Wash and Treat
After you remove the initial wrap, you should gently wash your tattoo. Use lukewarm water and mild, liquid antibacterial or antimicrobial soap Generic brand antibacterial soaps are usually actually better, as they tend to be milder. Gently wash away any ointment, blood and/or plasma and completely clean the area. Do not use a washcloth or anything abrasive. Your hand is actually your best tool in this case. (If your tattoo feels slimy and slippery, you have probably been lightly oozing plasma. Try to gently remove as much of this as possible – when the plasma dries on the skin surface, it creates scabs.)
Pat (do not rub) the area firmly with a CLEAN towel or paper towel to get it completely dry. Follow with a very light application of your choice of ointment. A & D vitamin enriched ointment would be my first choice, but if you don’t have any, Bacitracin or a similar antibacterial ointment is acceptable.
NOTE: Do not use Neosporin. This is a wonderful product for cuts and scrapes, but not for tattoos. Some can have an allergic reaction to the Neosporin, which causes little red bumps. When the bumps go away, so does the ink, and you end up with a polka-dotted tattoo. I’m thinking this is not what you are looking for
Specialty Products and Lotions
If you prefer, you can also use a specialty product such as Tattoo Goo or H2Ocean. Use the products as directed and continue for 3-5 days. After that, continue to keep it clean, but you can use lotion when needed instead of ointment, to keep the skin soft. Whatever lotion you use, it should be dye and fragrance free. A lot of artists recommend “Product A” or “Product B,” accounting for why there are many opinions found from shop to shop or on the Internet.
Bathing and Showering
You can shower with a new tattoo; after all, you do want to stay clean. So yes, it’s perfectly okay to get your tattoo wet; however, you want to try and avoid “soaking” it. Submerging your tattoo in a hot bath could possibly cause serious damage, so you’ll want to avoid this activity for 2-3 weeks, but showering is perfectly fine as long as you don’t saturate your tattoo. If you get soap or shampoo on your tattoo, just remove it quickly with water.
Swimming and Hot Tubs
Swimming in a pool, fresh water or salt water should be avoided for at least 100 days; figure on 1% healing per day. Hot Tubs should be avoided as well, as they fall under the same category as soaking in a hot bath, but even more harsh.
Scabbing and Peeling
After a few days, you will notice some peeling and possibly a little scabbing. Excessive scabbing could indicate a poorly-done tattoo, but a little is sometimes normal and there is no need to panic. Apply warm “moist” compresses to the scabs for about 5 minutes 2-3 times a day to soften them and they will eventually come off on their own. (Do not apply ointment or lotion to a softened scab; just wait for it to dry) You will also start to itch, much like a sunburn when it begins to heal. Please do not pick or scratch! If the skin itches, some say slapping it will help. If it is peeling, put lotion on it. As for a little scabbing … just leave it alone. Your tattoo is almost healed and now is not the time to ruin it!
Protection from the Sun
After your tattoo is healed, from now on, you will always want to protect it from the Sun’s ultraviolet rays. Ultraviolet rays can and will fade and damage a brilliant tattoo very fast. Before spending a lot of time in excessive sunlight, protect your tattoo with a minimum 30SPF sun block. This will keep your tattoo vibrant for many years, and it will continue to be a source of great pride.