After getting a tattoo, it’s important to let your skin heal and the tattoo to set. Will swimming affect the tattoo? How long after getting a tattoo can you swim?
According to tattoo guidelines, you should wait for 2 to 4 weeks before swimming in a pool or ocean to allow the skin to heal. Your fresh tattoo is an open wound and needs to be cared for like a wound.
When your tattoo is fresh, it must be kept dry as much as possible. Stay away from oceans, seas, rivers, swimming pools, jacuzzis, and other places, where it will be submerged in water.
Your skin softens and wrinkles in the water. The water also has bacteria in it. These things can damage the tattoo if it hasn’t fully healed.
You can shower 24 hours after getting a tattoo with lukewarm water and a gentle stream or splash. However, submerging the tattoo in water, such as swimming, can damage the tattoo. Therefore, you should avoid swimming for at least 2 to 4 weeks.
Read on to learn more about swimming after getting a tattoo – how long you need to wait and why you need to wait that long.
How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Swim?
Tattoo artists recommend that you do not swim for about 2 to 4 weeks after getting a tattoo. To be absolutely sure your tattoo will set and your skin will heal, wait 4 weeks before swimming.
Consider a new tattoo as an open wound. It will need time to heal completely before you can jump in the water. And it doesn’t matter if it’s in the ocean, a lake, a pool, or even a hot tub. The point is to fully avoid submerging the tattoo in water.
After getting a tattoo, the tattoo artist will cover it with a bandage. You may remove the bandage when the tattoo stops bleeding – maybe after 4 to 5 hours.
You can wash off any blood and ink that’s left on your skin. Use antibacterial soap and gently wash with your hands. Apply or spray antiseptic solution, let it air dry, and then apply antibacterial ointment or cream that was recommended by the tattoo artist.
The tattoo will slowly heal, and scabbing will happen over time. Gradually, your scabs will fall off, and a new layer of skin will form. By this time, your wound is already healed, and it will be okay to go for a swim. To be really certain, go the whole 4 weeks without getting your tattoo wet.
If you’re going to take a shower, try to keep the tattoo area sealed off by covering it with plastic or waterproof band-aids so that it does not get infected. Follow the instructions of your tattoo artist, and keep using antibacterial ointment or cream.
Why You Can’t Swim When You Have a New Tattoo
We said that a tattoo must be considered an open wound. The reason is that it is susceptible to bacterial infections that may lead to complications.
Salt water and fresh water both contain microorganisms and bacteria. Pools and jacuzzis harbor bacteria too. When you go for a dip with a fresh tattoo, bacteria can easily enter your body through the wound and cause an infection. The infection can spread in your body, and if it reaches your bloodstream, a major infection can occur. This can be dangerous and even life-threatening.
While swimming pools usually have chlorinated water, and chlorine kills most bacteria, you should still avoid them. Chlorine is a chemical that can irritate the skin area where you got your fresh tattoo. Aside from irritation, it can cause redness and itching too. This irritation can then lead to an infection.
Can You Waterproof a Tattoo?
The ideal thing is to really keep the fresh tattoo dry at all times until it is fully healed. But, that may not all be possible – you’ll have to shower, right? And you really can’t avoid moisture, like sweat. Just try to avoid activities that will make you sweat hard, like working out or going to the gym, at least for the first two weeks. Your sweat can actually carry microorganisms and bacteria to the tattoo.
If there’s no way you can avoid getting your tattoo wet, the best way to protect it is by covering it with a waterproof bandage or plastic wrap. And if it has gone beyond a week, you can apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly and then cover it with plastic wrap.
After getting your tattoo wet:
- Remove the waterproof bandage or plastic wrap, gently wash it with soap and water, and then let it air dry.
- Do not wipe dry with a cloth.
- Continue applying antibacterial ointment or cream for the entire four weeks.
New Tattoo Care Tips
Tattoo aftercare is just as important as planning your tattoo design and the actual tattoo inking. It’s vital to properly take care of your tattoo while it is healing. Here are a few tips on caring for a new tattoo.
1. Follow What Your Tattoo Artist Tells You to Do
Your tattoo artist will tell you what to do exactly and give you an antibacterial cream to use after getting your tattoo. Different tattoo artists will give various advice, but they will all be somewhat the same. Listen to what they tell you to do and follow it to the letter.
2. Wash Your Tattoo Gently about 2 to 6 Hours After Getting It
Right after getting your tattoo, it will be covered with a bandage or gauze. Remove the covering, and then with antibacterial soap and lukewarm water, gently wash the area with your hands. Do not use a washcloth. Using one will wash away any crusted blood on the area.
3. Apply the Antibacterial Cream Given by Your Tattoo Artist
If your tattoo won’t be exposed to harsh elements, you may leave it uncovered. However, if you think you need to cover it to protect it from getting dirty, you can do so with gauze, waterproof bandage, or cling wrap. Most tattoo artists will recommend cleaning the tattoo site anywhere from 3 to 5 times a day.
4. Always Keep the Tattoo Dry and Clean
Only get it wet when you shower. Avoid taking baths for 4 weeks so that it doesn’t get submerged in water. Moreover, avoid wearing clothes that will rub against your tattoo.
