Can You Fly After Getting a New Tattoo: Traveling With Fresh Ink

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With the COVID restriction finally loosening up and traveling having a huge comeback, we’ve decided to tackle a rather important question for all the people with fresh ink out there; can you really board a plane and fly away after getting a new tattoo?

Chances are if you’re reading this, you probably thought of this potential drawback to your traveling plans. But, you’re at the right place for all the information. In the following paragraphs, we’ll tackle the issue of traveling (flying in particular) and whether you should do it after getting inked. So, without further ado, let’s just get right into it!

Can You Fly After Getting a New Tattoo: Everything You Need To Know

Now, the aftermath of getting a tattoo is generally pretty tricky and delicate. The first few days and essential to the healing process, and will generally determine the rest of the tattoo healing and set the tone for it.

What we mean by this is; if you mess up the tattoo healing the first few days, the chance of the tattoo not healing properly increases significantly. If the healing process prolongs, there is a possibility of an infection occurring as well.

So, why are we mentioning this?

Well, when you get a tattoo and you go traveling right away, you’re exposing your tattoo in its most vulnerable state. This, of course, increases the risk of improper aftercare, leading to potential ink leaking, excessive bleeding and oozing, prolonged healing, and eventually, an infection.

But, sure enough, this doesn’t have to be the expected outcome; there are cases where people have traveled with fresh ink and things turned out just fine. But this, of course, depends on numerous factors; the size and the placement of tattoos as the most essential ones.

Why Is Flying or Traveling With Fresh Ink Risky
Credit: Instagram

Why Is Flying or Traveling With Fresh Ink Risky?

To be more precise with our explanation, here are the exact reasons why traveling after getting a tattoo can be pretty risky for the tattoo and your health as well;

  • Exposure to Contaminants and Sanitary Issues

The first two to three days, the tattoo is basically an open wound. As such, it does hurt and requires full-time care and commitment. You need to wash the tattoo, in some cases even rewrap it, and generally keep it clean and away from potential contaminants. So, for that, you need full access to a clean bathroom, and an overall clean environment to rest.

However, while in a plane, you’re surrounded by hundreds of other people, and no matter how ‘clean’ the plane is (we all know planes are pretty dirty), your tattoo will be exposed to certain contaminants and bacteria. You might not be able to get up to the bathroom to wash your hands, for example, every time you want to handle the tattoo.

  • Discomfort

When dealing with a new tattoo, you need to spend time in a comfortable position, whether you’re sitting or lying. This especially applies to tattoos places on the back, thighs, legs, stomach, gluteus area, and other sensitive-to-touch areas. The problem is, plane seats are uncomfortable even when you’re not dealing with anything, let alone a tattoo.

So, you can imagine the discomfort you’ll go through just by sitting on a plane for several hours, with a new painful and oozing tattoo. This can further complicate the tattoo healing process so early in the healing stage.

  • Dry Air in The Plane

Maybe you’re not familiar with this, but the air on planes is extremely dry. Maybe you’ve noticed that, after a flight, your skin feels pretty dehydrated, dry, and almost flaky. Now, that is generally not an issue to untreated skin; you just apply some moisturizer, drink more fluids, and you’ve pretty much dealt with the issue.

However, you cannot just simply moisturize a fresh tattoo. For the first few days, the tattoo is an open wound that needs time to heal and start sealing. Until that happens, you cannot apply a moisturizer or lotion. So, the dry air can also complicate the healing process and promote tattoo drying and dehydration.

  • Potential Issue With Transport Security Authority

Now, imagine coming to an airport with your tattoo covered in a bandage and wrapping. You would assume that the security and customs officers would find such a sight a bit unusual, and they would want to check it out. Well, considering that even the smallest things that trigger these officers to cause you trouble, a bandage, and an oozing tattoo will surely set their alarms off.

The officers might ask you to remove the bandage so that they can check whether you actually have a new tattoo. This can expose the tattoo to contaminants and bacteria, which can later lead to an infection. To avoid this, make sure to take a picture of the tattoo and bring the tattoo receipt from the tattoo studio to show the TSA as proof. Also, let them know about the health risks that involve removing the bandage.

  • Unexpected Tattoo Reaction

Things are generally uncertain with a fresh tattoo in the first few days. Everything may seem fine, and then, all of a sudden, the tattoo starts hurting, bleeding, oozing, rashing, swelling, etc. Sometimes it can take between 24 and 48 hours for an allergic reaction or an infection to showcase via the aforementioned symptoms. So, it would be unfortunate to experience something like that during a flight or a holiday.

So, How Long Should I Wait Before Flying?

It would be ideal to wait at least a week until you get on a flight with a new tattoo. Why is one week ideal? Well, in those 7 days your tattoo will manage to close nicely and start healing properly. You will also have enough time to see whether the tattoo is healing without any issues, like an allergic reaction, swelling, leaking, raising, rashing, or an infection.

Even if something like that occurs, you’ll be able to see a doctor immediately or contact your tattoo artist directly. Moreover, by waiting for 7 days, you’re minimizing the risk of contaminants and bacteria exposure, which significantly reduces the risk of an infection occurring.

Now, if your traveling plans are urgent for some reason, try to wait at least 2 to 3 days, just until the tattoo stops oozing and starts drying out and closing. Traveling directly after a tattoo will just complicate the healing process, as we mentioned. You don’t want to be dealing with an infection on your holidays.

What To Do If You Need To Travel Right Away?

In case of a sudden, unexpected situation where you need to get on a plane as soon as possible, here are some tips to utilize to follow through with the aftercare and keep the tattoo as protected as possible;

  • Stay hydrated – as we mentioned, the air in the plane will dehydrate and dry out the tattoo. Since you cannot moisturize fresh ink, make sure to drink enough fluids to keep your body hydrated. Eat fruits if possible, and avoid salty dishes, since they make the body dehydrated as well.
  • Wear loose clothes – this is essential when you get a new tattoo, regardless of whether you’re staying home or traveling somewhere. Loose clothes won’t stick to your tattoo and will give it room to breathe. Tighter clothes might stick to the tattoo, and possibly introduce bacteria and contaminants.
  • Don’t forget to clean the tattoo – during the flight, you will have to clean the tattoo at least once, depending on the duration of the flight, of course. If the flight lasts 1 to 3 hours, you might only need to check on the tattoo. However, if it lasts longer, cleaning is essential. Make sure to clean the tattoo in the bathroom with lukewarm water. Don’t forget to bring your own antibacterial soap. Try not to leave your stuff around the bathroom, and clean your hands before you touch the tattoo.
  • Choose what you need mindfully – because a fresh tattoo is an open wound, your body needs all the energy available to heal it as quickly as possible. So, during the flight, try to snack on some nuts and fruits, instead of chips and chocolate. Also, avoid drinking alcohol, since it can thin out your blood and cause your tattoo to start bleeding excessively.

The best thing you can actually do is to reschedule your traveling plans if possible. Try to push the flight at least for a few days. If that is not possible, then we recommend you discuss the traveling plan with your tattoo artist; maybe they’ll provide further insight into how to protect your particular tattoo and ensure a comfortable flight as well. You should definitely have this conversation with your tattoo artist if the tattoo is placed somewhere tricky.

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