The Importance of Aftercare

Getting a tattoo or piercing is something you should carefully think about. I'm not only talking about the size, color, placement, and all the other design factors. Tattoos and piercings are still procedures that break the skin and require healing and care, only a bit artistic and more colorful than a trip to the doctors. This means that tattoos call for an appropriate care and treatment during the first few days or weeks. Piercings can require simple daily care for a few months. Not taking care of your fresh tattoo can lead to complications such as damaged or dry skin which will affect the appearance of your tattoo. And not caring for your piercing can lead to irritations and migration. Now that you have your new tattoo or piercing, it’s up to you to make sure it heals beautifully and you enjoy it for a lifetime!

Tattoo Aftercare

  1. Once you complete the tattoo the artist will clean everything, and either apply ointment and a bandage or an dermashield bandage. Depending on size and location, the bandage will be made of different materials including gauze, dry-lock, plastic, and medical tape. For this style of bandage, please leave it on and alone until you are home and can wash the tattoo on your own. For derm-shield, see below.
    • With dermasure it should stay in place for 24 hours. It is normal for blood and fluids to collect under the bandage. After 24 hours, under warm soapy water, you can gently remove the bandage. Clean the tattoo thoroughly, and allow it to air dry. After 24 hours, you can begin applying lotion. Some clients can have a reaction to any adhesive, please see us if this is the case.
  2. Once you get home from getting your tattoo, you should then gently remove the bandage and gently wash your new tattoo (see washing your tattoo), pat it dry, and then apply ointment (see applying ointment). If the bandage is stuck to the tattoo gently rinse it with water until it becomes loose enough to remove. Do not force a bandage off if stuck. It is typical that you tattoo is tender, swollen, and potentially has some redness or blood. You will NOT re-bandage a tattoo.
  3. Over the next few days you will need to keep your tattoo clean by washing it up to 3 times a day (or if it gets dirty) and re-apply ointment, remember to wash your hands before touching it.
  4. After 3-5 days your tattoo will become a little dry looking and begin flaking skin off of it. The skin coming off will have tattoo pigment in it, please do not be alarmed, your tattoo is not falling off. This is a very typical process and the new fresh skin underneath may appear shiny and the tattoo may look dull, don’t worry, it won’t look like that forever. At this point you may switch from ointment to a fragrance free lotion such as Eucerun, Lubdederm, or Curel.
  5. If your tattoo needs any touch up spots once its fully healed please feel free to contact your artist about an appointment.
  • Wash your hands, remove any rings or jewelry on your hands, and expose the tattoo (move or remove any clothing if necessary to get to the tattoo.)
  • Using lukewarm water and a mild fragrance free soap, create a good lather in your hands.
  • Apply lather very gently to your tattoo using fingertips or hands and slight pressure.
  • Make sure to remove any dried fluids or blood, and any remaining ointment.
  • Rinse the tattoo with lukewarm to cool water and remove all soap residue.
  • Gently pat dry with a lint free towel or allow to air dry.
  • Once your tattoo is washed and dried, you will want to apply a thin layer of artist recommended ointment (aquaphor, A&D ointment). Please check to make sure you have no known allergies to ointments or ingredients before using.
  • Make sure the entire tattoo gets a very thin coat of ointment. Thin. Rub it in like lotion but if you can still see ointment, or the tattoo is glistening and shiny, you have applied too much. You may gently remove excess by blotting with a clean paper towel.
  • Apply ointment to the tattoo any time its become dry, or after you have washed it.
  • Keep clothing clean and non restricting
  • Do NOT go swimming, get in a hot tub, bath tub, or otherwise submerge your tattoo under any type of water. Allowing water to wash over it in the shower is fine, do NOT submerge your new tattoo under water.
  • Do not allow anyone else to touch your new tattoo.
  • Do not allow animals to touch, snuggle, or lick your new tattoo. If you have pets, please keep your bedding free of pet hair or dander.
  • Your tattoo is an open wound until it is healed, keeping it clean is the best way to prevent any complications.
  • Do not pick at the skin that is flaking off, do not pull it, and please remember to wash gently. Allowing the skin to naturally slough off lowers the chances of damaging the healing skin and the tattoo.
  • It’s also very important while your tattoo is healing to keep it out of direct sunlight. Once your tattoo is healed it is suggested to wear sunblock on a daily basis. UV rays have the ability to break down pigment under the skin and make your tattoo fade or look dull. To keep your tattoo beautiful and bright for years to come, please wear sunscreen daily.
  • Stay healthy! Eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier is will be for you tattoo to heal.

We can’t know exactly how long it will take your tattoo to heal. Expect new tattoos to be sore and red for about 7-10 days- but full healing generally takes an entire month.

Piercing Aftercare

Sterile Saline Wound Wash: Saline is the key to quick healing- it promotes balance so you can heal faster. The safest, easiest, and most accurate way is Sterile Saline Wound Wash- it is sterile and comes in a pressurized can that remains sterile even after use. Do not use contact saline, nasal saline, or saline with any additives. All you want is wound wash saline. It can be purchased here from us, or at any local pharmacy.

