Skin is the largest organ in the human body
Skin has 3 layers
1. Epidermis Layer (top/outer)
This layer protects us from things like water, radiation, chemicals, and temperatures. It is full of nerves, which allows us to feel the outside world. This layer of skin flakes off so that new, more healthy skin can emerge.
2. Dermis Layer (middle)
This layer gives the epidermis its strength and elasticity. It holds our hair follicles and houses our sweat glands. This is the later of skin where the tattoo ink is deposited.
3. Hypodermis or Subcutis Layer (bottom)
This layer is the “cushion” made up of fat cells for energy storage and insulation.
DO NOT go swimming, use hot tubs, or submerge your tattoo in any water.
DO NOT scratch or pick at the tattooed area.
LIMIT your tattoo’s exposure to the sun. The less your tattoo sees the sunlight, the longer it will stay vibrant.
Before going to bed, remove the dressing that is covering your tattoo. Gently wash the area in luke-warm water and NON-SCENTED soap (I recommend Cetaphil). After rinsing the soap away, gently pat the area dry. (Do not use a washcloth when washing tattoo; instead gently wash with hand). Re-wrap the tattooed area (I recommend saran wrap). This is to protect the tattoo from your clothes, blankets, or other abrasions.
Next 4-5 Days:
Upon waking up, carefully take the bandage off (may be stuck in places, remove gently). Often you’ll see an imprint of the tattoo ink on the bandages. This is fine. You aren’t losing your tattoo. It’s due to the moisture and yes, some of the ink. Gently wash the area in luke-warm water. Don’t allow the water to directly hit the tattoo area. Instead, disperse water with your hand. Apply a NON-SCENTED soap. Lather on tattoo area, then gently wash away the soap.
Wash tattoo three times a day. This prevents the risk of infection.
After each washing, gently apply a very small amount of ointment over the area (I recommend Aquaphor, H2Ocean, or A&D ointment; DO NOT USE VASELINE or NEOSPORIN; petroleum products pull ink out of the skin). A little ointment goes a long way, so don’t glob it up there. You just want to moisturize the area.
After the 5 Days:
Once you’ve passed the five day window, the plasma is no longer seeping out of your skin. The excess ink that your body does not absorb will begin to flake off. At this time, switch to NON-SCENTED, NON-PETROLEUM, NON-SUNSCREEN moisturizer or lotion. Apply 3-4 times a day.
Depending on your skin, age, overall health, and the size of the tattoo, your tattoo can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks to completely heal (underneath skin too).
POSSIBLE ADVERSE REACTIONS
Infection- If the needles, equipment, or surrounding area are not properly cleaned & sanitized, infection can occur. This is why aftercare is so critical besides resulting in a great looking tattoo.
Allergic Reaction- in rare cases, people can be allergic to the ink. This reaction can even occur years after you received your tattoo.
Granulomas- These are small bumps that form around the ink, because your body identifies the ink as a foreign substance.
Keloids- Scarring which creates raised skin around or underneath the tattooed area.
THE TATTOOING PROCESS
Tattoo artists use a tattoo machine, which delivers ink to the needles, then pushes ink (pigment) by puncturing through your epidermis layer of skin. When an artist works on your tattoo, they make very fast successions of puncture wounds ranging from 50 and 3,000 times per minute (or 100 piercings per second).
Tattoos are injuries to the skin. Once the ink (pigment) has been placed, the skin will be slightly swollen, hot, tender, and may be seeping blood and plasma. The swelling is due to the body’s immune response of an increased blood flow to the area. The warmth is due to the increased blood flow, as well as the immune system cranking up the temperature in order to fight off infection.
Over the course of a week or two, the body will be repairing the skin where the tattoo has been applied. This includes a sloughing off of the dead or dying layers of skin that the tattoo was placed beneath, and repair of the layer of skin that will contain the tattoo itself. The process of tattooing the skin is thought to interrupt the skin’s natural production of oils, which is why it is very important to moisturize the tattoo regularly. DO NOT OVER- MOISTURIZE as this will clog the pores, cause rashes or pimples, dissolve the delicate platelets and re-open the tattoo which causes the oozing of more plasma and increases the likelihood that your tattoo will scab. Try to simply maintain a moisture level that is consistent with the parts of your skin that are NOT healing a tattoo.
Edgar Guardiola, Tattoo Artist
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