Home » How Long After a Tattoo Can You Swim? 4 Facts You Should Know

How Long After a Tattoo Can You Swim? 4 Facts You Should Know

To all those tattoo lovers out there, are you planning to get yourself a new tattoo? Getting a tattoo is no longer something new these days, as almost everyone around us is either getting a tattoo or planning to get one.

Tattoos can speak a lot about your taste in art and your personality and can also speak about your inner thoughts and your desires. Tattoos can also give you a stylish and elegant appearance. This is a primary reason behind people flaunting tattoos these days.

However, simply getting yourself tattooed is not enough, as you need to take care of quite a few things while you get your tattoo. One such thing is swimming. You cannot go swimming right after you get yourself tattooed as it can have a lot of complications.

It can cause instant damage to the tattoo. In worst-case scenarios, you may get infected. This infection may reach your bloodstream and cause you a lot of damage. In certain situations, flesh-eating bacteria in the pool water may also attack the skin, which is left exposed after tattooing. This is again a major cause of worry. So, you should know how long after a tattoo can you swim.

Well, because of the various risk factors involved in going to swim after getting a tattoo, many people are discouraged from getting tattooed during the summer. They prefer to get themselves tattooed to not have to attend pool parties and go to the beaches.

However, there are a lot of tattoo artists who have conflicting opinions on these matters. They feel that there are different ways by which you can protect your tattoo and go for a swim.

We all agree that going swimming immediately after getting yourself tattooed is not a good idea. So, here we will talk to you about the healing time of a tattoo and the potential risks involved in going swimming right after getting a tattoo.

There are various healing stages of a tattoo, and this post covers interesting information related to them. This will help you understand whether it would be an appropriate idea for you to go swimming after getting inked.

Can You Go Swimming Right After Getting Yourself Tattooed?

Can You Go Swimming Right After Getting Yourself Tattooed?
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The answer to this is no. Your tattoo artist may cover your tattoo with a special waterproof patch and then apply a bandage to prevent soaking or sweating of the tattoo. Aftercare of the tattoo can be challenging, especially if you are a beginner and do not have much idea about the healing process of tattoos. We have explained here why you need to hold back from swimming sooner after getting inked on your body and how long after tattooing you can go swimming.

1. Damage by Full-fledged Bath

It is also recommended that you only take light showers and not a full-fledged bath right after getting your tattoo. Most tattoo artists fear that it does not support the healing process when you soak your tattoo with water. Also, swimming is a big no-no, involving submerging your entire body in water. This can be bad for the tattoo.

2. Slow Healing

Slow Healing
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The healing routine is a really difficult and strict one, and you need to make sure that the wound remains dry at all times. This is going to trigger the healing procedure. You may also take advice from tattoo artists and experts regarding how to take good care of the tattoo.

For example, tattoo artists will advise you to use certain cosmetic products and ointments to help heal wounds. This will also prevent the tattoo area from getting dry, which may otherwise cause damage to the tattoo.

3. Threat of Bacterial Attack

The risk of swimming while your tattoo is still in the healing process is large. It may also cause fading of the tattoo. Sometimes, bacterial infections may occur that may compromise your health.

You need to understand that when you are getting yourself tattooed, a needle will make stings on the outer layer of the skin. Those areas of the skin are left completely open. This exposes the skin to bacterial attacks. Other microorganisms may also enter your bloodstream through the open pores and become the source of infection.

4. Seawater

chlorine and other materials found in swimming pools can further spread the infection, and at times, it may also become life-threatening.

The Complete Tattoo Healing Process

The Complete Tattoo Healing Process
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A small and subtle tattoo may take around four weeks to heal completely. However, larger and more elaborate tattoos may sometimes require two to three months to heal. It may even take up to a year to get healed if any complication arises during the process. Therefore, when it comes to going for a swim, it is not recommended that you go swimming as long as the tattoo is not healed.

As we have already discussed, different tattoo artists have different opinions about going to swim after getting yourself inked. That is why it is always better to get in touch with an experienced tattoo artist before you hit the pool once again. First, let us see how the tattoo naturally heals itself after a certain time duration.

1. After One Week

The small wounds made by the needle are still completely fresh, and you will likely require a patch or a bandage. Sometimes, special ointments may also be applied to the tattoo so that the tattoo area does not get too dry.

