There are several things that you cannot do until your new tattoo heals. Some of those things include exposure to the sun, going to the gym, swimming, or even soaking your tattoo. This may discourage a lot of people who were waiting for the summer to get their body inked, completely forgetting that besides the soft and loose clothing, summer is also the season of beach and pool parties.
Many tattoo artists have conflicting opinions on when is the right time to get your tattoo wound soaked. What they all agree on, however, is that some time needs to pass before the tattoo can be soaked.
In this article, we’ll talk about these healing times, and the potential risks of swimming after getting a tattoo. We’ll also go through the different healing stages of tattoos that may hint at when is the right time to come back to the pool.
Can You Swim After Getting A Tattoo?
The short answer is no. Your tattoo artist will cover your tattoo in a bandage and a special waterproof patch dressing to prevent any sweating or soaking of the tattoo. Aftercare routine for your healing tattoo can be challenging, especially if you don’t know much about healing tattoos. Luckily, we wrote an article that will help you in caring for your tattoo and getting it dry.
The healing routine can be quite strict. In efforts to keep the tattoo wound dry and allow it to heal properly, tattoo artists and other experts advise their clients to use special ointments and other cosmetic products that can help with aiding their wounds.
Additionally, only mild showers are recommended and not baths. That’s because many tattoo artists fear the risk of soaking your tattoo when it’s supposed to be healing. With that in mind, swimming, which more often than not includes submerging your entire body could be bad for your tattoo.
The risks of swimming while your tattoo is healing doesn’t only pose the risk of the tattoo healing poorly, fading, or scabbing off, it also poses risks from a bacterial infection that could compromise your health as a whole.
It’s important to understand that when inking your body, a needle makes stings in the small, outer layer of your skin. The skin is left open and exposed to potential bacteria and other microorganisms that could cause an infection. Chlorine, sea salt, and other materials found in the water in the pools and the ocean could potentially spread the infection.
Tattoo Healing Process And Swimming
Small tattoos may need from 3 to 4 weeks to heal. However, those larger and more tasking tattoos may require as many as six weeks and sometimes even more if some complications arise. When it comes to swimming, it’s not recommended to swim as long as the good part of the tattoo hasn’t healed.
As mentioned earlier, tattoo artists have different opinions when it comes to swimming after getting inked. That’s why, it’s important to also of taking what this article says, to consult your tattoo artist for the right time to get back to the pool or the beach.
Nevertheless, we gave a small timeline of the healing process and swimming.
After 1 Week
The micro wound made by the inking needle is still fresh and you will likely still need a bandage, patching, and special ointment to take care of your tattoo. You should wash your tattoo twice a day with antimicrobial soap and other products that ensure that the wound is sterilized and clean.
It’s not recommended to go swimming, even if you can ensure that your tattoo won’t get soaked. You can still take showers while avoiding to get your tattoo soaked.
After 2 Weeks
After two weeks, the wounds will start to patch up much swifter, but you may also notice some scabbing. Either way, the swelling and other effects of the inking process should be long gone. You may no longer need to take showers with your tattoo-covered, and you may even take a mild bath while avoiding complete submerging of your tattoo.
Some tattoo artists may say that it is now safe to swim, but that you should use waterproof patching over your tattoo to avoid it from getting soaked. Some will say that it’s completely safe to swim without any protection, while some will say that it’s not yet the time.
We believe that mild swimming sessions will be permitted, as long as you take extra care about your tattoo wound.
Also Read: Showering With a New Tattoo: Can You Do It and How?
After a Month
After a month up to 6 weeks, your tattoo should be completely healed. If your tattoo artist advised against swimming, it should be completely safe now. Make sure to visit the tattoo studio where you made your tattoo to confirm with your artist that everything went in the right order.
After a month, you will no longer have to cover your tattoo when going swimming. With proper ointment, the chlorine and sea salt shouldn’t affect your wound. Still, make sure to follow all the aftercare instructions that your tattoo artist prescribes to you.
