Medically the review by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP — written by elegant Gallagher top top December 12, 2019

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After you’ve made the decision to acquire a tattoo, you’ll more than likely be passionate to present it off, yet it may take longer than you think because that it to totally heal.

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The healing process takes location over 4 stages, and also the length of time the takes for the wound come recover might vary depending on the dimension of the tattoo, wherein it is on her body, and your very own habits.

This article will get in the step of tattoo healing, just how long it takes, and also any indicators that deserve to indicate that your tattoo no healing well.


After getting a tattoo, the outer layer the skin (the part you can see) will generally heal within 2 come 3 weeks. While it might look and feel healed, and also you might be tempted to slow down ~ above the aftercare, it have the right to take as long as 6 months for the skin below a tattoo to truly heal.

Skin roughly larger tattoos takes much longer to recuperate and details factors, choose picking at the scabs, no moisturizing, forgoing SPF, or utilizing a lotion with alcohol may slow the process.


Generally speaking, the step of tattoo healing deserve to be divided into four distinct stages, and also the care for your tattoo changes slightly depending on the stage.

Week 1

The very first stage large from work 1 through around day 6. Your brand-new tattoo will be bandaged because that the first few hours, after i beg your pardon it’s considered an open up wound. Your body will certainly be responding come injury, and also you may an alert redness, oozing, slim inflammation or swelling, or a burn sensation.

Week 2

In this stage, you may experience itching and flaking. Flaky skin is nothing to it is in concerned about — the a herbal response, and the octopus will stay intact, also if that looks choose some of it’s coming off.

Try to withstand scratching or choose at scabs. A moisturizer encourage by a tattoo artist or doctor deserve to keep the skin approximately the tattoo hydrated, and it might ease itching.

Weeks 3 and 4

Your tattoo may begin to dry out, and the itchiness must pass. If that doesn’t and redness persists, it could be an early sign of one infected tattoo. Her tattoo may show up less vibrant than expected, but that’s because a class of dry skin has created over it.

This will normally exfoliate itself, revealing the lively tattoo. Stand up to the advice to pick or scratch, i m sorry could cause scarring.

Months 2 come 6

Itching and also redness should have subsided by this point, and also your tattoo may look totally healed, though it’s clever to continue with aftercare. Long-term care for a tattoo consists of staying hydrated, put on SPF or sun-protective clothing, and also keeping the tattoo clean.


Everyone wants their tattoo to heal quickly, but the reality is that choose with any wound, it requirements time and care. There are some points you can do to speed up the heal process.

Cover tattoo v clothing

Sunlight can reason your tattoo come fade, and also fresh tattoos are especially sensitive to the sun. Cover the tattoo with loose clothes like lengthy sleeves or pants once you space out in the sun. Carry out not use a sunscreen until the tattoo has totally healed.

Don’t re-bandage after friend take turn off the early dressing

Your tattoo requirements to breathe, so when you eliminate the initial bandage — typically it’ll it is in bandaged in clear plastic or surgical wrap by the artist — it’s ideal not come cover it. Pack it may an outcome in extra moisture and a lack of oxygen, which can reason scabbing and slow healing.

Clean daily

You must use lukewarm — not hot, which might hurt the skin or open the pores, resulting in ink to attract inward — and also sterile water to clean her tattoo at least two to three times a day.

Before friend begin, make sure your hands space thoroughly clean using an antibacterial soap. Then, splash water ~ above the tattoo, follow with fragrance-free and also alcohol-free soap, and either permit the tattoo air dry or gently dried it with a clean file towel.

Apply ointment

Your tattoo requirements air to heal, for this reason it’s best to skip heavy products like Vaseline unless particularly recommended by your artist.

In the first few days, your artist will likely advise using assets with lanolin, petroleum, and vitamins A and also D. After ~ a couple of days, you can switch to a lighter, fragrance-free aftercare moisturizer or also pure coconut oil.

Don’t scrape or pick

Scabbing is a healthy part of the heal process, but picking or scratching at the scab can delay the healing process and may impact the verity of the tattoo or result in scarring.

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Avoid scented products

It’s critical to protect against scented lotions and also soaps on her tattoo, and also depending on where your tattoo is located, you may also want to move to unscented shampoo, conditioner, and bodywash. Perfume in assets can cause a reaction when it comes into contact with tattoo ink.