You must make it a point to get your tattoo washed properly at least twice a week. This should be done with antimicrobial soap and water to ensure that the wound remains clean and sterilized.

Don’t go swimming after one week of getting inked. This will make sure that the tattoo does not get soaked in water. You may, however, take light showers to keep yourself clean and tidy.

2. After Two Weeks

After Two Weeks
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After two weeks, your tattoo will start to heal much more quickly. However, you may notice some scabbing at the site of the wound. The swelling process and the pain may not be as persistent as during the first week.

Another thing is that you may also start taking your bath without getting the tattoo covered but make sure that you do not submit the tattoo. Some tattoo artists may suggest that it is quite safe for you to go swimming after two weeks of getting your tattoo, but it completely depends on the healing process.

In some cases, the tattoo gets healed up almost completely during the first two weeks, but in most cases, the tattoo wound may still not get healed completely from the inside. So, soaking the tattoo in water would still not be safe, but even if you have to swim, then it is a better idea to wrap the tattoo with a waterproof patch or a bandage and then go swimming.

3. After One Month

In 90% of the cases, the tattoo will completely heal after one month. If your tattoo artist had previously advised you not to swim, it should be safe now, but you should still make it a point to visit the tattoo studio and confirm whether everything is in order. Only after that you should go for a swim.

After a month, you will not have to cover your tattoo with a waterproof bandage or patch while going for a bath. You will also be prepared to submerge your body, but make it a point to apply proper ointment, so that the salt and chlorine present in the water does not cause any kind of damage to the wound.

You should plan how you care for the tattoo after swimming. This will help you lower the risk of infections. Also, if you feel discomfort after swimming, this must be reported to the tattoo artist immediately.

Why Should You Not Swim After Getting Yourself Tattooed?

Why Should You Not Swim After Getting Yourself Tattooed?
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When you go swimming just after getting yourself inked, your skin will absorb the water of the pond or the lake just as if it was a piece of cloth. When you get yourself inked, there are a lot of micro-injuries that will allow the chlorinated water to enter the skin. In other cases, water and chlorine may get deposited on the skin and cause the tattoo to fade away gradually.

The water will contain salt, chlorine, and other bacteria, which may cause the site to get infected. In some cases, the bacteria may also start breeding in the wound. This breeding is the reason bacteria enter the bloodstream. This can poison your blood and lead to severe consequences.

Many people who go swimming may have to get themselves inked once again to prevent fading of the tattoo. We have listed some of the main reasons it is always better not to go swimming right after getting your tattoo.

1. Increased Chances of Skin Infection

One of the major reasons you should not try to submerge your tattoo underwater is infection. When you submerge a tattoo completely under the water, you expose your skin to a wide variety of bacteria and other microorganisms that might be present in the water. The bacteria will enter your bloodstream through the wound and cause infection.

The kind of infection affecting you will depend on the type of water where you decide to take the same. In serious cases, sepsis and even death may occur. So, try to avoid swimming pool water right after getting your tattoo.

And even if you go, you must also ensure that the water you go swimming in is not heavily chlorinated, as bacteria thrive well in chlorinated water.

2. Rashes and Skin Irritation

Rashes and Skin Irritation

Sometimes, right after you go swimming, you start experiencing skin irritation. Red rashes may also appear in areas around the tattoo. These rashes may also sometimes spread to other areas of the skin, causing a lot of irritation. Also, a tattoo that has been newly inked is sensitive.

You will experience skin disorders like dermatitis if you expose your tattoo to chemicals like chlorine. This mainly happens when the chlorine penetrates through the screen and mixes with the blood. It also causes inflammation of the underlying issues causing you a lot of pain. In serious cases, swelling and blistering may also occur at the tattoo site.

3. Fading Away From the Tattoo

Soaking a tattoo in chlorinated water can gradually cause the tattoo to fade away. You may also observe discoloration of the tattoo. This mainly occurs when you get a colored tattoo for yourself.

Chlorine and seawater can be harsh to the skin. They can gradually remove the ink from the tattoo, and the color will become a lot less vibrant than it was before. Further, it can cause scabbing of the tattoo while swimming and make your skin dry.

