Although you might be eager to flaunt your new tattoo at the beach or pool, it’s important to resist the urge until the tattoo has completely healed. This can take a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks, meaning you should avoid swimming in any type of water during this period.
So, you’ve just got a new tattoo, and with summer approaching, you may be wondering if it’s safe to go for a swim. It’s common knowledge that water and new tattoos don’t mix, as your tattoo artist likely warned you about the risks of submerging your tattoo underwater. However, now you’re doing your own research on how to waterproof your tattoo for swimming because, let’s face it, we all look forward to the arrival of summer to enjoy refreshing dips in the sea.
It can be challenging to determine the appropriate time to take a dip without causing damage to your fresh ink. However, you don’t have to worry. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know, including when it’s safe to swim, how to waterproof your tattoo, aftercare tips, and more!
Why should you wait before getting into the water?
Waiting for your tattoo to fully heal before swimming is crucial for both your health and the longevity of your new body art. Immersing newly tattooed skin in water is not recommended due to the risk of infection, which can range from mild to severe. Since a new tattoo is essentially an open wound, submerging it in water can expose it to harmful bacteria that could lead to infections. While the risk may be lower in heavily chlorinated water like a swimming pool, chlorine doesn’t kill all bacteria.
Soaking a new tattoo could also cause fading and discoloration, as chlorine and salt water can leach ink from the tattoo, making the color less vibrant. Swimming can also prolong healing, leading to more itching, flaking, and scabbing, which can also cause fading, patchiness, and blurred lines.
While some skin irritation is typical with a new tattoo, it can worsen the risks of infection and damage to the tattoo. Additionally, it can be extremely uncomfortable. Recently tattooed skin is delicate and vulnerable. Chemicals such as chlorine can seep into the skin, causing pain and stinging, and can lead to irritant contact dermatitis. This kind of dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction caused by chemicals penetrating the skin. The result is a rash that is red and itchy and might be accompanied by blisters, sores, scabbing, and swelling. All of these symptoms can have a lasting effect on the appearance of your tattoo.
How long should you wait to go swimming after getting a tattoo?
After getting a new tattoo, it is recommended that you wait for about four weeks until the tattoo is fully healed before swimming. It is crucial to avoid submerging your tattoo in water until the skin surrounding it has fully recovered. Submerging your tattoo in water too soon may lead to skin irritation, infection, and damage to the ink. This includes avoiding baths, hot tubs, pools, oceans, rivers, lakes, and any other body of water until your tattoo has healed completely.
The healing process can take anywhere from two weeks to three months, depending on the size and location of the tattoo. It is best to follow your tattoo provider’s advice on when it is safe to swim again. While it is okay to shower with a new tattoo, avoid staying in the shower for too long and using loofahs or sponges until your skin has healed. If your tattoo gets a little wet before it has fully healed, quickly dab it with a clean towel to prevent attracting bacteria.
How to tell if your tattoo has fully healed?
Identifying if your tattoo has completely healed can be challenging since it may appear and feel healed on the surface in just a few days. Typically, tattoo artists consider a tattoo fully healed within 2-4 weeks, but healing time may vary depending on the location and size of the tattoo, as well as the aftercare measures and your lifestyle. Healing can take up to 6 months.
Your tattoo is considered completely healed when it no longer shows signs of redness, itching, scabbing, or flaking. If you are unsure, it’s best to visit the tattoo studio and have a professional evaluate it.
In case you need to expose your tattoo to water, such as for physical therapy or rehab, you can apply a waterproof dressing like Saniderm to protect your new tattoo while submerging it. Remember to cover your tattoo entirely and remove the bandage as soon as you’re done. Covering your healing tattoo for extended periods may delay the healing process.
Afterward, carefully remove the bandage and gently wash your tattoo with warm water and mild soap, patting it dry with a clean paper towel.
How to protect your new tattoo when swimming?
