Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Properly taking care of a new tattoo is crucial to prevent scabbing, loss of color and detail, scarring, and infection. When it comes to healing a new tattoo, every tattoo artist has the best intentions. However, new tattoo care methods for optimal healing can vary drastically from artist to artist. For this reason, we want to offer up our own tried-and-true guide to healing tattoos using a medical-grade dermal bandage, like Saniderm.
While getting tattooed, the tattoo needle punctures the skin between 50 and 3,000 times per minute. The needle enters the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and delivers the ink into the central layer of skin (dermis). It can be easy to forget, but this new piece of art is actually an open wound and must be treated as such. This means that it’s critical to keep dirt, debris, and bacteria out.

Saniderm Pre-Application Instructions

Before applying Saniderm, be sure that the skin around the tattoo has also been shaved. Removing a bandage from hair may be unpleasant.

Clean and dry the area. It is suggested to use antibacterial soap or at least plain, unscented soap like Dial handsoap. Do not clean a fresh tattoo with products containing isopropyl alcohol or glycerin. Isopropyl alcohol will certainly kill any bacteria in the area, but it will also kill all of your body’s own healing elements in the process. This will cause the wound to dry out under the bandage when it’s applied.

Saniderm Application

  1. Cut and trim Saniderm to fit around the tattoo – include an extra inch around all sides. TIP: Cutting the edges of the bandage to be round will help it adhere better and feel more comfortable. 
  2. Peel the white paper wrapping from the sticky side first and place gently over the tattoo.
  3. Once the adhesive side of the bandage is in place, remove the see-through second layer from the top side and smooth the bandage over the tattoo.
  4. Apply body heat from your hand(s) to melt the adhesive to your skin.
  5. Keep the first applied bandage on for anywhere from 3 hours to 5 days (3-5 days is suggested), depending on how much the wound is weeping. It’s fine if there is some plasma/blood/lymph fluid buildup under the bandage during this period. Replace as needed.

Removing the Tattoo Aftercare Bandage and Cleaning the Tattoo

Before touching your new tattoo for any purpose, it’s important to make sure your hands are clean. Wash them thoroughly for at least 20 seconds. You’ll also want to be prepared with your soap (unscented, antibacterial) and clean towel, lotion or balm, and (if needed) new bandage nearby. 

Start by carefully removing the bandage as described above. Again, if the bandage sticks, you can use some lukewarm water to help remove the adhesive. Very gently, remove and discard the used bandage.

Wash your hands again, and then use a circular motion to gently wash off any remaining ink, blood, and plasma with your hand, some warm water, and a small amount of fragrance-free, antibacterial soap. (You want to avoid building up too much lather, which can be difficult to remove.) Avoid scrubbing the new tattoo, which could damage your skin and slow healing.

Again, gently rinse off the tattoo until the skin is clean. Rather than placing the tattoo under running water, use your clean hands to splash lukewarm water onto the tattoo until your skin is rinsed clean. 

Finally, allow the skin to dry for around 10 minutes (or until completely dry). Alternatively, you can gently pat dry with a clean towel.

Now that the tattoo is clean and dry, apply a light layer of balm made specifically for tattoos, such as Sanibalm. Avoid over moisturizing the tattoo, which could make it more difficult for the tattoo to breathe.

Tattoo Aftercare Routine: Caring for Your New Tattoo After Removing Saniderm

Once the final Saniderm bandage is removed from your tattoo, continue to care for it by gently washing it with unscented antibacterial soap and pat or air dry. After, apply a layer of aftercare moisturizer 2 – 3 times a day for 2 weeks or until the tattoo is no longer peeling, dry, or cracked. 
Keep in mind that the tattoo may appear to be fully healed on the surface once your second Saniderm bandage comes off. However, deeper layers of skin will still be repairing for 2 – 4 months. We recommend a good moisturizing regimen for this entire period.

Can you over-moisturize a tattoo?

It can be tempting to apply a thick layer of lotion or balm to your healing tattoo, especially if it feels sore or looks dry. Unfortunately, it is possible to over moisturize your tattoo, which can lead to issues. For example, excess moisture…

  • Can slow healing
  • Can be more inviting to bacteria and germ growth
  • Can increase the risk of inflammation and infection
  • Can clog pores, so the skin can’t breathe
  • Can lead to skin breakouts. 