There’s also a possibility that larger tattoos will take more time to heal and require some rework to feel and look original.
Read More: How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Heal: Step By Step Guide
What To Do If You Can’t Avoid Swimming After Getting A Tattoo?
While summer is marked by the beach and pool parties, not everyone swims for entertainment. It’s also a competitive sport, which requires athletes to spend more than two hours a day in the water when preparing for a race.
Some tattoo studios are so overbooked that many people have to schedule weeks and months ahead, which is why sometimes it’s impossible to avoid a race, training, or competition after getting a tattoo done.
In most cases, we’d advise you to either reschedule the tattoo appointment or see to delay the swimming. However, it’s not always possible so there’s no way to wait for the tattoo to heal completely before submerging into the water.
What to do in that case?
Wrap Your Tattoo In Plastic
In most cases, plastic is waterproof and won’t allow the water to get to your tattoo. That’s why you can use a nylon foil which is made out of plastic parts and wrap your tattoo with it to ensure that it’s safe. It’s not the happiest solution, but it will protect your tattoo from scabbing, darkening, or even fading.
Use Waterproof Patches
There are a lot of popular waterproof patches, one of them is called Tagederm and is ideal for people who are swimming while having wounds, that also includes the micro-injuries caused by the tattoo. In this case, it’s also not the happiest solution, but if your tattoo has already healed some, it should help you swim without worry.
Clean Your Tattoo Thoroughly
If you do go with little to no protection into the water, as well as while applying some of the aforementioned methods, you should still see to clean your tattoo off potential sea salt and chlorine to prevent infection. Chlorine can also make your black ink turn grey or even brown as a result of chemical reactions. That will only leave extra work for your tattoo artist to fix.
Also Read: How To Clean Your Tattoo: Step By Step Guide
Why You Shouldn’t Swim With a Tattoo
When swimming, our skin will absorb water, just as if it was a piece of clothing. With inked skin, there are small micro-injuries that would allow the water to penetrate in, carrying chlorine, sea salt, microorganisms such as bacteria, and more.
With that in mind, there are two key reasons as to why you shouldn’t swim with a freshly inked tattoo, and instead, wait for it to heal.
- The bacteria that penetrates your skin will find a moist area and start breeding. The breeding ground may allow them to potentially enter your bloodstream, even though the injuries from the needle are small. Entering your bloodstream, bacteria could poison your blood, leading to potentially fatal consequences.
- Chlorine and sea salt deposits on our skin as we enter the water. Those deposits could potentially ruin your tattoo, fade and wash away the color, or even change it. Many people who swam after getting their tattoo inked had to revisit for a rework because the colors faded and changed. For example, your black ink could turn brown.
The first reason is important because the healing procedure is lengthy and goes through different stages. As the skin heals, it begins to scab and peel off. During this process, it’s important for the skin to remain dry and not exposed to the water. When all the remaining dead skin peels off, it should be safe to swim.
Here are additional questions about getting a tattoo and swimming afterward.
How Long Must I Wait Before Swimming After Getting A Tattoo?
Some tattoo artists say that waiting for two weeks is enough. However, the safest bet would be waiting from 4 to 6 weeks to ensure that the tattoo is completely healed and that there’s no need for a rework to be done. Some tattoo artists are conflicted on this opinion.
How To Clean Tattoo After Swimming?
If you had to swim during the healing time for your tattoo, you should do the following.
- Shower thoroughly in the lukewarm water, definitely not hot water.
- Clean tattoo with antimicrobial soap and disinfecting ointment.
- Pat your tattoo would clean, don’t rinse or scrub.
Avoid getting it wet or swimming unless it’s necessary and required.
Does Chlorine Affect The Tattoo Quality?
Chlorine is a strong substance that is often put into the pool water to clean it from bacteria and other unwanted material. Chlorine can also affect the longevity and quality of the ink, especially if the tattoo is new and in the healing process.
It can cause the color of the ink to start fading or changing color. The same goes for sea salt. Exposure to both can also result in unwanted skin infections or even a serious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection.
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