After you get inked, can you get your new tattoo wet? Well, it depends on what you mean by wet. If you want to know how to shower with a new tattoo, you’re in the right place. We also wrote about how to swim with a new tattoo.
Let’s start with how soon you can shower after a tattoo. Bang Bang would tell you to wait at least four hours after getting a new tattoo. However, please don’t take a bath with it. (More on that in a minute).
How to shower with a new tattoo wrapped in a bandage
The inked skin is sensitive to the touch because it’s basically an open wound. If at all possible, protect it from getting hit directly with water. Instead, wrap it in a waterproof bandage and you won’t have to worry about anything else. Let’s use the example of the waterproof dressing below:
Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage
Showering with a Saniderm tattoo dressing is the best way to bathe with a new tattoo. It protects the tattoo from getting wet which keeps the ink from fading and the skin from getting infected. Moreover, it’s not at all painful. If you put the bandage on properly, you can leave it in place for a few days. That saves a lot of time and effort because you’re not constantly having to wash and moisturize the tattoo.
Here’s how to use a Saniderm transparent dressing:
First, wash your hands and dry them with a clean paper towel. Reusing the same cloth towel raises the risk of cross-contamination and infection even if you’re only using it on your hands and not the tattoo (1).
Second, sanitize a pair of scissors with rubbing alcohol and prepare the bandage by cutting it to the right size. (Or you can purchase pre-cut bandages for small tattoos). Leave the backing in place for now. Also, leave about an inch of extra bandage beyond the borders of the tattoo so you get a nice, tight seal against the skin when you apply it.
Third, gently wash your new tattoo with fragrance-free soap or antibacterial soap. Use lukewarm water, not hot. It’s okay to use your clean fingers to carefully remove dried blood, but don’t pick anything. Instead of holding your skin under the faucet or submerging the tattoo, use a hand to channel water over the ink.
Fourth, use a clean paper towel to dry the skin and your hands. Let it air out for a couple of minutes so that moisture doesn’t get trapped under the bandage.
Fifth, peel-off part of the backing and press the dressing onto the skin over the tattoo. Remember to leave about an inch of extra bandage beyond the edge of the ink. Slowly peel off the backing and press down until the whole tattoo is covered. There may be a few bubbles and you can try to gently flatten those, but it’s not crucial. What’s important is that the edges are flat against the skin and no air or water can get underneath.
Now, you can relax and take a nice long shower.
The bandage can stay in place for up to a week if it doesn’t fill up with blood, ink, and secretions. What usually happens is that the tattoo leaks liquid for the first forty-eight hours, so you’ll probably have to replace the bandage after the first day or two. But then the next bandage can stay put for three or four more days. This is a method called wet healing and it’s the same idea as putting a Band-Aid on a cut. The skin recovers faster this way.
As the bandage brand points out, this is a medical-grade adhesive dressing that’s perfect for healing a new tattoo. It protects the ink from damage, reduces peeling, keeps the ink vibrant, and prevents infection. In our opinion, it’s totally worth the expense – and it’s more affordable than specialty options like SecondSkin.
Fortunately, the breathable bandage is latex-free and made from ethically-sourced materials. Unlike plastic wrap, it allows oxygen to reach the skin and accelerate healing.
How to shower with a new tattoo on an arm
What happens if you have a sleeve tattoo and want to shower? It’s easy if you wrap it in a waterproof dressing like the one above. (Scroll up to see all the details about how to use a waterproof bandage for a new tattoo).
Since you need to wash the tattoo to keep it clean and prevent infection, there’s no problem if you shower with it. However, don’t hold it under running water for very long. If you can, turn down the water pressure to the gentlest setting.
Use lukewarm water instead of hot and keep the shower short. Most of all, use a fragrance-free, mild soap to prevent irritating the skin. There’s no need for a washcloth or scrubby, either. Here are two examples of tattoo aftercare soaps:
Vanicream Gentle Body Wash for Sensitive Skin
Although it’s not specifically a tattoo aftercare product, this mild body wash comes highly recommended by collectors and artists alike. It’s designed to care for sensitive skin like psoriasis and eczema, so it’s also perfect for cleaning open wounds like a tattoo. Although it’s not antibacterial, it provides a satisfying lather and rinses clean with minimal effort.
The award-winning formula is free of all sorts of potential irritants like dyes, fragrances, parabens, lanolin, and formaldehyde releasers. Also, it doesn’t contain alcohol, sulfates, or cocamidopropyl betaine.
PROVON Antimicrobial Lotion Soap PCMX
If you’re worried about getting a new tattoo infected, try this hospital-grade antibacterial soap. It’s available in small, medium, and large sizes as it can be used for regular bathing and wound care.
The formula features a proven antimicrobial agent called PCMX. It’s what hospitals and nursing homes use on patients and what doctors and nurses wash with, too. It’s non-drying and fortified with conditioning ingredients like vitamin E and aloe (2).
