Tattoo After-Care Instructions:
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Taking care of a fresh tattoo is a HUGE responsibility!!! These instructions are specific so that there will be no questions as to what you should or shouldn't do. Contact your artist with any questions you may have regarding your tattoo.
Sacred Fire Arts at 928-386-5060 or firstname.lastname@example.org
These instructions have been working VERY WELL for many years now. Those who follow them meticulously report the fastest healings! Please feel free to share these instructions, as many people report that they would like more thorough aftercare direction.
IMPORTANT POINTS NOT TO FORGET...
* KEEP FRESH TATTOOS CLEAN!!! Wash thoroughly but gently 4 to 6 times a day until the tattoo goes through it's peeling stage, which will usually be about 4 to 7 days after application of the tattoo.
*KEEP TATTOO WELL MOISTURIZED!!! During the tattoo's first week apply moisturizer 3 times a day (or more if the skin becomes excessively dry). Apply your choice of aftercare cream (see recommendations below for more details) taking care to apply as little as needed. Massage the cream in thoroughly. A well cleaned and moisturized tattoo should have a smooth shine, not a greasy gloss.
* Do not scratch, pick at, or in any way scrape a healing tattoo. Depending on tattoo location, bra straps, belts, backpacks, shoes, socks, tight clothes and high levels of physical activity can be high risk. If any in-grown hairs develop, statistics say for best results mess with them as little as possible.
* No prolonged exposure to water, especially chlorinated water. For at least 2 weeks avoid the following: swimming pools, saunas, jacuzzis, long baths, etc.
* No exposure to sunlight. Keep a fresh tattoo away from sunlight (either covered or with sunblock) for at least one month!
* Do not allow interstitial fluid (pus) to accumulate and remain on the tattooed skin's surface.
* Do not keep tattoo too oily; which clogs the pores, collects bacteria and doesn't allow the tattoo to breathe.
* Ice can greatly assist in reducing swelling. It is highly recommended for helping to heal fresh tattoos, especially tattoos in areas that tend to swell more. (eg: underarms, ankles, ribs, necks, elbows, knees, etc.). Ibuprofen can also help with swelling depending on the individual.
*IMPORTANT REMINDERS FOR TRAVELERS:
*DO NOT neglect your tattoo if you have to travel or camp during the healing period!!! It is advised to prepare a travel aftercare kit. In a ziplock bag, or tupperware container set your self up with 1) paper towel, 2) liquid soap, 3) washing water and 4) aftercare cream. Do not skimp on aftercare. Having a travel pack with you makes it much easier to stay on top your aftercare procedure.
*The fresh tattoo is covered immediately following the operation. The covering should be left on approximately 3 - 6 hours. This is the only time the tattoo should be bandaged.
*Wash hands, remove bandage and wash tattoo very well. Be gentle, but thorough. To wash use a wet, white paper towel (Viva and Bounty are softest) with some anti-bacterial soap (Dial, Dr. Bronner's or a soap with some tea tree oil and/or lavender oil are a few options). You may go through a few sheets of paper towel and it may take about 10 - 15 minutes to do the cleaning/moisturizing routine. Wash the tattoo until the paper towel comes away fairly white. After washing, towel dry. After this first washing of your tattoo wait approximately 2 - 4 hours before washing again, allowing the tattooed skin to breathe. After washing and drying the tattoo the second time apply your aftercare cream. Dab on a little at a time, massaging it thoroughly into the skin. It's important that the cream doesn't just sit on the skin's surface.
*An important note regarding aftercare cream, if you haven’t purchased Sacred Fire Arts' Tattoo Care Salve: petroleum based products and/or products containing lanolin, Neosporin, Bacitracin, A and D in petroleum, Lubriderm, Preparation H, Curell and/or Aloe vera ARE NOT recommended! Health food stores often have creams, lotions and soaps that work excellently for tattoo aftercare. Creams containing Calendula, Echinacea, Golden Seal, Shea butter, vitamins A, D and E and seed oils (eg: hemp, almond, avocado, sesame) also work very well.
*After the first two washings your aftercare routine will remain pretty much the same for about 4 - 7 days. A sample day may go like this: Wash tattoo approximately 6 times a day, especially for the first 3 - 5 days. Alternate between washing, drying and applying cream, and washing and drying without using any cream, allowing the skin to breathe for a couple (1 - 3) hours. For instance, wash and dry the tattoo in the morning, then apply aftercare cream. After a few hours wash again, but this time do not apply cream. Your skin should be sufficiently moisturized from the cream you just washed off. Wash again around midday, and apply cream. Again, after a few hours wash again and don't apply cream. Late afternoon/early evening, wash again and apply cream. After a few hours wash, no cream. Then, before bed, wash once more, and apply cream. It's not a bad idea to always try to wash and moisturize your tattoo first thing in the morning and last thing before bed.
*For about the first 4 - 8 days, until most of the peeling is finished (a fresh tattoo will peel like sunburned skin does, don't panic first-timers, that's how it heals) a heavier or oiler cream works great as it moisturizes deeply. After 7 - 10 days, or once the major peeling is done, a lotion may be preferable as they tend to be water based and thus less clogging to the fresh skin's pores. However, a lotion may have to be applied more often during the day. After about 5 - 7 days (after the peeling phase) 3 washings a day are usually sufficient. The more dilligent one is about maintaining a disciplined aftercare schedule, the faster and easier the whole healing process should go. The goal is always not to have any complications.
*Average healing time for a fresh tattoo falls within 5 - 14 days, depending on location, fingers, toes, elbows, knees and necks may require extra personal care and may take a bit longer to heal. Apply a moisturizing/conditioning lotion (or cream) to the tattooed skin at least 2 times a day for an additional 3 - 4 weeks following the operation.
*A note on infections and reactions: An infection, while not common, would likely occur from post-operation contamination such as not being careful to keep it clean and treat it like an open wound. A pigment reaction is another potential risk. If a reaction were to occur, healing might take considerably longer. The skin could remain feverish, swollen, crusted, scabbed, oozing or may develop a rash or "pimples" for 2 - 4 weeks, sometimes longer. Color loss may occur. If a reaction occurs there's not a whole lot a medical doctor can do for you.
Using aftercare products with natural anti-bacterial agents is a first line of defense. Ice packs may be used to help reduce swelling. Some people will take antibiotics internally (such as Golden Seal and Echinacea herbs, or something from their health care provider) as a safety, or in the unlikely event of an infection or reaction. Some folks have reported good results treating lingering reaction symptoms with colloidal silver, 3% hydrogen peroxide and/or aloe vera topical applications.
Fortunately, pigment reactions are rare, (acrylic pigments, while giving very bright colors are not quite as stable or safe as organic based pigments!) and as for an infection, if these instructions are followed carefully, an infection is highly unlikely.