Wrap waterproof bandage: To protect your new tattoo when swimming, you can use a waterproof bandage like Sanaderm or Tegaderm or medical retention tape. Apply the bandage right before swimming to avoid moisture buildup. Remember that swimming in oceans, lakes, and rivers is not recommended due to the unpredictable bacteria in these waters.
Use Petroleum Jelly: To add an extra layer of protection, you can apply petroleum jelly or a petroleum jelly alternative on top of the waterproof bandage. If petroleum jelly is too harsh on your skin, you can try water-based lotions like coconut oil or cocoa butter.
Donts swim for more than an hour: When swimming, try not to submerge your tattoo for more than one hour to minimize the risk of infection or damage. Remove the waterproof bandage as soon as you finish swimming to prevent bacteria from spreading.
Rinse your tattoo with fresh water and mild soap: After removing the bandage, clean your tattoo gently with warm water and fragrance-free, antibacterial soap. Pat your skin dry with a clean towel and apply your tattoo aftercare cream or a recommended moisturizer. Look for non-comedogenic and fragrance-free products for the best results.
What to do if you already went swimming?
If you’ve already taken a dip in the water with your new tattoo without any protective measures, there’s no need to panic just yet. Although it’s not a common occurrence, the possibility of complications like infection or ink damage still exists.
You should keep an eye out for any signs of trouble like redness, tenderness, and peeling, which are normal in the first few days after getting a tattoo but can be prolonged by swimming. If these symptoms persist or worsen, it’s advisable to consult your tattoo artist.
Tattoo degradation, such as bubbling, can occur if a new tattoo stays wet for too long, which may lead to fading and scarring.
How to shower with your new tattoo?
Protecting a new tattoo while showering is a common concern for many people. Showering with a new tattoo can be tricky, and it’s important to take precautions to prevent water submersion. During the first few days of the healing process, it’s crucial to avoid showering the new tattoo as it is the most vulnerable to developing infections. It’s best to wait until the tattoo has started to dry out and heal before taking a full-body shower. However, even then, your tattoo requires protection.
To protect your tattoo during the shower, it’s recommended to apply a thin layer of Vaseline. This helps to keep the tattoo waterproof and prevents water from getting inside. After the shower, make sure to clean your tattoo thoroughly and remove all the Vaseline to prevent moisture buildup and potential infection. Avoid exposing the tattoo to direct water pressure, and do not wash it until it has fully healed to avoid damaging it and risking an infection.
Tips on how to care for your tattoo before waterproofing
Here are some tips on how to care for your new tattoo before attempting to waterproof it:
- Keep the tattoo clean: Wash the tattoo gently twice a day with mild, fragrance-free soap and lukewarm water. Avoid rubbing it, and pat it dry with a clean towel.
- Apply ointment: After washing, apply a thin layer of a recommended tattoo aftercare product to the tattoo. Avoid using petroleum jelly, as it can clog pores and slow down the healing process.
- Avoid tight clothing: Wearing tight clothes can irritate the tattoo by rubbing against it. Choose loose-fitting clothing that won’t stick to the tattoo.
- Stay out of the sun: Sun exposure can fade the tattoo’s color and damage your skin. Avoid direct sunlight and use sunscreen if you need to go outside.
- Don’t scratch or pick at the tattoo: Scratching or picking at the tattoo can cause scabbing and delay the healing process.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your new tattoo heals correctly and is ready to be waterproofed.
It can be tempting to flaunt your new tattoo and take a dip in the water, but it’s important to exercise patience with something that has just been etched into your skin to last a lifetime. Allowing your tattoo to heal properly is crucial; nothing will safeguard it during swimming like fully healed skin. Thus, it’s wise to plan your tattoos carefully and avoid getting them a month or two before the summer holidays if you plan on swimming. Instead, consider getting them during autumn or winter so they have ample time to heal before the warm weather arrives.
Swimming with a new tattoo is not recommended due to the risk of interfering with the healing process, potential damage to the tattoo, and an increased risk of infection. It is best to avoid swimming and strictly follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare instructions.