Wearing Clothes Over a New Tattoo: Can You Do It and How?

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Admit it – you couldn’t wait to get a new tattoo to rock it with a cool outfit and show it off. However, one of the most frequent misconceptions about getting a new tattoo is that you can simply go on with your regular life until the tattoo heals, like wearing your regular clothes. Well, things won’t go so smoothly if you want the tattoo to heal properly and in time.

Wearing regular, tight-fitting clothing is one of the major issues people deal with in the first few weeks after a tattoo. Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re one of them.

Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about the issues of wearing clothes over a new tattoo, whether you can do it, and what kind of clothes should you go for until the tattoo heals. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Clothes Vs. Tattoos

Why Is It Important To Pay Attention to What You Wear After Getting Tattooed?

During the first few days, your tattoo will probably be wrapped, unwrapped, and left to stop oozing and bleeding or commence the healing process. While this last, the tattoo needs room to breathe and dry, but also, cannot have anything obstruct that.

Clothes, especially the tight-fitting ones, will prevent the tattoo from drying and closing properly, which in itself, can lead to a number of problems. There are the issues of the constant rubbing of the clothes against the tattoo, clothes sticking to the tattoo, and of course, clothes introducing contaminants and bacteria to a new tattoo. But, more on that in the following paragraphs.

What Are The Risks of Tight-Fitting Clothes?

Here are some of the main risks of wearing tight-fitting clothes after getting a new tattoo;

  • The fabric will constantly rub against the tattoo – not only will this create an issue of a tattoo being constantly exposed to contaminants and bacteria, but it will also be constantly ‘reopened’ since it acts as an open wound during the first few days. This means that the healing process will be prolonged, and the tattoo will have a hard time sealing and drying out.
  • The clothes might get stuck to the tattoo – now, this can create a lot of issues for your tattoo. When the fabric gets stuck to a fresh tattoo, there is a possibility the design will get messed up. Also, there is a high chance the tattoo is exposed to contaminants and bacteria, increasing the chance of an infection. Not to mention that the very attempt to remove the stuck fabric can be pretty painful and cause tattoo bleeding and oozing.
  • The clothes might introduce bacteria to the tattoo – tight-fitting clothes increase the chance of introducing contaminants and bacteria to a new tattoo. As a result, the tattoo can start swelling, rashing, blistering, burning, hurting increasingly, or even develop a full-blown infection. Such issues can damage the tattoo design, cause ink leaking, and overall damage your skin. In case of an infection, the best thing you can do is seek medical attention and professional advice.
  • The clothes might inhibit clotting and scabbing of the tattoo – in order to dry out and close, the tattoo needs to stop bleeding and oozing. With tight clothes constantly rubbing against the tattoo, the fabric will inhibit the blood clotting process, and well prevent the formation of a protective layer or scabs. Of course, this can also lead to inflammation and infection due to excess moisture in the tattooed area.
  • The tattoo bleeding and oozing will destroy your clothes – this may not be as dramatic as the previous risks, but we do have to mention that blood, plasma, and ink from the tattoo will stain your clothes, for good. If you care about your clothes, you will avoid wearing tight-fitting pieces, since the stains are permanent.

So, What Kind Of Clothes Should I Wear Over a New Tattoo?

After getting a tattoo, and during the healing process, which can last between 2 weeks and a month in its initial and most important stage, you should be wearing loose-fitting clothes. That is of course if the tattoo is placed on your body apart from the neck, head, and feet. For those areas, you need to pay special attention, especially in the case of feet tattoo (the issues of wearing socks and shoes).

Loose clothes will cover the tattoo so much so that it stays protected. There is a lower chance the fabric will stick to the tattoo and introduce contaminants as well. There will be minimal or rubbing of the fabrics against the tattoo, which will significantly minimize healing issues or the chance of an infection.

Note: After getting a new tattoo, it will be wrapped and well protected. You can wear loose clothes over the wrap and not really worry about it. However, when you remove the wrap, loose clothes are essential, because you cannot simply keep the tattoo wrapped forever.

