Dry healing vs. wrap healing your new tattoo: Which is right for you? Opinions are like assholes…everybody has one. When it comes to healing and aftercare of your tattoo, you’d better take the opinion of a professional. There are always alternatives though, here are a couple…
1. Remember your sort of mechanic friend, Frankie? He says that that a bit of butter every second day is perfect for healing your new tattoo. Not margarine, butter…
2. Ask Jeeves
3. That Goth chick you kind of fear and like that works at the bookstore
4. Your tattoo artist!
If only paying taxes where this easy right? The good news is that even tattoo artists have different ideas on what works the best. Some even use different methods for different tattoos or tattoo placements. Let’s get into the different ways that you can approach your healing regime and you can decide for yourself…
DRY HEALING TATTOOS:
Make use of a mild (pH balanced), fragrance-free, anti-bacterial liquid soap for washing your hands and your tattoo. To reduce your risk of infection, ALWAYS wash your hands with an anti-bacterial liquid soap under lukewarm running water BEFORE touching your new tattoo. Also, remember to pat them dry with a clean dry towel (or preferably a paper towel).
Shortly after your tattoo is completed the artist will cover it with a dressing, keep this dressing on for about an hour. With clean hands, remove the dressing. Using soap and lukewarm running water, lightly wash the tattoo, making sure to get rid of all excess ointment, blood, and any other residue. If a friend is assisting you, please make sure that they too have washed their hands.
After washing your tattoo, lightly pat it dry with a CLEAN dry towel (or paper towel) and apply a tiny amount of BEPANTHEN Cream – this nappy rash ointment is easily available over the counter at any pharmacy. DO NOT cake it on, the tattoo should have a slight sheen after rubbing in the ointment.
Wash and apply fresh ointment to your tattoo several times a day – starting first thing when you wake up in the morning and ending just before you go to bed. After a few days, your tattoo will begin to form a scab which will peel – DO NOT pick or scratch the skin. If it itches, wash your tattoo and re-apply ointment. The majority of healing should be over in about 2 weeks, but it does take up to 4 weeks for a tattoo to be completely healed.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER:
AVOID products containing lanolin, petroleum or petroleum-based oils (e.g.: Vaseline and Zambuk) – these are unsuitable for tattoos, they prohibit the absorption of oxygen and the expulsion of toxins, which can lead to an infection. They can also clog pores and cause ink to leach from the skin.
Try to AVOID sleeping on your tattoo – this can result in the tattoo becoming stuck onto your clothes – if this happens, DO NOT rip them off, soak the area in water and then remove your clothing (TIP: sleep with dark linen and clothing to avoid leaving an imprint of your tattoo on your sheets and PJs).
AVOID wearing tight clothing that will rub or irritate the tattoo – this can lead to excess scabbing and a loss of ink, try to wear loose-fitting cotton clothing over the tattooed area.
If you’re the active type – AVOID over-working the freshly tattooed area and ALWAYS give your skin a good wash after exercise to get rid of any sweat and bacteria.
During healing, AVOID soaking your tattoo in water (this includes swimming in the pool/ocean/river/dam and soaking in a bath or Jacuzzi). Showers are okay (and encouraged!).
AVOID the sun – wear loose cotton clothing over your fresh tattoo to protect it and, once the tattoo has healed, ALWAYS apply a sunblock with a high SPF to preserve the colour of your tattoo.
WRAP HEALING TATTOOS:
After your tattoo is completed, your artist will wrap it up. Keep this plastic wrap on for 3 to 4 hours.
Wash your hands using the Protex Gentle Liquid Hand Soap. Under lukewarm running water, wash off all blood/plasma build up on your tattoo. Pat the tattoo dry using a clean, dry towel OR paper towel. Allow the tattoo to air dry for 1 hour.
Apply the Opsite Flexigrid dressing (make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging). Leave the Opsite Flexigrid dressing on for 3 to 4 days. After 4 days, remove the plaster – this works best when the area is soaked in warm water for a bit and slowly worked off using the soap. Wash off all blood/plasma build-up using the Protex Gentle Liquid Hand Soap. Apply a thin layer of Bepanthen.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Always make sure to wash your hands before touching your tattoo. You will be able to shower with the Opsite Flexigrid on. Over the course of 4 days there will be a build-up of ink/blood/plasma underneath the tattoo – it will look as if the ink is running and you will barely see the tattoo after 4 days – this is completely normal. Be sure to air dry the skin thoroughly before putting on the Opsite Flexigrid, if the skin is too damp, the Opsite will not stick to the skin.
Do not pull off the Opsite Flexigrid while your skin is dry. If you cannot find an Opsite Flexigrid dressing large enough for the tattoo, buy smaller ones and overlap them, ensuring that the entire tattoo is completely covered.
So how do you decide which healing method is better for you or a particular tattoo?
Well, unlike the multiple choice quiz above, it’s not always a simple answer. No matter how few or many tattoos you already have, there are a lot of variables: your skin condition in general, what your immune system is up to at the moment, your age, how much melanin you naturally have, the location of the new tattoo, your daily activity and routines…
The best answer is that your new tattoo is collaboration. Work closely with your artist (it doesn’t get too much closer than permanently transforming your skin, now does it?) to achieve the best possible design, placement, execution and healing. You may start one healing method and need to switch. You may finish one method that works for you 100% of the time. The key is to communicate with your tattoo artists just as closely after your new tattoo as you did before and during your new tattoo.
Tattooing has been around for thousands of years. With a plan for proper healing, there’s no reason your new tattoo can’t last at least that long!