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How Long Should a New Tattoo be Covered?

Imagine the day has come when you’re finally about to get your first tattoo. It’s a design you have wanted for years, or perhaps something you stumbled upon quite recently. Regardless, you’re super happy with your choice and absolutely can’t wait to get it inked on your body.

You prance about and head to the tattoo parlor, all excited for this new venture. The tattoo artist beautifully draws the tattoo on you, and you can’t seem to contain your joy. All of this sounds super wonderful, does it not?

There are, however, many steps to be followed once you get your tattoo done. So, what exactly comes next? A lot goes into the aftercare of a new tattoo, and if you want your tattoo to stay pretty, shiny, and retain itself on your skin for a long time, the aftercare process is extremely crucial.

Have you noticed how a tattoo artist puts a cover on a new tattoo? Ever wondered what that is and how it works? Why do they do this? And how long should you keep a tattoo covered? Fret not, for we are here to answer all your questions. Read on to find out everything about keeping your tattoo covered and more.

What Is a Tattoo Wrap?

What Is a Tattoo Wrap?
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If you’re getting a tattoo for the first time, you’re probably wondering what comes right after the tattoo is done. Once the tattoo artist is done with the design, the first thing they will do is clean the tattooed area using an antibacterial soap. This is to get rid of the blood and excess ink from the surface, post which they will apply a tattoo wrap or a tattoo bandage on the area.

What is a tattoo wrap, you ask? A tattoo wrap is something that is used to cover the newly tattooed area to control the oozing out of blood and ink that soon follows. Different materials are often used for this purpose, but a cling film or Saran wrap are the two most common options. These are basically a form of thin and transparent plastic film that can cover your new tattoo.

While some tattoo artists might ask you to keep the tattoo covered for 2-3 hours, some might also recommend keeping it on for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours. Although there isn’t a particular industry standard practice that is followed for this process, your tattoo artist will advise you regarding how long you should keep your tattoo covered.

In case you are someone who has had previous experiences with tattoos, you are already aware of what this tattoo wrap looks like and how it works. If this is your first tattoo, then just make sure you follow your tattoo artist’s advice on how long to keep it and how to remove it, and so on.

Bonus Read: How Long is it Advisable to Leave Saniderm on My New Tattoo?

Benefits of Keeping a Tattoo Covered

Benefits of Keeping a Tattoo Covered
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A new tattoo is essentially a fresh wound, and one of the main reasons to cover a new tattoo is to protect this wound from bacteria, germs, and viruses.

  •  A tattoo wrap creates a barrier between the wound and the infections that could be caused by germs and bacteria. Your tattoo will ooze and bleed once it’s done, and the wrap helps in keeping the bleeding and oozing in control.
  • After getting a new tattoo, sleeping could be tricky as you’re afraid your tattoo will get ruined. A tattoo wrap helps with this as well, as it allows you to sleep without letting your bedding and clothes get messy. It also prevents your tattoo from sticking to your sheets.
  • Any external physical impact that could harm your new tattoo is protected by the tattoo wrap, and this includes contact sports.
  • If you are required to wear clothes that cover the area of your new tattoo, the cling film protects your new tattoo from any elements on your clothes that could cause irritation. It allows you to heal better while saving your tattoo area from dust and injuries.

How Long Should You Keep a Tattoo Covered?

The duration for which you should keep your tattoo covered is something your tattoo artist can answer best. If it’s a tattoo you get sometime during the evening, the tattoo artist might ask you to keep it on overnight. In other cases, between two to three hours generally suffice. However, it isn’t always that easy to determine.

The question of how long to keep your tattoo covered depends on how much it’s bleeding and oozing, and also on the activities you’re performing during this period. For instance, if it is a new tattoo that is bleeding heavily, you must take the tattoo wrap off and wash the area. Post that; it’s better not to re-wrap the tattoo unless you plan on wearing tight clothes or sleeping soon after.

Follow the instructions given by your tattoo artist to ensure you give your tattoo the aftercare it needs. The time for which you should keep your tattoo covered depends on various factors, such as the type and size of the tattoo, where it’s placed, and also the methods and preferences of the one designing the tattoo.

Bonus Read: The Stages of the Tattoo Healing Process: Is This Normal!?

Here are some Things you might want to remember about wrapping your new tattoo:

  • Once your tattoo is done, keep the tattoo wrap on for a minimum of two to four hours. After that, take the tattoo wrap off, clean the area with water and an antibacterial soap, and tap it dry using a paper towel. Do not re-wrap it till bedtime.
  • For the next five days, keep the tattoo area covered while you sleep. During this time, the wound will begin to dry up and close. This reduces the risk of bleeding and the tattoo sticking to your sheets.
  • You do not have to rewrap a tattoo after the wound has healed and sealed completely. Just keep cleaning and moisturizing the tattoo area well.
  • If you have to rewrap your tattoo, go for medical-grade substances instead of Saran wrap or cling film, as the former are extra sanitary and hygienic.
  • Make use of either a muslin cloth or a sterile bandage to rewrap your tattoo during the first 24 hours.

How to Rewrap a Tattoo?