Q-tips: q-tips are great for getting around piercings, particularly in tricky to reach areas like the inside of a nostril or back of a tragus. You can also find makeup qtips, which come to fine points, and are even better for really difficult to clean areas (daiths, forward helixes, and rooks in particular.)

Chemicals of any kind will upset the balance inside your body and your piercing will heal slower, if it heals at all. DO NOT USE any product containing an “active ingredient” and/or marked “For External Use Only” including but not limited to: H2Ocean, Satin, Provon, Rubbing Alcohol, Hydrogen Peroxide, Bactine, Ear Care Solutions, Antibacterial Soaps (i.e. liquid dial or softsoap), neosporin, betadine, or hibiclens.

Always wash your hands before touching your body piercing.

Saline Rinse: Soften any crusties on the jewelry and the surrounding skin with saline and without turning the jewelry (soaking does a tremendous job- see below). Gently clear any lymph (crusties) using a clean q-tip and saline without turning the jewelry. Do this a few times a day, when activity may cause the jewelry to move (exercise, etc.) and any time the jewelry feels “sticky” or uncomfortable until your piercing is fully healed.

Saline Soak: Heat a small amount of saline in a clean container in the microwave. Place this solution in a position that will soak the piercing. For instance, hold a small glass over your navel and lie back, or use clean nonwoven gauze soaked in saline for hard to get piercings. Leave the warm saline there until it cools, then rinse with fresh saline. Do this at least once a day.

Oral Piercings: Maintain good oral hygiene. Brush, floss, and rinse regularly. We suggest picking up a new toothbrush or new toothbrush head after piercing so you don’t have any old bacteria from your old toothbrush. Avoid any products that contain whitening while the piercing is healing. As soon as its comfortable to do so, you can gently clean the jewelry with your toothbrush while brushing your teeth to prevent plaque buildup.

NEVER move jewelry back and forth through the piercing, it does more harm than good.

  • Do not play with new piercings, as physical irritation is the cause of many problems. Leave them alone. When clothing must cover the piercing, wear clean, loose, breathable clothes.
  • Stay healthy! Eat a nutritious diet. The healthier your lifestyle, the easier it will be for your piercing to heal. Exercise during healing is fine, just listen to your body.
  • Make sure your bedding is kept clean and changed regularly. Wear clean, comfortable breathable clothing that protects your piercing while sleeping.
  • Showering is safer than taking a bath, because bathtubs tend to harbour bacteria. Bath Bombs, bubble bath, and other bath chemicals can be irritating to a piercing while it heals.
  • Chlorine is tremendously drying and irritating to new piercings and should be avoided at all costs. If you can not stay out of the water then do your best to soak the piercing and rinse with saline whenever you swim. Avoid hot tubs until the piercing is healed. Lakes and oceans are a topic of debate, but a few things are certain: sewage is frequently dumped into these water systems, and presents an additional risk. Lakes, slow-moving rivers, marinas, and the like are the most risky areas as water is not frequently cleaned out. And Staphylococcus is found in many bodies of water. Use discretion, and pay attention to the condition of your piercing.
  • “Keloids” and Scar Tissue: A large majority of people mistake irritation for scarring. If you suspect you are developing scar tissue- contact your piercer. There are several approaches to dealing with these problems, and your piercer can point you in the right direction.
  • Avoid undue trauma such as friction from clothing, excessive motion of the area, playing with the jewelry and vigorous cleaning.
  • Avoid over cleaning. This can delay healing and irritate your piercing.
  • Avoid all oral contact, rough play, and contact with others bodily fluids on or near the piercing during healing.
  • Avoid stress and recreational drug use including excessive caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Avoid ALL beauty and cosmetic products on or around the piercing including makeup, lotions, sprays, and soaps.
  • Don’t hang and charms or objects from the piercing until it is fully healed.

More often than not, people who think they have an infection actually have an irritation and adjusting the care will fix the issue. You can recognize true infection by its relatively sudden inflammation and accompanying discharge of actual pus and or blood. If you suspect that you have an infection, contact your body piercer or your doctor at once.

Downsizing is essential for almost all healing piercings. We pierce with room to accommodate for any swelling and healing your piercing will go through. After the initial swelling and healing is over, that length can often be excessive and cause issues. It’s important you come back in and have the jewelry shortened, so it’s a good fit. Leaving the jewelry long can cause irritation, migration, and other issues. Your piercer will tell you an exact timeframe to downsize in, but in general coming back at around 1 month for a checkup is a great idea.

  • Unless there is an issue with the size, style, or material of the initial jewelry, leave it in place for the entire healing period. A qualified piercer should perform and necessary jewelry change that occurs during healing.
  • Contact your piercer if your jewelry must be temporarily removed (such as for a medical procedure). There are non-metallic jewelry alternatives.
  • Leave jewelry in at all times. Even old, well-healed piercings can shrink and close in minutes after having been there for years! If removed re-insertion can be difficult if not impossible.
  • With clean hands or paper products be sure to regularly check the threaded ends on your jewelry for tightness (Righty tighty, lefty loosey)
  • Carry a spare clean ball in case of loss or breakage
  • Should you decide you no longer want the piercing, seek professional help in the removal of jewelry and continue cleaning the piercing until the hole closes. In most cases only a small indentation will remain.

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