensure you are safe, prepared and your recovery is comfortable and speedy. For a drama-free time after your tattoo, please follow this advice carefully...
1) Can I Swim After Getting a Tattoo?
Put simply, no. Your tattooist will confirm, avoid submerging your tattoo in water. Soaking can cause scabs to come off prematurely. Avoid swimming to avoid bacteria and irritants that can be found in water. No ocean, lake, pool, jacuzzi, or bathtub soaks for 2 weeks! Showers are okay… and regular daily cleaning is encouraged in fact, I recommend this be done at least three times a day.
Only recently, a man in the US died after going for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Soon after he developed a fever, chills and swelling over the tattoo site including both his legs. A day later he went to his local hospital emergency room to discover the legions on his legs had changed to a blue purplish colour and were erupting with fluid-filled blisters called bullae. The lab work showed a high level of liver enzymes that indicated a history of liver disease. Doctors found the infection was Vibrio Vulnificus, a type of bacteria present in ocean water. The man was started on a double antibiotic regimen but died soon after when his body went into septic shock. The combination of liver disease, kidney failure, and necrotic skin legions was just too much for his body.
While it’s uncommon to get such an infection after having a tattoo, (in fact Vibrio vulnificus sepsis is rare with healthy individuals) we should still consider the risks of the thousands of water-borne bacteria. This man’s chronic liver disease left his immune system susceptible which is why I address any immune deficiencies below.
2) Can I Go In The Sun After Getting a Tattoo?
Getting sunburn on your tattoo can cause some serious problems. Your tattoo is super sensitive just like a bad sunburn, so you wouldn’t want to get more sun on it. If you are going to be in the sun for extended periods of time make sure you wear loose cotton clothing to cover the tattoo. Besides the sun will only fade your ink so best keep it out of the sun altogether.
3) Get The All Clear From Your GP Before Getting a Tattoo
If your immune system is compromised and/or you suffer from any immune-inflammatory conditions or allergies check with your Doctor first and be sure to tell your tattooist.
If your immune system is compromised your body will need to work much harder to heal your tattoo, essentially a wound. Avoid being tattooed when you’re feeling run down or sick as your body will take longer to heal, the pain will seem much worse and your tattooist won’t want to listen to you moaning the whole time you're being inked.
Make your artist aware of any sensitivities or allergies before getting tattooed as many tattoo artists use latex gloves during the tattooing process, if you have an allergy to latex your tattoo artist can plan to switch to nitrile gloves. Many people have a sensitivity to certain tattoo inks, red ink is commonly a colour that people may react to due to the nickel content.
Some individuals have allergies to aftercare ingredients, ingredients such as lanolin and beeswax can cause flare-ups in the skin and it's, for this reason, we avoided using these commonly known allergens in our tattoo aftercare. They should be especially during the healing process.
4) Avoid the Gym While Your Tattoo Heals
Just for a few weeks while your tattoo heals avoid sweaty sessions at the gym. This includes any marathon runs or hikes in closed shoes after getting a foot tattoo. Working out the tattooed area can result in scabbing and poor healing. Working out will cause you to sweat which is not good for the tattoos or the healing process. Just rest and give your body a chance to heal.
5) Plan Your Wardrobe in Advance
No clingy tight clothing and especially avoid fitted synthetic fabrics as excessive rubbing can lead to scabbing and loss of ink. Try to wear loose fitted cotton clothing over the tattooed area so it breathes, and if not in public, try hanging out in your birthday suit at home just after being tattooed.
During the first few days your tattoo will “ooze” all the colours of the tattoo which will not only stain your sheets, (so don’t sleep on it) but also ruin your clothes, so make sure you don’t wear that latest designer outfit just after being freshly tattooed!
6) Plan a Health Bender Around Getting Your Tattoo
Avoid alcohol before and after. Firstly, your tattooist will refuse you if you show up tipsy but I would also go on to say, don’t drink any alcohol for a few days before or after getting a tattoo.
Alcohol thins the blood so you can end up with a bloody mess while being tattooed which will ruin your ink, even before it's done. The excess blood is going to pool over your skin and make it much more difficult for your artist to accurately tattoo.
Alcohol after being tattooed will greatly affect your body’s ability to heal and can also lead to infections. Your skin won’t be able to work effectively to heal and defend your skin while alcohol in your blood which can bring about an inflammatory response for your new tattoo.
7) Get Your Skin Ready in Advance
If you have any skin concerns, suffer from dermatitis or eczema then get those conditions under control first as tattoos can bring on an inflammatory reaction for those prone to it so its best your skin is in peak condition.