The three stages of healing
Right after a tattoo is finished, the first stage of healing begins. At this point, the tattoo can be treated as an open wound – and might feel that way too. Ask your artist about taking care of the tattoo during the first 24 hours. You need to keep it covered but change the bandage too. Be careful with hot water, and only use PH-neutral soap to wash the area gently after 24 hours.
Very soon it may feel like you have a sunburn. And it is actually quite similar: applying a tattoo will damage the outer layers of your skin. This is also why you are running the risk of skin diseases.
The tattoo can start to itch as the skin is healing, and that will continue for a week. Use (PH-neutral) aftercare lotion to keep it moist.
Stage three is the final stage. Scabs have fallen off (don’t peel!) and the ink looks lighter. You are almost done! But don’t stop looking after your skin, as it will continue to be more sensitive. Keep using PH-neutral skincare products to avoid irritation, apply moisture, and enable the skin layers to repair itself. In total, these three stages will take 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your skin type.
Avoid sunlight and swimming
Getting a tattoo will not increase your skin cancer risk in general. But, after getting your tattoo, your skin is more at risk in that area for a few weeks.
Because the outer layers of the skin are damaged, the skin is more sensitive to UV exposure from the sun and to bacteria coming in from (for example) swimming in a pool or in the sea.
It’s essential to not expose the area of the tattoo to direct sunlight for a few weeks until the skin has completely healed. Also, don’t swim during that period. And take care by keeping your skin clean and moist.
Love your art
Getting tattoos is not dangerous by itself. But for a few weeks, your skin is at high risk. So follow the steps above and you will be fine. Now the only thing left is to love your new art. Enjoy!