Tattoo AftercareTattoo artists, and people with tattoos, vary widely in their preferred methods of caring for new tattoos. Some artists recommend keeping a new tattoo wrapped for the first twenty-four hours, while others suggest removing temporary bandaging after two hours or less. Many tattooists advise against allowing too much contact with hot tub or pool water, or soaking in a tub for the first two weeks. This is to prevent the tattoo ink from washing out or fading due to water and avoid infection from exposure to bacteria and chlorine.
General consensus for care advises against removing the scab that forms on a new tattoo, and avoiding sun exposure for extended periods; both of these can contribute to fading of the image. Furthermore, it is agreed that a new tattoo needs to be kept clean. Various products may be recommended for application to the skin, ranging from those intended for the treatment of cuts, burns and scrapes, to cocoa butter, lanolin, A&D or Aquaphor. Oil based ointments are almost always recommended to be used in very thin layers due to their inability to evaporate and therefore over-hydrate the already perforated skin. In recent years, specific commercial tattoo aftercare products have been developed for tattoo aftercare. Although opinions about these products vary, there is near total agreement that either alone or in addition to some other product, mild soap and warm water work well to keep a tattoo clean and free from infection.
Ultimately, the amount of ink that remains in the skin throughout the healing process determines, in large part, how robust the final tattoo will look. If a tattoo becomes infected (uncommon but possible if one neglects to properly clean their tattoo) or if the scab falls off too soon (e.g., if it absorbs too much water and sloughs off early or is picked or scraped off), then the ink will not be properly fixed in the skin and the final image will be negatively affected.
Tattoo removal is an option for a tattoo that's no longer wanted, however, this is not always an easy solution, and many people simply apply a coverup tattoo to the desired area.
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