Getting inked for the first time is quite exhilarating. You spend ample time picking or getting your tattoo designed or maybe you randomly took a leap of faith and ended up at a tattoo parlour with your best friend for moral support. It is a permanent and extremely personal piece of art that you will carry with you for a long time. The same goes for piercings. Whether you want to add another one to your already studded ear or you’ve decided to get your septum, naval or your lip pierced, it is a long-term commitment where you need to exercise caution. 

With multiple options available to you when it comes to picking the best artist or place in town to get tattooed or pierced, it is vital to maintain it as well. If we are not cautious about its aftercare, it can lead to infections and even wreck your personalised body artwork. A bit of prior research also comes in handy. If your skin is allergic to certain materials, make sure you discuss it with the artist. Some people can be allergic to latex or to the ingredients or metals present in certain tattoo inks like the colour red. 

For your tattoo to look fresh and vibrant even months or years after you get it done, you need to follow your artist’s instructions which may vary from studio to studio. The basic steps are simple and minimal but make sure to follow them. 

IT’S ‘TAT’ SIMPLE

  1. Your tattoo care begins at the parlour itself. The moment your artist wipes away that last smudge of ink from your skin, they will clean up the tattooed area and apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly or anti-bacterial cream and wrap it up using a clean plastic film. Though you might be tempted to open it almost immediately to take a look at your new ink, it is suggested that you leave it covered for at least a couple of hours. It also depends on the size of the tattoo and the area. If you leave it wrapped for too long then it might lead to skin infection so it is advised to cross-check about the duration with your artist.
  2. When it is time to open the bandage, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands so as to prevent the tattoo from getting infected. Wash the tattoo gently with lukewarm water and a mild, unscented soap. Do not scrub it hard. Use a tissue paper to dry it and avoid using a regular towel.
  3. Once the tattoo is dry, apply a small amount of moisturiser and massage the area gently until your skin absorbs it. You may also ask your tattoo artist to recommend an ointment which will suit your tattoo best. You can then again cover it with the clean film or leave it open, depending what your artist suggests.
  4. Since a tattoo is like an open wound which needs to heal, it has to be kept clean and dry at all times. Continue washing the tattoo twice or thrice a day with a mild soap and lukewarm water for at least a few weeks. For the first few days, wrap it in clean film before taking a shower. Quick showers are fine but do not submerge the tattooed area in water unless it is completely healed.
  5. Like other wounds, you will notice that your tattoo will also start to scab and get itchy. Do not scratch it or pick on it as it may leave light spots. You can lightly pat or slap the area if it gets too itchy and keep it lightly moisturised.
  6. Be patient with the healing time and keep an eye out for skin infections which may include symptoms like swelling, redness or rashes, painful bumps. If you spot these signs then visit your doctor or dermatologist.
  7. Protect your tattoo from direct sunlight sun during the initial weeks and once it heals, apply sunscreen before stepping outside or else the tattoo might fade. If you notice faded spots on your tattoo once it had healed, then get in touch with the studio for a touch-up.

Caring for a fresh piercing involves steps similar to that of tattoo care. For non-oral piercings, you clean the area twice a day with an oil-based soap or a gentle soap and water. Avoid long showers and use of rubbing alcohol as it will dry the area and delay the healing process. Again, it is important to note that you wash your hands before touching the new piercing. It is normal for a new piercing to itch as it heals so do not panic. You may also notice slight inflammation or swelling around the piercing which is often mistaken for an infection. If there is excessive bleeding or redness or you notice pus formation around the area, then speak to your piercer. 

For oral piercing (lip, tongue and cheek) care, you can rinse the inside of your mouth using a sea salt mouthwash or any alcohol-free mouthwash twice or thrice a day. If you notice redness or swelling around your lip piercing then you may apply ice cubes. Until the piercing has entirely healed, avoid tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, spicy or hard foods. 

The aftercare steps provided by your tattoo artist or piercer are to be carefully followed so as to avoid infections. The healing process also differs from person to person and thus it is necessary to consult your artist on the dos and don’ts. The first month is the most crucial time to take care of your tattoo and the piercing as it will ensure its healthy appearance for a long time.