I’ve seen a lot of search engine strings to my site relating to how long it takes tattoos to heal. So I thought I’d write a post on the healing process and the amount of time it can take for a tattoo to heal.
How Your Tattoo Heals
It is important to know what your tattoo does during the healing process in order to take proper care of it. The tattoo is an open wound and acts just as a brush burn does. The first couple of days (1-2) your tattoo will ooze fluid and, to some extent, lubricate itself. You must realize however that after about two days your tattoo will try to push all the moisture out of your skin. That means that your tattoo is easier to take care of in the first few days compared to the later healing process. It is extremely important to take care of your tattoo during the entire healing process for optimal tattoo quality.
How To Take Care Of Your Tattoos
For a tattoo to heal properly it must remain moist while your damaged skin regenerates. To achieve this you will need to use an over the counter lubricant such as Bacitracin. I do not recommend Vasoline as it has a tendency to fade tattoo ink, but it will work in a pinch. If your tattoo is on the top of your hand or your neck this can be easily maintained but many other locations will require some work to constantly keep moist.
I recommend that anyone with a fresh tattoo wraps it in plastic wrap for at least a week, applying the petroleum jelly between the skin and plastic wrap. This will not only keep the petroleum jelly from wiping off, it will also keep your clothes from being stained. The plastic wrap also acts as a second skin which will make the irritated skin feel better.
It is extremely important to keep the tattoo moist for an entire week. You will start to see peeling of dead skin after 3-4 days but your tattoo can scab even after the peeling process has begun.
If you follow the plastic wrap and Bacitracin regiment that I described above for an entire week, your tattoo will heal quickly without scabs. If your tattoo does dry out and scab, there is no way to remove the scabs. You will just have to wait for the scabs to fall off naturally. Scabs can take 3-4 weeks to fall off once established. If you remove a scab prematurely you run the risk of removing ink from your design which can only be fixed by retouching the tattoo.