Caring for a tattoo
Most minor swelling and redness (inflammation) from a tattoo can be treated at home. If your tattoo artist gave you instructions, follow them carefully.
If you did not receive instructions for skin care of the tattoo site, try the following:
- Stop any bleeding. Minimal bleeding can be stopped by applying direct pressure to the wound. It is normal for the tattoo site to ooze small amounts of blood for up to 24 hours and clear, yellow, or blood-tinged fluid for several days.
- Apply a Reference cold pack to help reduce the swelling, bruising, or itching. Never apply ice directly to the skin. This can cause tissue damage. Put a layer of fabric between the cold pack and the skin.
- Take an Reference antihistamine, such as Benadryl or Chlor-Trimeton, to help treat Reference hives Opens New Window and relieve itching. Be sure to read and follow any warning on the label. Do not use strong soaps, detergents, and other chemicals, which can make itching worse.
- Protect your tattoo with a
bandage if it might become dirty or irritated.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment, such as Polysporin or Bacitracin, to a nonstick bandage, such as Telfa.
- Apply the nonstick bandage with the ointment on it to the tattoo site. The ointment will prevent the irritated skin from sticking to the bandage. Putting the ointment on the bandage first will be less painful. If a skin rash or itching under the bandage starts, wash the ointment off and don't use that type of ointment again. The rash may mean an allergic reaction.
- Apply a clean bandage once a day and change the bandage if it gets wet. If the bandage sticks, soak the tattoo area in warm water for a few minutes or take the bandage off under running water in the shower.
- Leave the bandage off with the skin open to air whenever you can.
|Try a nonprescription medicine to help treat your pain:|
|Be sure to follow these safety tips when you use a nonprescription medicine:|
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
Reference Call your doctor if any of the following occur during home treatment:
- Reference Signs of an infection Opens New Window develop.
- An Reference allergic reaction develops.
- Your symptoms are not improving after 2 weeks of home treatment.
- Your symptoms become more severe or frequent.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference May 3, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Reference H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine