T J Hal @ Foolish Pride Tattoo

10 Things NOT To Do With a Healing Tattoo

If you have never been tattooed then you may not realize what the healing process involves.

evalaflamme in Guides

It can be easy and fast and completely stress-free OR it can turn into a bit of a nightmare if you're not careful. And by careful I mean CAREFUL. You have an open wound, dude, and you better take awesome care of your new tat or things could turn ugly...quck.

What not to do
What not to do

Any decent artist will tell you what to do in regards to healing.  Most if not all give you an "aftercare" sheet (cause your brain is so blitzed after being inked if it is not written down you WILL NOT remember it) and if you follow the instructions to a tee everything will turn out fine.  But it can be a little stressful. My big problem (well, actually one of my problems - plural) is I do enjoy picking things. Books, movies, ice-cream flavors and, oh yes, skin.  Any scab represents a monumental exercise in self-restraint for me. 

What not to do
What not to do

I KNOW I am not supposed to pick or scratch or touch it all, believe me I know.  My entire family is completely grossed out by me and now even if I am just reading or relaxing I have the "skin police" aka my teenage daughter -  on my ass saying "don't pick that" every time my fingers even hover near my arm.  Thus the hiding in the bathroom. So consider this a public service announcement.  Cut your nails really short and keep your tattoo covered.  Believe me you do NOT want to see what happens to a new tattoo when it gets infected.

There are TONS of articles on healing tattoos and almost every single one contradicts the other.  I recommend you follow your artists advice if this is your first tattoo.  If you have been tattooed numerous times you have probably arrived at your own system that works for you. Whatever you do Don't Pick It  - or I'll tell my daughter on you and trust me you don't want that (and my bathroom is only big enough for one.  Sorry). Finally - if shit starts to go wrong with your tattoo call your artist FIRST and go from there.  An experienced artist should have solid advice for you.  If you have been inked by a scratcher or kitchen wizard however -  well then you might want to get googling.  I would start here:

Ask Guy Aitchison: Ask Guy 8 What Causes Bad Healing Tattoo Education
If this article doesn't convince you to only get tattooed by an experienced artist then good luck to you!  A beautiful tattoo properly healed is a joy forever.  So please - don't pick that.

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An excellent example of a well-healed (and well executed) tattoo. T J Hal @ Foolish Pride Tattoo
An excellent example of a well-healed (and well executed) tattoo. T J Hal @ Foolish Pride Tattoo


1. Don't pick or scratch it.  Seriously.  Do. Not.

2. Keep it covered in loose, clean, cotton fabric.  Might want to make it a dark color.  And maybe not your favorite piece of clothing.

3. Follow the instructions given to you by your artist EXACTLY.  You have an open wound that you paid good money for.  Now is NOT the time to improvise or cut corners.

4. No Sunlight.  You are a night-walker now, a Vampire.  Stay the f#*%k out of the sun for like...forever.

5. No hot-tubs, no beach, no long therapeutic tub soaks.  This is probably on your care sheet but it bears repeating.  Open wound + standing water (especially warm water) = Petri Dish.

6. Now is not a good time to engage in naked cuddles with your pet.  You don't actually do that, do you?  Good (ahem), me either.

7. Don't try to show off your healing tattoo to people - they will be repulsed.  Unless it is a "freshie" (and then why oh why are you unwrapping it and showing it off?!)  your new tattoo probably looks like a raging case of leprosy.  When I got back from Pittsburgh everyone wanted to see my tattoo.  My solution?  Showed them the pic Hannah Aitchison  snapped in her shop before she wrapped me up.  Problem solved.

8. Ignore all wives tales regarding tattoos.  My husband (who does not have a single tattoo) SWEARS that you are supposed to slap a brand new tattoo "to set it"  Seriously?!  WTF!!  He picked up this useful tip from a former-coworker who received most of his ink in prison.  I don't want to step on any toes here (prison tattooists please do not murder me, thanks) but I do not believe this is good advice.  Unless maybe you are in prison? Tip #8 - avoid prison.

9. Give your skin at least 2 weeks to heal and calm down.  You have this tattoo for life.  Don't rush your healing process.  Some tattoos may take longer to heal than others based on location and how densely packed the ink is.

10. Put your skin box away people.  And your meth because....Don't Pick That Tattoo!!

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