Taking care of your new piece of body art is crucial. One part of post-tattoo care is to avoid swimming or soaking your new tattoo in water for up to four weeks, depending on the rate that your tattoo heals.
During the weeks immediately after a new tattoo is inked, it is like an open wound that needs to heal and seal itself.
Can I Go Swimming With a New Tattoo?
No. Don’t go swimming or immerse your new tattoo in water until every bit of scab and dry skin has fallen off. This can take as long as four weeks.
There is a big difference between getting your tattoo wet (during a normal shower) and entirely submerging or soaking your fresh wound in still water. This applies to lakes, hot tubs, and swimming pools, especially those with chlorine and other chemicals which could be painful and damaging to an open wound.
When Can My New Tattoo Get Wet?
You can get your tattoo wet in the following circumstances:
- While you are washing your tattoo.
- During your normal showering routine.
- In the accidental case that your tattoo is rained on or splashed.
Make sure the water you use to clean your tattoo is clean and that you let the water run over the tattoo gently. Let your tattoo air dry. Do not use a towel because any lint particles left in the wound can potentially lead to infection.
I Have to Go Swimming With a New Tattoo. What Do I Do?
Honestly, you should try to reschedule your swimming training, trips to the beach, and Jacuzzi sessions. Plan your tattoo appointment around your extracurricular activities and get your tattoo at a time when you can manage to stay out of the water for a few weeks.
If you absolutely must submerge it, however, here’s how to prevent water from touching your tattoo:
- Wrap a waterproof material such as plastic tightly around the tattoo. Try to seal out the water as much as possible. (Anyone who has ever tried to do this before knows it is impossible to do with 100% success, but at least it will limit the amount of water touching the new tattoo).
- Keep your tattoo wrapped for the shortest length of time possible.
- Once you are out of the water, wash your tattoo promptly with an antibacterial wash and clean water to remove any infection-causing bacteria.
- Allow to air-dry. If there is a lot of excess water, pat it off with a clean, non-fluffy towel and let the air dry it the rest of the way.
I Accidentally Got My Tattoo Wet. What Do I Do?
If your tattoo is accidentally submerged in water for more than a few seconds:
- Wash with anti-bacterial tattoo wash.
- Allow the area to air-dry. You could also pat it dry with a non-fluffy towel or cloth.
Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?
Fresh, open wounds require clean air and time to dry out. As your new tattoo heals, the top layer of skin will dry out, begin to flake, and crumble off. It might also form scabs. It is critical to keep your new tattoo dry throughout this process, because if you don’t, the scabs might fall off prematurely. This could result in a loss of ink.
Standing water (e.g. bath, hot tub, and swimming pool water) is not bacteria-free. Imagine the grime from your feet floating up to your new tattoo wound and penetrating the fragile skin. It’s not a pretty picture, and neither is an infection.
The best way to prevent tattoo damage and infection is to just stay out of the water!
You can get your tattoo wet when every scab or dry piece of skin has fallen off and a new layer of skin has grown to seal the area. As stated earlier, this can take up to four weeks.
It’s worth taking the effort to avoid infection. Besides potentially damaging your new tattoo design, an infection could cause a lot more damage to your actual limb in extreme circumstances. But they do happen.
Good luck with your scabs, your healing, and your freaking awesome tattoo!