How to shower with a neck tattoo
If you have a neck tattoo, can you shower with it? Of course you can, but things start to get a little more complicated if you can’t bandage at first. It’s one thing to find fragrance-free soap, but way harder to find fragrance-free shampoo and conditioner. In our experience, regular shampoo stings like a mother when it hits an open wound, so it’s going to be challenging to wash your hair and protect your neck tattoo at the same time.
Here’s what we recommend. If possible, cover the new tattoo with a waterproof dressing like 3M Tegaderm, Saniderm, or SecondSkin. Then it’s clear sailing.
Otherwise, see if you can wash your hair separately with your head hanging down in the sink or skip shampooing for the first couple of days. In other words, don’t wash your hair at all or wash it with water only, but be sure to clean the tattoo all the same.
If you’re not using a waterproof bandage, be sure to apply tattoo balm or moisturizer after drying off.
Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Aftercare Tattoo Balm
Hustle Butter is one of our favorite aftercare products. It’s petroleum-free and packed with natural ingredients. That’s not surprising as it was created by a tattoo artist. It doubles as lubricant during the tattooing process and brightens up older ink, too.
The cruelty-free formula keeps the skin hydrated while soothing inflammation and itching. Two of the main ingredients are aloe butter and shea butter which are excellent moisturizers for sensitive skin.
Even though it’s free of artificial fragrances, the balm has an appealing natural scent from the botanicals in it. Reviewers say that it absorbs nicely and doesn’t feel as greasy as Aquaphor or A+D.
How to shower with a chest tattoo
It’s easier to shower with a chest tattoo than a neck tattoo. Not only is it more straightforward to bandage, it’s simpler to protect from high-pressure streams of water and haircare products. All the same, if you’re not wet healing with a waterproof dressing, be sure to moisturize after your shower.
After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion
Some old-timers put Vaseline or Aquaphor on their new tattoos before showering with them since these greasy products repel water. The downside is that they may clog pores and keep the tattoo from getting the oxygen it needs to heal quickly.
Skip the petroleum jelly and use a tattoo aftercare lotion instead. This one was especially formulated to take care of new tattoos and it’s used by artists around the world. You might’ve also seen it on Ink Master.
The clinically-tested formula contains no allergens or irritants like artificial fragrances. Instead, it features grape seed and jojoba oils with shea butter and other vegan ingredients. It’s safe for new tattoos, sensitive skin, and recovery from microblading and laser tattoo removal.
What happens if you take a bath with a new tattoo
If you get a new tattoo, you’re going to have to forgo that long soak in the tub for at least three weeks. The skin has got to completely heal so that there are no scabs left. If you forget yourself and accidentally take a bath, let’s talk about what might happen.
While a chlorinated pool has chemicals to kill germs, bath water does not. Any kind of standing water, whether in a tub or a lake, contains bacteria. If that bacteria gets into an open wound – like a tattoo – it will infect the skin and possibly spread into the bloodstream. Having to take antibiotics is a pain, but dying from sepsis is worse – don’t set yourself up for failure like this.
Also, soaking a new tattoo may have the reverse effect of drying out the skin and causing the ink to bubble. The ink may fade and the skin may scar.
If you absolutely must submerge your freshly tattooed body part, please wrap it in a waterproof dressing first. No, not cling wrap because it won’t seal out the water well enough and it won’t let the skin breathe.
How long after a tattoo can you shower with hot water?
As anyone who’s taken a hot shower knows, the skin looks like prunes afterward. Please don’t do that to a new tattoo. Hot water is going to hurt, anyway.
If it’s winter, crank up the heater and take a lukewarm shower to protect your new tattoo. Wait until the scabs fall off and the skin is smooth and unbroken before you take a hot shower.
How do you know when your tattoo is fully healed?
Even though the inner layer of skin might take a month or longer to heal, the surface should recover within two or three weeks. If the surface is healed, you can shower normally. They will be no scabs, skin peeling off, or breaks in the skin. Everything will look smooth and natural even if the ink looks a little dull. Within the next week or two, the ink will start to look brighter. Keep moisturizing and you’ll see that it’s true.
How to tell if a new tattoo is infected
During the first couple of days after getting inked, the skin will look red and feel tender. It will ooze ink, blood, and clear liquid. By the third day, the skin should be calming down.
But if the redness gets worse and the skin continues to feel hot or look puffy, you might have an infection. If it leaks pus or develops a rash, please see a doctor as soon as possible.
If you have a fever, chills, intense pain, or any of the above symptoms with diarrhea or vomiting, get to the emergency room.
Happily, if you take the time to clean your tattoo twice a day and apply moisturizer, or wet heal with a medical-grade bandage, these problems are very unlikely.
Stock up now on aftercare products so that you have no excuses to take good care of your new tattoo and your health:
|The best tattoo aftercare products for showering||Why we love them|
|Saniderm Tattoo Aftercare Bandage||
|Vanicream Gentle Body Wash||
|PROVON Antimicrobial Lotion Soap PCMX||
|Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Aftercare Tattoo Balm||
|After Inked Tattoo Moisturizer & Aftercare Lotion||
2. Burkemper NM. Contact dermatitis, patch testing, and allergen avoidance. Mo Med. 2015;112(4):296-300.
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