Even before you get your first tattoo (or if it’s been a while since you got your last), you want to research how to best care for your new ink for the absolute best results. And one of the most important topics involves how to clean your body after receiving a new tattoo without damaging it. For instance, how long after a tattoo can you shower? Can you even shower with a new tattoo?
In this post, we’ll cover all of the important questions surrounding showering after a tattoo to help prevent skin infections and help it heal more quickly. We’ll start with: how soon after getting a tattoo can you take a shower?
How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Shower?
When it comes to showering after a tattoo, the answer is: it depends. In the past, with old-school bandages (or cling wrap), tattoo artists typically recommended waiting at least 12 hours before showering. Things, however, have changed. If you’re using a newer, quality, medical-grade protective tattoo bandage over the skin to support the healing process, showering after a tattoo becomes a nonissue.
For example, Saniderm Tattoo Bandages are both waterproof and breathable, so you can take a shower after getting a tattoo almost immediately because the tattoo is fully protected. Many people, after sitting in the tattoo chair for a few hours, understandably want to go home and shower right after to freshen up. Newer medical-grade tattoo bandages like Saniderm allow you to do just that.
Can I Get My Tattoo Wet?
You will, however, need to take precautions with a new tattoo. While a tattoo can get a little wet, don’t submerge your tattoo in water or place the new tattoo under direct running water.
A few hours after the tattoo, you’ll want to rinse off excess fluids, such as blood, plasma, and ink, from the skin. To begin, you’ll want to make sure your hands are completely clean. Then splash soapy water onto the tattoo to rinse away the fluid. Pat gently to dry completely with a clean paper towel before applying a light layer of tattoo ointment and wrapping it again with a clean, fresh tattoo bandage.
If you do want to shower with a new tattoo, take short showers and be very gentle to avoid irritating the skin. Remember, a new tattoo is an open wound, and it needs to be protected during the healing process.
How to Shower with New Tattoo
When showering with a new tattoo, wait until you have been told you can remove the tattoo bandage (that’s 12 to 24 hours after with Saniderm) and then use ONLY a very mild, fragrance-free, antibacterial soap when washing the tattoo or showering with a new tattoo.
Make sure you avoid excessively cold or hot water and shower with just lukewarm water. There’s no need to lather or scrub newly tattooed skin. Instead, gently rinse the tattoo with slightly soapy water. It’s also important to avoid putting pressure on the tattoo for the first few days as it begins to heal.
When Can I Shower Normally After a Tattoo?
As long as your tattoo is wrapped in a medical-grade, waterproof bandage, you can shower normally anytime. Just make sure you keep the bandage in place as recommended by Saniderm and your tattoo artist.
After removing the tattoo bandage a few days later, you can shower as usual, as long as you take some simple precautions.
Showering After a Tattoo Precautions
Again, getting the new tattoo a little wet is fine. You’ll just want to avoid leaving the new ink under running water or submerging it. Tips on taking a shower after getting a new tattoo include:
- Treating the new tattoo like a fresh wound as that’s what it is.
- Keeping your showers short and sweet.
- Only use cool or lukewarm water to clean the tattoo, avoiding excessively cold or hot water.
- Never putting a fresh tattoo directly under running water—instead, use your clean hands or a clean cup to gently wash the area.
- Skipping harsh soaps to avoid irritating the skin—use only antibacterial, mild fragrance-free soaps designed for tattoo care.
- Do not use a washcloth or loofah, as they can damage the tattoo.
What to Do After Taking a Shower
After showers, dry the tattoo completely but gently by patting with a paper towel and allowing it to dry before you rewrap it. Avoid using the same towel you used on the rest of your body to prevent cross-contamination, which can introduce bacteria and possibly lead to infections.
Finally, apply moisturizer once it’s completely dry, making sure you only use a quality tattoo ointment or lotion. Then, if it’s a really fresh tattoo, wrap it with a clean film to continue to protect it for the first few days.
Even once the tattoo begins to peel, you’ll want to avoid the temptation to scrub off the dry skin. Allow it to sluff off in its own time and use a quality tattoo ointment or lotion to help relieve any itchiness as it heals.
Can I Take a Bath with a New Tattoo?
While many people prefer showers, others prefer regular baths. Should you bathe after getting a tattoo? No. At least not right away.
After getting a new tattoo, baths are strictly forbidden, albeit temporarily. For at least two weeks after getting your new ink, that means avoiding bathtubs, swimming pools, hot tubs, lake days, or any time around open water. Depending on the size of your new tattoo, you may want to give your skin even longer to heal before you dive in.
When Can I Take a Bath with a New Tattoo?
In most cases, you can feel free to submerge the tattoo after at least two weeks. Again, however, this can depend on the person, the location, the size of the piece, and how quickly it’s healing. So, check with your tattoo artist and follow their recommendations. Even then, you may want to minimize bath times until the tattoo is fully healed.
To ensure your tattoo heals completely and to decrease the risk of infection, complications, or damage to your tattoo, knowing these answers about bathing, showering, hot tubs, and swimming is essential.
Promoting the healing process of your tattoo does take some extra steps and care. Fortunately, this too is temporary, and within a few weeks to a few months, your tattoo will be fully healed and look as intended, so you can enjoy it for years to come! And, of course, you can shower (or bathe) as you prefer—at least until you decide it’s time to get your next tattoo.