Chlorinated water can prolong the healing process. The tattoo lines will get blurred with regular swimming, and a time will come when you will find it necessary to get yourself inked all over again. This will not only cause a lot of pain but will also lead to the wastage of a lot of money.

4. Intense Pain

Getting a fresh new tattoo involves a lot of pain. No matter which clinic you go to and how much money you pay for your tattoo, you just won’t be able to get yourself away without experiencing any amount of pain.

Though the tattoo artist may apply the numbing agent on the skin, you do end up experiencing some pain, and the pain is further triggered when you go swimming right after getting tattooed.

The pain is a result of infection, inflammation, or swelling. The chlorinated water can also cause a burning sensation on the skin, making you uncomfortable. So, it is the best decision to go swimming after you are 100% sure that your tattoo is dry and is healed completely.

How Do You Waterproof Your Tattoo For Swimming?

How Do You Waterproof Your Tattoo For Swimming?
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If a month has already passed and you feel that your tattoo has been completely healed, you can consider yourself prepared to go swimming. However, simply plunging into the water is not enough. There are certain precautions that you should take before you go swimming. For example, you can apply some ointments to keep the water away from the wound. You can also try wrapping a waterproof bandage around the tattoo and then go swimming. Before going swimming, make sure to do some simple things.

1. Cover the Tattoo Properly

It is a really good idea to cover it properly so that it does not come in direct contact with chlorinated water. Covering the tattoo will protect the exposed skin from any kind of damage. You will also not become vulnerable to rashes and allergies. However, the type of material you choose for covering your tattoo also requires significant consideration.

Simply covering the tattoo with anything you want is not enough. First, make sure that the material is completely sterilized. You can also try using a waterproof material like a plastic wrap to seal the tattoo from water. You will also find special waterproof materials available in the market that is specially meant for keeping the tattoo away from water.

2. Apply Sunscreen on the Tattoo Area

Apply Sunscreen on the Tattoo Area
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It is not just water that can cause damage to the skin while you go swimming. The sun is equally dangerous for the tattoo. So, it is good to apply good quality sunscreen to the skin before going swimming in the pool. Also, sunscreen may not last for long. So, apply it after every one or two hours.

The sunscreen should also have high SPF so that the skin remains well protected from harmful ultraviolet radiation. This will also prevent rashes, irritation, and sunburn. Also, try going swimming during the evenings when the sun rays are not strong enough. This can be another effective way to remain protected from the sun while swimming in the water.

3. Always Wear Loose Pieces of Clothing While Swimming

When you go swimming after getting inked, you should try wearing loose and waterproof clothes to keep your tattoo protected and prevent it from coming in direct contact with water. Loose clothes will also not directly stick to the skin where you have been tattooed, which will give you a comfortable feel.

You may also try getting a specialized swimming costume for swimming. Again, this is a way of keeping yourself safe yet enjoying swimming after getting a tattoo.

4. Do Not Stay in the Water for Hours

Do Not Stay in the Water for Hours
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You should restrict your swimming time right after getting a tattoo. It is also better to take short breaks in between while you are swimming. At a time, avoid swimming for not more than 30 minutes. You should also try to apply sunscreen after frequent intervals to prevent further damage. You may also ensure that the tattoo remains dry during the swimming process. This is again going to reduce the chances of infection.

5. Clean The Tattoo Carefully After Swimming

Right after swimming, you should ensure that your tattoo is cleaned properly. This will remove any bacteria that might be present on the skin. It will also help the skin get rid of the chlorine content deposited on the tattoo.

Cleaning the tattoo with a good quality antimicrobial soap and warm water can work well for you. There are cleansers available in the market that are meant for cleaning the tattoo. You can use such cleansers as well. Also, make sure that your hands are totally clean while cleaning the tattoo area as it might cause infection.


So, try to ensure that you wait for a while before swimming after getting inked. To know further about getting tattooed, read our further posts and ensure your tattoo is safe.

About Author

Jonathan Corby "Jonny" is a guy who is passionate about Tattooing and successfully running a Tattoo Studio in NY. Through my journey as a Tattoo Artist I have made unforgettable memories. This irrational poetry and sense of freedom of art on skin has given a blissfull experience to my life. Each Tattoo has a story behind it; Lets share one!