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The healing process for a tattoo can last between two to four weeks. After-care instructions vary among tattoo artists, but they all generally agree with following these strategies. After your appointment, your tattoo will be covered with a bandage or plastic wrapping, which can be removed after about six hours. Wash your tattoo three times per day with unscented antibacterial soap, pat dry with a paper towel, and cover with a thin layer of ointment.
If anything strikes you as odd or particularly painful, head to the doctor. It’s important to act as soon as you think something is wrong. “If you don’t care for an infected tattoo, you can risk an undesirable aesthetic appearance of the tattooed area or a disseminated soft tissue infection,” says Devgan. “Tattoos are controlled injuries to the skin, so they represent a break in the skin that must be treated like an open wound, with great care taken to keep it clean.” (Source: www.menshealth.com)
“Any part of the body is at risk for infection,” says Ife Rodney, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and medical director at Eternal Dermatology in Fulton, Maryland. “But places that are prone to more moisture and bacteria — like under the arms, the lip and feet — get infected more easily. Plus, the lower extremities, in general, take a bit longer to heal, making them more prone to infections.” However, you really want to be careful with your hands and fingers. “We touch so many different surfaces every day, that these tattoos have the greatest risk, especially since we will need to control ourselves from using our hands while the tattoo heals,” explains Dr. Rodney.
If you've ever gotten a tattoo, you know it's par for the course to have pain and swelling after a session — and both Dr. Rodney and Dr. Zeichner agree that's normal. However, anything beyond that may be cause for concern, especially if symptoms last for three or more days. "If you are developing significant warmth, redness or tenderness, you may have developed an infection," says Dr. Zeichner. "If you feel unwell or have a fever or any pus in the area of the tattoo, these can be other signs of an infection." You’ll also want to be aware of leaking ink or excessive itching, notes Dr. Rodney.
Even if your previous tattoos have healed perfectly, it's imperative to consult a board-certified dermatologist if you have signs of an infection. “Other conditions, like allergic reactions to tattoo ink, may present in a similar manner, with redness, itching and swelling,” says Dr. Rodney. “As treatment for both of these conditions is different, it is best to figure out the correct diagnosis ASAP.” (Source: www.goodhousekeeping.com)
"If an infection occurs, it's not the end of the world," says Lathe-Vitale. "Once it's cleared up, the tattoo can always be touched up if necessary." The important thing is to wait until the skin has fully recovered because an infection can hinder the healing of the original tattoo. "This may mean that tattoo pigment is not properly retained in the skin,” explains Dr. Zeichner. "It's okay to get a touch up; however, I recommend waiting for at least one to two months after the infection has resolved to make sure that the skin is fully healed.” At that point, Lathe-Vitale advises letting your artist visually inspect the tattoo to determine if it's ready. (Source: www.goodhousekeeping.com)