How to Rewrap a Tattoo?
Image source: inkedmag.com

Now that you know how long you should keep a tattoo covered, you might be wondering what happens when you need to rewrap your tattoo. Although the first wrapping on your tattoo is done by a professional tattoo artist, the re-wrapping is something you will have to handle on your own. So, how can it be done? Here’s how:

  • The ambiance where you rewrap your tattoo should be extremely sterile and clean. Although the environment of a tattoo studio is difficult to replicate, all you have to do is pick the cleanest room in your house.
  • Your hands should be thoroughly clean before you start rewrapping your tattoo. Make sure you wash them with soap that contains at least 60% alcohol. Keep washing for a minimum of 20 seconds while putting a thorough focus on the nails and fingers. Don’t forget the space between your fingers, too.
  • After you have properly washed your hands, touch nothing else apart from your tattoo.
  • Clean the tattoo using lukewarm water and a soap that is antibacterial and free of any fragrance. Post washing the tattoo area, use a paper towel to gently pat it dry. Let it air dry after that.
  • After the tattoo is clean and dry, reach for the wrap and make sure it’s breathable. Put it carefully on the tattoo, ensuring that it covers the entire tattooed area. The adhesive should stick on the area of your skin that surrounds the tattoo and not on the tattoo itself.
  • You might have to keep the tattoo re-wrapped either for a couple of hours or through the night. Repeat the process of washing and drying post removing the tattoo wrap again.

Bonus Read: 6 Best Tattoo Aftercare Products 2022.

How to Look After a New Tattoo?

With the wrapping and re-wrapping of the tattoo sorted, the next thing you need to know about is how to take care of a tattoo. Depending on the size and type of your tattoo, the aftercare will differ accordingly. Listed below are some things to keep in mind right after you get inked:

Avoid Sun Exposure

Avoid Sun Exposure
Image source: medicalnewstoday.com

Try to avoid exposing your new tattoo to the sun as much as possible. We know that you might have to venture out for work or school or other important reasons, but attempt to conceal it from direct sun exposure. If you absolutely have to step out, apply some sunscreen with a high amount of SPF on the tattooed area.

Don’t Scratch Your Tattoo

Don’t Scratch Your Tattoo
Image source: healthline.com

As your tattoo heals, you will experience a tingling or slightly irritating feeling that might make you want to scratch your tattoo, peel it, or rub it. However, avoid doing all of these as they will not only cause infections but also damage the design of your new tattoo. Let the tattoo heal naturally.

Stay Away from Tight Clothes

During the period of healing, stay away from tight-fitted clothes. While the rest of your body can be draped with clothes of any fitting, the tattoo area should either be kept uncovered or covered with loose clothing. This is because the area needs to breathe, and you wouldn’t want a cloth’s material to infect the tattoo or ruin it.

Avoid Swimming and Rigorous Exercise

Avoid Swimming and Rigorous Exercise
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Exposing your tattooed area to too much water can cause significant damage. The chlorine present in swimming pools and the external agents from the bodies of other people using the pool are not good for a new tattoo. Hence, swimming should be avoided while your tattoo heals.

Additionally, don’t engage in rigorous exercise or any form of strenuous physical activity while your tattoo is trying to heal. Sweating in the inked region will only invite infections, which is something you should strictly avoid.

Don’t Overtreat

There is definitely such a thing as overtreating a new tattoo, and it should be avoided at all costs. Some people think that applying a ointment or moisturizer over a new tattoo will allow it to heal quicker, but that isn’t the case at all. In fact, overtreating is often the cause of infections. So, keep the aftercare in moderation.

Pause the Shaving

Most tattoos heal within two weeks, but some might take longer. During this time, don’t shave over the tattooed area. Healing entails that scabs will form on the inked area and fall off, and you should definitely not shave over such an area. Just treat it like how you would treat a wound, and keep the razor away till the area is fully healed.


What is used to cover a new tattoo?

A new tattoo is usually covered using a cling film or Saran wrap.

Why do tattoo artists cover a new tattoo?

Tattoo artists cover a new tattoo because as soon as they are done drawing a tattoo, blood or ink often leaks from the tattooed area. A tattoo wrap helps in controlling the bleeding and stops the tattoo from getting ruined or infected.

How long should I cover my new tattoo?

The question of how long to keep a tattoo covered can be best answered by your tattoo artist. Depending on the size and type of your tattoo, you can either keep it covered for about three hours or extend it to 12 hours or so, as per the advice of your tattoo artist.

Can I go swimming after a new tattoo?

It is best to avoid swimming till your tattoo is healed, as the activity could cause infections to your tattoo.

How long should I keep a tattoo rewrapped?

After you get a tattoo, keep it rewrapped for about five days if you have to, especially during bedtime.

What happens to the tattoo wrap if I get a tattoo at night?

If you get a tattoo in the evening or night, it’s best to keep the tattoo wrapped overnight, or else the ink or blood could stain your bedsheets.

What if I keep my tattoo wrapped for too long?

Keeping a tattoo wrapped for too long can lead to infections. So, keep it wrapped only for the advised timeframe.


A tattoo is an open wound that needs a lot of care and patience. If not looked after properly, the area can get infected, thereby not only causing issues to your skin but also damaging your tattoo in the process.

One of the main things to do after the design is tattooed on your skin is to cover it up properly. As mentioned in the article, different factors decide how long a tattoo wrap should be kept on. Listen to your tattoo artist’s advice and go through this article to get all the helpful information you require.

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!