That said, it’s also possible to under-moisturize a tattoo, which can allow the skin to dry out, leading to more scabbing, flaking, and other signs of dryness. 

To get the “just right” level of moisture, use a nice, thin layer of balm or lotion applied twice daily, after first cleaning the skin.

Wearing Saniderm While Showering, Swimming, and Exercising

Showering while wearing Saniderm is fine, but it’s best to keep the time spent in the shower to a minimum.

Water may weaken the adhesive of the bandage, which allows for unwanted contaminants to enter the bandage, putting you at higher risk for infection. It’s also important to keep an eye on the temperature of the water. Too much heat can separate the bandage from the skin, inflame the skin, and irritate the tattoo.

For these reasons, bathing, swimming, or fully submerging a tattoo dressed in Saniderm is strongly discouraged. Light exercise while wearing Saniderm is fine, but avoid activity that causes excessive sweating. Just as water will weaken the adhesion of the bandage, so will sweat and any other significant amount of fluid. Try to keep the bandage as clean and dry as possible until it’s time to remove it. 

How Does Saniderm Work? 

Unlike plastic wrap, Saniderm is a medical-grade, breathable, waterproof tattoo bandage. Saniderm is engineered to be permeable to gasses, like oxygen. These bandages alleviate many of the pitfalls that come with other tattoo healing methods. 

Primarily, Saniderm drastically reduces the risk of contaminants entering the wound site of a fresh tattoo. Wearing Saniderm protects the area from unwanted shear/friction and allows the body to keep itself moisturized. Plus, it conveniently eliminates sessions of washing and applying aftercare to a new tattoo. The result is a tattoo healing experience that is safer, smoother, and more efficient.

What if your skin hold doesn’t hold tattoo ink?

There are several reasons and causes as to why your skin doesn’t hold to tattoo ink. A few of these reasons may include the lubricant used, tough skin, the depth of the imprint, or because your body is rejecting the ink. 

It is also very uncommon for your skin to have an allergic reaction to the ink used for your tattoo. However, if you feel like you are having a negative reaction to the tattoo, contact your artist and get information about the ink and contact your doctor immediately. 

How to Cure a Tattoo Infection at Home?

An infected tattoo can be serious and should be handled by a doctor. The area surrounding the tattoo will become painful, swollen, red, and hot if infected. Here are some things you can do to take care of an infected tattoo at home:

  • Take antibiotics or antibiotic cream as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the instructions as presented by your doctor. If no instructions were given, you can follow this general advice:
  • Wash your tattoo with mild soap and warm water 2x a day
  • Pat to dry
  • Cover the tattoo with a water-based cream or lotion and a nonstick bandage
  • Repeat the process as needed

A Brief History of Traditional New Tattoo Care Using Plastic Wrap and Other Aftercare Products

In traditional tattoo care, covering the fresh, clean tattoo with household plastic wrap (e.g., Saran Wrap) is usually the first step in the healing process. This piece of wrap generally stays on for 2 to 24 hours.
Next, the tattoo is washed and an aftercare product is applied (usually petroleum-based like Aquaphor). Steps two and three are then repeated for a minimum of 3 to 4 times per day until the tattoo is fully healed. This can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the size, location, and style of tattoo.
Although this new tattoo care method has been sufficient for many, there are plenty of cons to using this healing method.
Despite the common use of petroleum-based products for new tattoo care, these products tend to suffocate skin pores. When pores are not able to breathe, the skin may develop rashes, and hair follicles become irritated or inflamed. This may do more harm than good to a new tattoo. 
Additionally, since oxygen itself plays a huge role in allowing a tattoo to heal properly, smothering a new tattoo in plastic wrap and petroleum-based aftercare can be detrimental to the healing process. 
Still, an aftercare product is extremely helpful for preventing itchiness and scabbing. Scratching a new tattoo can result in loss of color and detail and may cause bleeding, irritation, or infection. And not covering a fresh tattoo can expose the tattoo to unavoidable contaminants. These include bacteria, germs, and dirt from your household or work environment, pet dander, and more. This is the conundrum Saniderm was created to solve.