How do tattoos heal?

A day by day guide on how your new tattoo heals. The first two weeks are crucial! Here you will find what to look for, what not to do, and how to care for it.

Blog author
Ink Public Team
October 10 2021

It is probably second nature for the tattoo veterans to know what is happening with their tattoos and how to take care of them. For those of us, who are less experienced, it might be a bit more challenging to understand the processes of what goes on and how to care for the tattoo. In this guide, you will learn how your tattoo changes day by day and care for it. This guide provides what to expect, and it is in no way a step by step guide on tattoo aftercare. You should listen to your tattoo artist care instructions, and if something seems out of the ordinary, do not hesitate to contact them.


Day 1 


This is the day you got your new tattoo. Your new addition is now probably wrapped, and your artist has handed you the instructions on how to care for your tattoo. At this point, your tattoo can be somewhat considered as an open wound. So you might see some plasma emerging from the design through your covering. How long you should keep your tattoo covered, although often debated by various specialists and artists, really depends on your tattoo artists’ instructions. After you take off the wrap, most instructions suggest washing your tattoo with lukewarm water with antibacterial soap or mild soap. Since your tattoo is quite sensitive at this point, try to avoid rubbing anything abrasive that might irritate the skin.


Day 2-3


The tattoo should look as fresh as it did as you walked out of the tattoo studio. Depending on the person and their skin/hydration levels, this can vary a bit. You might see some skin tightening if you are on the dryer skin side. 

The aftercare for this phase is often just washing the tattoo several times a day following the same procedure and instructions as washing it the first time. You should generally avoid sun exposure and tight clothing, as it can aggravate not only the skin but also damage the tattoo.

tattoo heal



Day 4


At this time, you might start to see that your tattoo is dry throughout the whole design. Some describe that feeling of having a sticker stuck on your skin. There isn’t usually much scabbing at this point.

If you start to feel that the tattoo is getting quite dry, you might start using the aftercare cream if this was not instructed earlier on by the directions left by your tattoo artist. You ought to continue washing your tattoo and avoiding anything that might aggravate it.


Day 5


At this point, you might experience more wrinkling and dryness on your tattoo, so aftercare cream is a must by now. When applying it, try not to use it in huge quantities, as it can oversaturate with the tattoo and lead to excess scabbing or premature scabbing fall off. You ought to follow the artist’s aftercare instructions for lotion application, but some tend to deviate from them depending on how dry the tattoo gets. As mentioned earlier, everyone has different skin and immune systems, so aftercare often comes down to listening to your own body.

tattoo heal cream



Day 6-7


As the tattoo gets dryer and more scabs appear, you will experience itching. The most important thing is not to give in! The satisfaction of the scratch will not be worth the damaged tattoo. As you scratch the surface of your tattoo, you might end up in a way extracting the ink out of your tattoo. 


Day 8-9


At this point, on top of the flakiness and itchiness, your tattoo will start to fade bit by bit as well. This is perfectly normal, and you should continue your routine as usual. Moisturizing is of utmost crucial importance when your tattoo is dry, so on top of your lotion application, drink lots of water!


Day 10-11


As the second week approaches its middle, you can now say that you have avoided infection with more confidence. As the tattoo heals more, the more it is unlikely for it to get infected. You may also notice more fading and fewer scabs. Though do not fray from your routine. Aftercare still is as vital as ever. 


Everyone heals differently. This guide is only for illustrative purposes for people to see what to expect. You should always listen to your artist and their prescribed routine instructions. If there are signs of infection (fever, pus in the area of the tattoo, redness, tenderness), you should not postpone contacting a medical professional.

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