Home » How Long Does it Take For A Tattoo to Heal?

How Long Does it Take For A Tattoo to Heal?

The decision to get a tattoo is just the first step in the process because the real work begins only after the decision has been made. While you might be eager to show off your new tattoo, there’s a lot that goes into the aftercare of a tattoo that we must remember to be completely healed.

Did you know that your new tattoo should be kept away from factors such as excessive water and sun exposure in the first few weeks? Or that a tattoo doesn’t heal completely even when the top layer appears fresh and shiny? There are multiple things you should look into before deciding on the design of your tattoo.

If you’ve made up your mind, there are probably many questions you wish to ask, such as how long does it take for a tattoo to heal, how to take care of a tattoo, and so on. Well, you’ve come to the right place because we’re here to guide you through the whole process, from the healing to the aftercare.

What Does the Tattoo Healing Process Look Like?

What Does the Tattoo Healing Process Look Like
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You’re probably wondering yourself, “How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?” There are various stages involved in the tattoo healing process. Let us tell you what those stages are:

1. Open Wound

The first week after you get your tattoo is the first stage of the healing of your tattoo. Although we may not realize it, our body initiates the healing process as soon as we get the tattoo. Since a tattoo is an open wound, the repair of the damage is initiated quite instantly.

During this period, you might experience a burning or tingling sensation, which results from the tattoo area displaying inflammation. This is due to our body working to repair the wound and prevent it from getting infected. The burning sensation subsides after a week, before which your tattoo site will appear red and oozy.

2. Peeling And Itching

Peeling and Itching
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As you move into the second week after getting your tattoo, you will notice that the tingling feeling has been replaced by itching, as is the case with any other wound. There’s scabbing on the old wound at this point, causing it to flake off and be replaced by a fresh layer of skin.

If you’re wondering what causes the itching sensation, then let us tell you that it’s because of the dryness in that region of the skin. As it’s quite tempting to itch and scratch and scrape off the flakes, you might wonder how long does it take for a tattoo to heal? However, you should absolutely avoid doing this at all costs. Instead, moisturize your skin well during this time.

3. Drying Out and Slow Healing

Once the tattoo slowly starts to heal, the itchy feeling will fade away. This is when your skin will begin to dry out, and it could also happen that a layer of dry skin will conceal the tattoo after the scabs have disappeared. You might notice the color of the tattoo appearing dull at this time, but that is mended quite quickly, revealing the original hue of the design.

4. Complete Healing

Complete Healing
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We now come to the final stage in the tattoo healing process, which is when complete healing takes place. The dryness and the scabs go away, giving birth to new skins. At this stage, your new tattoo appears dark and prominent, and there are no longer itches or burns on the tattooed area.

How to Take Care of a New Tattoo?

How to Take Care of a New Tattoo
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The aftercare of a new tattoo is extremely crucial as it aids in the healing of the tattoo, enabling its color to stay vibrant. We’ve listed below some tips to remember to take care of your new tattoo:

  • After your tattoo is complete, your tattoo artist will clean the area, apply an ointment on it, and then proceed to cover it either with plastic or a bandage. Don’t open the bandage soon after stepping out of the tattoo parlor. Keep it on for at least 2-3 hours. Ask your tattoo artist when they think you should remove the covering, and remember to not keep it on for longer than suggested cause it could lead to infections, or the ink might also bleed.
  • Before you remove the bandage from the tattoo, make sure you wash your hands carefully and thoroughly before you touch your tattoo. Applying warm water to the bandage can be a good idea as it prevents it from becoming sticky. Pull off the bandage slowly and throw it away.
  • Don’t soak your tattoo in water immediately after removing the bandage. Instead, make use of lukewarm water and some liquid antibacterial soap. Be very gentle while rubbing the tattoo, making sure to remove all the tiny bits of plasma, blood, and even leaked ink. When done well and gently, it hinders scabbing.
  • Using a loofah or washcloth on the tattoo is a no-no since these might contain bacteria. Use these items on your tattoo only once it’s completely healed. Be sure to not run water directly on the tattoo either as it could be too harsh on the wound.
  •  After washing your new tattoo, it’s time to let it air dry. Another alternative is to use a dry and clean paper towel to blot over the tattoo till it’s dry. Don’t use a regular towel as it can cause irritation.
  • Invest in a non-scented antibacterial moisturizer to apply over your tattoo once it’s dry. Don’t apply it too thickly, and pat it till it gets fully absorbed. You can ask your tattoo artist as to which ointment will be best suited for you. Don’t rewrap the tattoo after cleaning and moisturizing it.
  • An important aftercare tip for a new tattoo is to ask for advice from your tattoo artist, as they will be able to guide you efficiently depending on the kind of tattoo you get. In fact, different tattoo artists wrap a tattoo differently; therefore, pay attention to their advice as it can aid in quicker healing of your tattoo.
  • For the first 3-4 days after getting the tattoo, wash it about 2-3 times every day with lukewarm water and antibacterial soap. Make sure to moisturize your tattoo with lotion on a daily basis till the scabs disappear. Apply a thin layer, and don’t overcoat it with lotion.
  •  An imperative point to keep in mind is that avoid scratching your tattoo as it heals. The scabs will dry out and fall eventually, but if you pick at your tattoo, the scabs will fall off sooner, which is a bad thing as it could leave light spots on your new tattoo. If that area of your skin feels itchy, apply the ointment to it.
  • Keep your tattoo away from direct sunlight for the first couple of weeks while it’s healing. It’s because sunlight could lighten the color of your tattoo and cause blisters. After your new tattoo is healed, do apply sunscreen on top of it, as this will save it from fading.
  •   Water is another element you need to keep your tattoo away from as it heals. This entails avoiding swimming or even sitting in a bathtub. If the new tattoo gets exposed to water, the ink might just fade off, damaging your tattoo. There could also be chemicals and bacteria present in the water that could cause infections to the tattoo.
  • Till your tattoo heals, you should stick to loose-fitted clothes to prevent any irritation in the tattoo region. Also, make sure your clothes are clean and don’t rub any dirt or bacteria on your tattoo. There could be excess ink or plasma from your tattoo that could cling to your clothes if they’re too tight, and we definitely don’t want that to happen.
  • Clothes that are difficult to take off might just end up ruining your tattoo. Tight clothes block the flow of oxygen to your tattoo, and oxygen is very crucial in the healing process of the tattoo.
  • Exhausting physical activities should be avoided while your tattoo heals, which includes not working out during this period. If your skin moves around too much while your tattoo is healing, it could cause irritation and prolong the healing journey.

Bonus Read: How to Clean a Tattoo? | Properly Care for Fresh and New Ones.

Factors That Affect the Tattoo Healing Process

Tattoos can take a while to heal, depending on the design and the aftercare we devote. There are, however, certain factors that can affect and delay the tattoo healing process if you’re not careful. We’re here to walk you through those factors:

1. Covering The Tattoo For Too Long

Covering the Tattoo for Too Long
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Any tattoo artist will advise you to keep your new tattoo wrapped for a certain duration. If you keep it wrapped for longer than the said duration, it can be detrimental to your tattoo. You can see plasma and blood beneath the bandage after the tattoo has been under wraps for a while, and this is an indication to take the bandage or plastic off, or else your skin won’t be able to breathe.

2. Sleeping in a Wrong Way

Sleeping in a Wrong Way
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Before your tattoo completely heals, you need to be very careful about how you sleep. Never sleep on the tattoo, and don’t cover it under blankets or sheets, as you never know the germs harboring under them. You can choose to put a clean towel on your bed and lay on top of it till your tattoo heals.

3. Excessive Water Usage

Excessive Water Usage
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While keeping a new tattoo clean is super important, make sure you don’t use too much water on it or submerge it under water. If your tattoo comes in contact with excess water, there are high chances of it getting damaged.

4. Infections

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The reason tattoo artists wrap a bandage over a new tattoo is to prevent it from getting infected, which is why post-tattoo wrapping is so important. Clean your skin and carefully follow the aftercare procedure to stop any infections from reaching your tattoo. If germs or dirt come in contact with your tattoo, it could get infected, thereby destroying it.

5. Scratching or Picking

Scratching or Picking
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Feeling itchy is natural after getting a tattoo, but no matter how tempting it is, don’t give in to the urge to scratch it or pick on it. Peeling your skin in such a situation could ruin the lines and colors of your tattoo. And to calm the itchy sensation, use efficient aftercare products such as an antibacterial ointment or moisturizer. Apply a thin layer of this moisturizer to the tattoo region to prevent it from getting dry.

6. High Sun Exposure

Direct sun exposure can ruin any new tattoo. Even if you go outside, keep your tattoo well-covered at least for the first 30-40 days, so ensure to cover the area with your clothes. Don’t apply sunscreen on a fresh tattoo, but do apply it once the tattoo is healed to keep it protected from the harmful UV rays.


The time it takes for a tattoo to heal not only depends on external factors but also on how you look after your tattoo after getting it done. In order for proper tattoo healing to take place, it’s pivotal to follow the aftercare routine efficiently. So, remember the tips mentioned above and let your tattoo heal successfully.

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!