Showering After a Tattoo: Essential Tips for Proper Tattoo Aftercare

Showering After a Tattoo: Essential Tips for Proper Tattoo Aftercare


Embarking on the journey of getting a new tattoo comes with its share of questions and concerns, notably, "Can you shower after a tattoo?" is a vital aspect of tattoo aftercare that deserves attention, as proper care can significantly impact the healing process and longevity of your tattoo. Understanding the dos and don’ts of showering after a tattoo can not only ensure your new ink heals properly but also prevent any unwelcome complications that could arise from neglect or misinformation.

This article aims to shed light on the essentials of tattoo healing time and the pivotal first steps of tattoo aftercare, specifically focusing on how to shower with a new tattoo. We’ll guide you through the initial waiting period before it's considered safe to shower, offer a step-by-step showering guide tailored for new tattoos, and discuss special considerations for different tattoo locations. Furthermore, long-term showering tips, including the possible use of a waterproof bandage, will contribute to maintaining the vibrancy and integrity of your ink. With expert advice at your fingertips, navigating the post-tattoo process will be straightforward, reassuring you that you're caring for your new artwork in the best way possible.

Initial Waiting Period

After you've received your new tattoo, it's crucial to wait at least 24 hours before showering. This waiting period allows your tattoo to begin the essential healing process and ensures that the open wound has sufficient time to start closing, significantly reducing the risk of infection. Your tattoo artist will provide specific aftercare instructions, which you should follow meticulously. These instructions might vary depending on the tattoo's size and location, emphasising the importance of personalised care.

In cases where you need to shower sooner than the recommended 24 hours, consider using a medical-grade, waterproof bandage to protect your tattoo. Products like Saniderm can be applied over your tattoo, allowing you to shower within just a few hours post-tattooing while keeping the area dry and protected. It's important to remove the waterproof covering immediately after showering to prevent moisture buildup, which could interfere with the healing process.

If your tattoo was covered with plastic wrap or a regular bandage by your artist, you'll need to wait until this covering is removed before you can shower. The duration before removal can vary from 1 to 24 hours, depending on the advice of your tattoo artist and factors such as the tattoo's location and size. If a medical-grade, waterproof bandage was used, you can shower at any time, provided that the bandage remains on for the duration specified by your artist.

Remember, while it might be tempting to soak your new tattoo, avoid submerging it in water, such as baths, swimming pools, or saunas, for at least 48 hours. Soaking can cause the scabs to loosen prematurely, potentially leading to ink loss and affecting the tattoo's appearance. Always opt for a gentle, brief shower with tepid water, avoiding direct water jets on the new tattoo to maintain its integrity during the initial healing stages.

Step-by-Step Showering Guide

Preparing the Shower

Before stepping into the shower, ensure that the water temperature is lukewarm. Hot water can increase blood flow to the tattooed area, potentially causing bleeding and hindering the healing process. If your tattoo is covered with a medical-grade, waterproof bandage like Saniderm, you can shower at any time, but remember to keep the bandage on for the duration your artist recommended [1].

Applying Soap

When it's time to clean your tattoo, choose a mild, fragrance-free soap. Harsh soaps or scrubs can irritate your new tattoo and delay healing. Lather the soap in your hands and gently apply it to the tattooed area using your fingertips. Avoid using a loofah or washcloth as these can harbour bacteria and increase your risk of infection. It's crucial to be gentle and not rub the tattooed area too vigorously.

Rinsing the Tattoo

After applying soap, use lukewarm water to rinse the tattoo gently. Ensure that all soap is washed off by lightly passing your clean fingers over the tattooed area. Do not allow the shower head to directly hit the tattoo as the forceful water pressure can irritate and damage the healing skin. Limit your shower time to 5-10 minutes to avoid softening the scabs, which can lead to ink loss. After showering, pat the area dry with a clean, soft towel, being careful not to rub the tattoo. Apply a thin layer of unscented moisturising ointment to keep the tattoo moisturised and protected [1].

Special Considerations for Different Tattoo Locations

When considering showering after getting a tattoo, it's essential to take into account the specific location of your new ink, as some areas require more careful handling than others.