It needs air to breathe and dry out, clot, and form scabs. So, make sure to wear the loosest clothes possible, and if necessary, wrap the tattoo during the first few nights to prevent it from sticking or ruining your clothes and sheets.

What Kind Of Clothes Should I Avoid After Getting Tattooed?

For the ladies out there; if the tattoo is placed in the chest/breast area, ladies should avoid wearing a bra, at least while at home. At work or outdoors, one can wear a looser-fitting bra, to avoid moisture build-up and putting pressure onto the tattoo.

Tight-fitting bras can make the area sweaty, but also restrict the airflow, which can trap moisture and lead to infections. If loose-fitting bras don’t do the job, then we advise the ladies to simply go braless.

For both, ladies and gentlemen, avoid wearing jeans and pants (with tight waistband), for tattoos placed on hips, gluteus area, thighs, intimate area, lower abdomen, lower or middle back. To avoid putting pressure and restricting airflow, avoid tight-fitting jeans and pants. The same goes for leggings and skinny jeans. The best alternative is sweatpants, loose-fitting pants, or loose-fitting shorts.

In the case of a foot tattoo, it is essential to go barefoot for as long as possible. Socks are a no-go, since they’re tight-fitting, as well as boots, heels, strappy sandals, and tight-fitting footwear overall. If you do have to wear shoes, try to wear slides or flip-flops to avoid the shoes or socks rubbing against the tattoo.

It is also important to avoid tight-fitting gym clothing, like leggings, tops, yoga pants, gymnastics clothing, etc. Such clothing is not only tight-fitting, but it also stretches. As such, it can stretch over the tattoo and pull the treated area. This can be pretty painful and might increase the risk of infection.

What Else Can You Do?

Here are some other tips you can utilize to ensure the tattoo heals properly, without any unnecessary complications;

  • When outdoors, keep the tattoo covered while it heals – exposure to sunlight can damage a newly-healing tattoo. Since you cannot apply sunscreen onto the tattoo until it heals fully, you will need to keep it covered with loose clothes, even during those hot, summer days.
  • During bedtime, try to wrap the tattoo to protect it – even though it is not advisable to rewrap a new tattoo, during the first few nights you can rewrap it just to keep it from sticking to clothes or bedsheets. This will also be useful to keep everything clean; rewrapping will prevent the tattoo from bleeding onto your pajamas and sheets and ruin them both.
  • Do not sleep, or sit on the tattoo – just by wearing loose clothes, does it mean you’re done taking care of the tattoo. Even with proper clothes, you cannot apply any pressure on the tattoo, by sleeping or sitting on it (depending on the placement). For the first week, try to adjust your sleeping or sitting position, just to avoid any complications.
  • Try not to exercise until the tattoo heals – your tattoo needs a dry environment to heal, so exercising will only compromise the healing process. You will also expose the tattoo to sweat, which is loaded with contaminants and can cause an infection. The sweat also stays trapped in the clothes, which, if tight-fitting, can also can infections and lots of other issues.
  • Do not allow the pets to sleep in the same bed as you – pets, especially dogs, can introduce bacteria to your sleeping area. By not allowing them to sleep in the same bed as you, you’re minimizing the risk of infection. So, keep the pets away from the bed, and try to change your bedsheets frequently if the pets tend to sleep on your bed.

Final Takeaway

The first few weeks are getting a tattoo is essential to its healing process. Following a proper aftercare routine can help this process go as smoothly as possible. However, if you do not wear proper clothes, or avoid wearing certain items or irritating fabrics, you can encounter serious issues, from tattoo irritation to infection.

Hopefully, our aforementioned tips and insight will help you endure and go through the healing process smoothly. For more information, talk to your tattoo artists or people who have gone through this as well. In case of unusual tattoo occurrences, like swelling, rashing, burning or even a fever, seek medical attention.

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