Every tattoo and piercing shop has their preferred method of aftercare. The guidelines on this page are not written in stone – if a particular product is not working for you or causing you problems, switch to something that works for your body. Remember, your body is doing the actual healing, not the cleaning products – you’re simply providing a stress free, clean environment so that you heal without complication.
- Leave the bandage on for a minimum of 4 hours to overnight.
- After the elapsed time period, gently remove the bandage. Make sure your hands are clean. If any sticking occurs, splash warm water on the bandage. Warm water will help ease the bandage off. Be careful not to rip or tear it off. This can harm your new tattoo. There will probably be dried ink and blood on the bandage. Don’t worry, this is normal.
- Once the bandage is off, wash the tattoo with warm, soapy water. Be gentle and use your hands, rather than a washcloth or a sponge. Anti-bacterial soap is best, but a low fragrance soap is also acceptable.
- Rinse by splashing warm water over the tattoo. Do not soak it or let shower spray hit it directly (this can damage or hinder the healing of your tattoo).
- Gently pat dry with a clean towel.
- Allow the new tattoo to be exposed to the air for a few hours before applying aftercare cream.
- When applying aftercare cream or moisturizer, only use a very thin coat. A number of creams can be used.
Tattoo Salve, Tattoo Goo, Vitamin E cream, Lubriderm, etc.
DO NOT USE PREPARATION-H! It is used for shrinkage, not tattoos.
- Apply aftercare cream twice a day for 1-2 weeks (amount of application will vary due to skin type).
- You do not need to re-bandage the tattoo unless you work or play in a dirty environment. If this is the case, use clean, dry gauze to cover the tattoo. DO NOT USE SARAN WRAP!! IT does not allow your tattoo to breathe.
- The tattoo will form a scab within the next day or two. This scabs will start to fall off over the next week to 2 weeks. Let the scabs fall off on their own. DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH AT THE TATTOO!!
Pulling the scabs off prematurely can pull the ink out damaging the tattoo. Once the scabs have fallen off, you may notice dry skin on and around the tattoo. This is normal, just keep moisturizing.
- For the first night, try not to sleep on your new tattoo. If needed, wear old clothes to bed. Your tattoo may be susceptible to sticking to your sheets or clothes. It is better that it sticks to you clothes rather than your sheets. If the tattoo sticks to your clothes, splash warm water on it and remove the clothing from the tattoo very gently.
- Remember, this is an open wound, so use common sense. DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH!! If the itch is getting unbearable, apply a very small amount of moisturizer.
- Stay out of pools, hot tubs, rivers, etc. until the scabs have completely fallen off. Do not let the shower spray hit your tattoo directly. The spray can blow the scabs off prematurely. It is okay if water rolls over it. Remember to pat it dry gently.
- Do not tan for at least a month. The skin over the tattoo will be especially sensitive to sunlight when the scabs fall off and your skin can burn very easily.
- For at least the first year use a 60 spf or higher sunblock when spending long periods in the sun with your new tattoo exposed.
- If touch-ups are needed, wait 3-4 weeks. Allow the skin to return to a normal state (dull finish on surface).
- If you have any questions or concerns, contact your artist or shop for further information.
- Most importantly, enjoy your new tattoo.
Your piercing was done safely, so now it’s up to you! New piercings should be handled as little as possible, except when cleaning. Less is better when healing a piercing: over-cleaning can be as bad as not cleaning at all.
Wash your piercing twice a day (morning and evening) but NOT more often. Do not touch (spin or rotate) your jewellery. Use Spectro Jel or a mild salt water solution (recipe below) to clean with and to gently remove any crust on the jewellery or on the skin.
Sea Salt: Soaking a piercing in a sea salt solution can help with healing. Dissolve 1/2 tsp of sea salt in 1 cup of warm water. Table salt can also be used. Apply once or twice a day with a cotton pad or swab, or place the glass around the piercing and soak. Rinse with clean water when done. Be aware, salt solution can dry the skin if used too frequently, so don’t over do it. Rule of thumb: the salt solution should be as salty as your tears, no more.
Do not use rubbing alcohol, peroxide, bactine or other harsh cleansers. Apply salt-water or soap with a q-tip and rinse with water. Stay out of pools and hot-tubs etc for at least 2 weeks, to avoid bacterial infections.
Trouble Shooting: Do NOT remove your jewellery too soon: Healing times vary from person to person and depending on the piercing. Avoid handling the piercing without washing your hands. Tight waist bands and belts can cause problems for navel rings. Don’t be too rough with your piercing too soon. For most piercings healing time can vary from 3 to 6 months, often longer.
Is this infected? Slight redness the 1st few days is normal. Small amounts of clear/white discharge for up to 3 months is also normal. Swelling, yellow or green discharge can indicate infection. DO NOT REMOVE jewellery during an infection as bacteria can remain trapped under the skin.
Contact your piercer if think you have an infection. Consult a family physician if the problem does not improve within 24 hours.
Is this rejecting? Remember, all piercings can reject, but some easier then others. Rejection is usually painless. The jewellery is slowly forced to the surface of the skin, eventually coming out. Not all bodies will accept the piercing you selected. Should your piercing begin to reject, consult your piercer.
Oh no, my piercing came out too soon!
Don’t panic! If you’ve removed your jewellery (deliberately or by accident) before your piercing has fully healed, you’ve likely just discovered that you can’t get it back in easily. It’s not unusual for people to get their jewellery in half way, or 3/4 way in before coming to a dead stop. Please don’t spend half an hour or more trying to shove it back in, as you’ll only end up injuring yourself or cause the hole to swell shut, which will make any future attempts even more painful or futile. Our advice is to seek professional help — if you’re able to make it back in to Nighthawk Tattoo to see Mark, try not to wait too long. Even after a day or two a young piercing may start to heal over. If the jewellery has come out over the weekend or during a time when our piercer is away, please seek out a reputable shop in your area to get assistance. A professional piercer has the tools and the experience to safely and cleanly re-insert your jewellery, or advise you of your options if the jewellery can no longer go back in. Keep in mind, your piercer will do everything they can to help, but sometimes it might be too late and you may have to pay to have the piercing eventually redone all over again.
Our best piece of advice: Take care of and be careful with your brand new piercing. Follow the aftercare advice your piercer has given you (and ignore that friend who is telling you it can be switched in two weeks!) Avoid situations where your piercing is getting caught or injured from clothing or the environment around you. A few simple, mindful precautions early in your new piercing’s life will go a long way towards giving you a happy, well healed body piercing for years afterwards.