So, here’s the deal; you just got a new tattoo, and with summer around the corner, you may as well be wondering whether you can actually go for a swim. We all know that new tattoos and water don’t really go together; your tattoo artist must have had a warning conversation about the dangers of submerging a new tattoo underwater.
And now, here we are; you’re doing your own research about waterproofing a tattoo for swimming, because, let’s be honest, we all can’t wait for summer to arrive so we can spend our long, hot days down at the beach taking wonderfully refreshing dips in the sea.
Since we fully understand your struggles, we’ve decided to write a quick guide to protect your tattoo from water, as well as talk about some instructions regarding new tattoos and swimming overall. So, without further ado, let’s get right into this!
How To Protect A New Tattoo When Swimming
Why This Combo is a No-No?
Considering that new tattoos are still a type of healing wound, it is essential to talk about the type of water exposure you can truly afford until the tattoo is fully healed.
So, swimming with a new tattoo is a definitive no-no. That is something every single tattoo artist will emphasize and rule out as a possibility. Now, you may wonder why?
Well, new tattoos, in order to heal, need to dry out. By drying out, the skin forms scabs, under which new skin layers form and allow the tattoo to fully set and heal, as well as develop a matte finish.
Now, if you submerge a new tattoo underwater, you’re risking something called moisture buildup, which means that the tattoo will simply be too wet to dry out and start healing. As a result, the tattoo will become a perfect, damp area for bacteria- and germ buildup. As we all know, it’s never good to have bacteria around a wound. This can directly lead to a tattoo inflammation/infection, which can completely mess up the healing process, and ultimately, the design of the tattoo once it finally heals.
So, do you really want to risk an expensive and painful investment like your tattoo just to swim for a few minutes? Let’s hope you said no because the moisture-buildup issue is far from being harmless. The consequences can truly mess up your immune system and affect your overall health. Moreover, if the tattoo does get infected, even if it manages to heal nicely, you will still have to pay more for a tattoo touch-up, making your tattoo far from cost-effective.
So, When Can I Go Under Water?
When it comes to going underwater with a new tattoo, we need to distinguish between a few-minute shower and going for an actual swim.
Showe we all must, and with a new tattoo, it is best to wait for a few days before showering. We’ll talk about that more in the following paragraphs, but overall, your tattoo needs to be fully protected while showering, and you should never expose it to direct water pressure.
When it comes to swimming, it is best to wait until the tattoo is fully healed. When is that, you may ask? Well, it may take your tattoo up to two months to heal, which is a period that depends on your immune system, your tattoo aftercare process, and overall skin health and resilience. Once the tattoo is fully closed, healed, scab-free, and matte in finish. This means that you should still refrain from swimming for at least 2 to 3 weeks, just to be safe.
Let’s be honest; the sea, rivers, and ponds can be full of bacteria, and you might want to prevent a bacterial infection of the tattoo. So, by refraining from swimming for a few weeks, you’re ensuring the tattoo health properly and remains healthy. So, be patient and wait; it’s worth it!
Showering With a New Tattoo +. Protection
Now, one of the most common questions about new tattoos is; how can I shower? Showering with a new tattoo is pretty tricky. Unless you protect your tattoo and keep it away from direct water submersion, you can get away with quick daily showers.
We advise you to now really shower the new tattoo if you7re still in the first days of the tattoo healing process. This is the most sensitive part of the healing process, where the tattoo is most prone to developing infections. So, wait for a few days, until the tattoo is starting to close up, dry out, and heal.
Then, once you can actually see the tattoo healing can you take a full-body shower. But, even then, your tattoo requires protection. What we recommend is applying a thin layer of Vaseline to the tattoo to the tattoo can stay water-proof during the shower. Once you’re done showering, make sure to remove all the Vaseline and clean your tattoo thoroughly. Otherwise, Vaseline can close your tattoo, restrict airflow (which is essential for the healing of skin), and potentially cause an infection.
During the shower, do not expose the tattoo to direct water pressure. You should not wash your tattoo in the shower or do anything of that kind until the tattoo is fully healed. You will just mess it up, cause moisture buildup, and potentially risk a tattoo infection.
Swimming With a New Tattoo
When it comes to swimming with a new tattoo, we have a few things to say.
First and foremost, don’t even think about covering your tattoo with Vaseline or Aquaphor so you can go take a dip when the tattoo is not healed. Unless you really crave a bacterial infection, visit a doctor and a messed up tattoo design, stay away from the water (and the petroleum jelly products) until the tattoo is fully healed.
Now, if it’s been more than 4 weeks, and your tattoo is all closed and scab-free, you can try to go for a swim. Technically, there shouldn’t be any issues, and we still do advise you to wait for a few extra weeks. But, if you really can’t wait to take a dip, we strongly recommend you use a waterproof bandage. This may prevent a tattoo infection caused by exposure to bacteria in the water.
Now, you may think; hey, swimming pools are cleaned than open bodies of water; they’re less dirty, and there are fewer bacteria, I can go swimming there. Well, sure, there might be fewer bacteria, but swimming pools contain chlorine. And, this chemical can cause its own set of issues for your new tattoo. It can irritate your skin, cause a rashing of the tattoo area, and of course, the pools aren’t bacteria-free, so the tattoo could also get infected.
Just because you change the swimming area, doesn’t mean the tattoo will react differently to the water.
Risks and Health Issues Summary
Giving your tattoo enough time to heal is essential not just for the tattoo but also for your overall health. By prolonging the healing process you’re risking inflammation and infection, which can lead to serious health issues. To summarize why you shouldn’t go swimming with a new tattoo, we’ve decided to list out all the potential issues one by one;
- Infection – by going swimming, you could be exposing your new tattoo to an array of different bacteria which can cause different kinds of infections. The infections can be mild, but also severe, leading to death in rare cases. A case of a man contracting flesh-eating bacteria after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico with a new tattoo is something to remember as a life lesson.
- Skin irritation – because new tattoos are sensitive, skin irritation easily occurs after exposure to water. The water exposure can lead to rashes and uncomfortable irritations, which can lead to infections, especially after exposure to chlorine (which can penetrate through tattooed skin and trigger inflammation). The irritation can also lead to blistering of the tattoo, swelling, raising, open sores, and so much more, which can be damaging to both your health and your pricey tattoo.
- Tattoo damage – as we mentioned, both infections and irritations can lead to serious tattoo damage. Sea salt, chlorine, and bacteria, all can cause damage to the tattoo design, issues with the tattoo ink, causing messed-up lines, and poor color payoff.
We know that it is very tempting to just show off your new tattoo and go swimming right away. But, having a little patience with something that has just been ‘carved’ into your skin to last you a lifetime should be common reasoning. Let your tattoo heal properly; nothing will ever truly be able to protect it during swimming like your own, fully healed skin. So, be patient and plan your tattoos wisely; if you want to go for a swim during summer, then try not to get your tattoo a month or two before the holiday season; instead get it done during autumn or winter so that it can fully heal just in time for a good, refreshing swim.