Foot Tattoos

Foot tattoos demand extra precautions due to their exposure and positioning. Before showering, protect your foot tattoo by applying a waterproof bandage or wrap. This prevents the tattoo from standing in potentially dirty water, which could hinder the healing process. Additionally, avoid letting the shower stream directly hit your foot tattoo. Instead, position your foot away from direct water flow or use your hand to shield the tattooed area, as direct water pressure can irritate the tattoo and slow down healing [2].

Hand and Finger Tattoos

Hand and finger tattoos are particularly challenging due to frequent exposure to water. It's crucial to be cautious with these tattoos, as they can get wet often, which might affect the healing process. If you notice early peeling, such as on the second day, it could be a sign of your ink coming out, which requires immediate attention to prevent further damage [3].

For both foot and hand tattoos, following the specific aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist is vital. They can offer tailored advice based on the tattoo's size, location, and your skin type, ensuring optimal healing and preservation of your tattoo's quality. Always remember, the key to maintaining your tattoo's integrity is gentle handling and protecting it from excessive moisture and direct water pressure.

Long-Term Showering Tips

Once your tattoo has fully healed, you can resume your regular showering routine. However, maintaining good tattoo aftercare remains crucial to preserve the vibrancy and longevity of your ink. Here are some detailed tips to help you take care of your tattoo in the long term:

After Healing

After the initial healing phase, which typically lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, the outer layer of your skin will appear healed, but remember, that the deeper layers might still be repairing. Continue using a mild, fragrance-free soap to cleanse the area. It's important to keep the tattooed skin hydrated. Switch from ointment to a lotion that doesn't contain alcohol to avoid drying out your skin. Regular moisturizing with a tattoo-specific moisturiser or unscented lotion will help keep the colours vibrant and prevent the skin from cracking.

Protecting Tattoo Colours

To protect your tattoo from fading, limit your tattoo’s exposure to the sun. UV rays can significantly fade tattoo ink over time. When you're out in the sun, cover your tattoo with clothing or apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 to the tattooed area. Also, choose clothing that is loose-fitting and made from breathable materials to avoid irritation and friction on the tattooed skin. By following these guidelines, you ensure that your tattoo remains as vibrant and detailed as the day you got it, while also keeping your skin healthy and well-protected. Remember, the longevity of a tattoo is greatly influenced by how well you care for it post-healing.


Navigating the care of your new tattoo, especially when it comes to showering, can significantly influence the healing process and the longevity of your ink. As we explored, waiting for the right time before exposing your tattoo to water, using the correct supplies, and following through with the appropriate aftercare steps are pivotal to ensure your artwork heals beautifully and remains vibrant. Tailoring your aftercare routine to accommodate for the specific location of your tattoo and following expert advice can mitigate complications, ensuring your tattoo looks its best for years to come.

The journey of tattoo aftercare is an ongoing process, extending well beyond the initial healing phase. By adhering to the guidelines discussed, from the first shower to long-term maintenance, you're taking essential steps towards protecting your investment and the story it represents on your skin. For more insights on maintaining your tattoo or exploring other topics related to tattoo aftercare, check out our other blogs. Adopting these practices will not only safeguard your tattoo but also enhance your overall skin health, keeping both your ink and your confidence shining bright.


Should I opt for a bath or a shower after getting a tattoo?

It's advisable to shower rather than bathe after getting a tattoo. While it's okay for your tattoo to get slightly wet, it shouldn't be submerged or exposed to a stream of running water for an extended period. Keep your showers brief and gentle, avoiding the use of abrasive materials like loofahs or washcloths on the tattooed area.

How soon can I wash my tattoo after getting it?

You should wait at least 5 hours after getting a tattoo before removing the bandage to wash it. Always wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning the tattoo. Use hypoallergenic soap and warm water, gently applying it with your fingers.

Is it possible to clean my tattoo using only water?

While you can rinse your tattoo with just water, it's best to use a gentle cleanser during the shower to help remove any blood, ointment, ink, or plasma. Ensure you don't scrub the tattooed area too harshly. A gentle lather followed by a thorough rinse is sufficient to keep the tattoo clean.

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