5. Do Not Scratch It No Matter How Itchy It Gets
As your tattoo heals, it will form scabs and can get flaky. Do not scratch or pick at it. Yes, it may get itchy, but you must not scratch. You may lightly tap or slap it to relieve the itchy feeling.
For two to four weeks, the itchiness may go on. If it bleeds for over a day, seems slightly red or raised, or if it feels like it’s burning or hot to the touch, seek medical advice as it may be infected. Tattoos rarely get infected if they are cleaned properly, so make sure you follow all directions properly.
6. Stay Away from Direct Sunlight
Try not to expose your new tattoo to direct sunlight. When your tattoo heals, always apply a high SPF lotion or cream so that it is protected from the sun. Direct sunlight can make your tattoo fade faster than normal.
7. Be Patient
It will pay off. Of course, the size of your tattoo will be a factor in healing time. The larger it is, the slower it will heal. Small tattoos can heal in a week or two, and large ones can go anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. If you listen and follow your tattoo artist’s instructions, there should be no problem with the healing process. Be patient; it will pay off.
8. Get Tattoo Touch-ups When Needed
Sometimes, a tattoo will lose ink in the first weeks after getting it. When this happens, go back to your tattoo studio and get a touch-up. Good tattoo studios will fix your tattoo for free.
How long after getting a tattoo can you go swimming? Specifically, how long do you have to wait to swim after getting a tattoo? After getting a tattoo, you need to wait about 2 to 4 weeks before swimming. This is the length of time it takes for the tattoo to fully heal.
Your skin softens and wrinkles in the water. The water also has bacteria in it. This is why you should wait about 4 weeks for the tattoo to fully heal.
How long after getting a tattoo can you shower? You can shower 24 hours after getting a tattoo with lukewarm water and a gentle stream or splash. However, submerging the tattoo in water, such as swimming, can damage the tattoo. So avoid swimming for at least 2 to 4 weeks.
Below are daily tips to follow to ensure your tattoo sets and your skin heals quickly.
Daily Care for Your Tatoo
After getting your tattoo, you’ll have a bandage over your ink. After 4 to 6 hours, the bandage can be removed. There will be a little blood or fluid oozing from the tattoo site. The slightly yellowish fluid is plasma. Some extra ink may also ooze out.
It may still sting a little, and the skin on the tattoo site and around it may be red and sore. Also, it may feel warm to the touch. All of this is normal on day 1. Follow your tattoo artist’s instructions properly too.
Days 2 and 3
Your tattoo should have stopped bleeding by now, although it may still feel a little warm to the touch. The tattoo should also appear duller by this time. Your skin is already starting to heal, and scabs will start to form. Do not pick at it or scratch it.
Wash and clean the tattoo site once or twice a day with antibacterial soap and warm water. Apply the cream given by your tattoo artist. These days, you might have excess ink running from the tattoo site when you wash it. That’s normal.
Days 4 to 6
By day 4 or 5, the tattoo site should not be red anymore. You’ll have scabs that are raised but do not pick on them. The skin under the scabs is still raw and when you pick on them, it will bleed again. Keep applying the cream. Continue cleaning the tattoo once or twice a day.
Days 6 to 14
Your scabs will start to fall off now. Again, do not pick on them. They will fall off naturally. Picking on them or pulling them off may damage the tattoo design. It may also scar if you pick on them.
This is also the time that they will really start to itch. But do not scratch. Scratching could lead to infection and may damage the design. Your tattoo should have no redness at all at this point. If it is still red or looks like it is irritated, see a doctor.
Days 15 to 30
This is the final stage of healing. If your tattoo is a small one, it will be almost completely healed at this point. The scabs should be minimal by now, and the big flakes should have fallen off. It will look dull and dry, but it will look better when the 4 weeks are done.
By weeks three and four, the outer skin layer would have fully healed. The tattoo will look brighter after 2 or 3 months because by then, the inner layer of the skin would have healed too.
What to Consider Before Getting a Tattoo
You need to consider some things before getting a tattoo, more so if it’s your first one.
- Start with a small tattoo. Work your way up to bigger ones slowly.
- Check your tolerance for pain. The most sensitive parts of the body for tattoos are the ribs, elbow, back of knees, and groin area.
- Don’t be cheap with getting a tattoo. Go to a reputable tattoo studio with good reviews. They are usually more expensive, but hey, you’re putting ink on your body that will last a lifetime. Don’t scrimp.
- Schedule it. A new tattoo must not be submerged in water within 2 to 4 weeks and must not be exposed to direct sunlight. Summer may be a good time to show off a new tattoo, but getting a new one will be best before or after summer.
Conclusion – How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can I Swim?
You must wait about 2 to 4 weeks after getting a tattoo before you swim. This will ensure the tattoo heals fully.
Oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, and swimming pools all harbor bacteria. This bacteria can affect your tattoo. Also, when you swim, your skin softens and wrinkles which will affect the tattoo.
Consider a fresh tattoo like it is an open wound. You need it completely healed before swimming or submerging it in water. The healing process could take approximately 2 to 4 weeks.
Yes, I know, the new ink probably looks really good, and you want the world to see. But hold off for 2 to 4 weeks to avoid the risk of infection.