How long does it take for a tattoo to heal?


Tattoos are a popular form of body art where a tattoo artist injects ink, pigments, or dyes into a person’s skin. Although there are many factors that can affect the healing process, it usually takes 2-4 weeks for a tattoo to heal.

While the entire healing process can take several months, the initial healing usually takes a few weeks.

During this time, it is essential that people follow the correct aftercare instructions and avoid or limit certain activities that could negatively affect recovery.

In this article, we will discuss the tattoo healing process and the factors that can affect it. We will also provide you with some follow-up tips.

The healing process is different for every person and every tattoo. Most sources indicate that tattoos generally take around 2 weeks to cure.

However, it can take up to 4 weeks so that the skin recovers completely. Some complications can prolong the healing process.

The following is what a person can generally expect.

Day 1

Usually, individuals leave the tattoo studio with the tattooed area bandaged or wrapped in plastic. The tattoo artist will tell you when to remove the bandage, which is usually 1 to 2 hours later.

People often see a clear liquid seeping out of the tattoo mixed with excess ink, which is normal. The skin may also be sore and slightly warm and red.

People should wash their hands, gently wash the tattoo with unscented soap, and apply a water-based moisturizer.

Some tattoo artists may also recommend that people repackage the tattoo for the first night. This can prevent the tattoo from staining clothes or bedding or sticking to the sheets when a person is sleeping.

Week 1

After a few days, the tattoo should start to look less painful and red. A person may notice that their tattoo looks duller than it initially was. This appearance is not a cause for concern but a sign that the tattoo is healing.

Sometimes as the skin heals people may notice scabs. It is important not to pick the scabs, as this can lead to scarring. At this point, people may also start to notice itchy rash on the skin. However, it is important to refrain from scratching it.

Peeling is also part of the normal healing process, as the skin sheds damaged cells. This can start a A few days after tattooing, as the skin exfoliates and new cells develop.

People may notice peeling or peeling of the skin when washing the tattoo. They should continue to wash and moisturize the tattoo 1-2 times a day.

The first ones days and weeks This is the time when allergic reactions to tattoo ink and potential infections are most likely to occur.

Week 2

The scabs are usually harder at this stage and may flake off naturally. It is still important not to pick the scabs, as this can disrupt the underlying ink.

Many tattoos can be about to heal at this point. People should notice a reduction in the redness and itching.

However, if the tattoo is still painful and swollen, it may indicate inflammation and infection. If this happens, a person should seek immediate medical attention.

Weeks 3 and 4

Most of the scabs and peeling skin should be gone by this point. People should continue to hydrate the skin to hydrate it if it is dry.

The outer layers of the skin should have healed completely, as these are the the fastest to regenerate. The lower layers of the skin can take several months to heal.

An essential factor influencing the healing process is choosing a reputable tattoo studio that practices good aseptic techniques.

Poor hygiene of tattoos may cause infections that slow healing and can lead to serious health problems.

For example, older research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that people can get infections from unauthorized premises and contaminated ink.

A 2016 study investigating the risk of infection with tattoos suggests that 0.5-6% of people may have infectious complications. Choosing a reputable tattoo studio and closely following aftercare guidelines can reduce the risk of infection.

Hence, it is important to choose a tattoo artist who obeys state licensing laws. Federal law does not cover tattoo licenses. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures publish the requirements that are in place in the various states.

The skill of the artist also affects healing time, as rough or poor techniques can cause additional skin trauma.

The size and location of the tattoo can also have an impact on healing. For example, tattoos near joints or areas that sag will take longer to heal than those in areas that do not move as much. Additionally, larger tattoos will take longer to heal than smaller ones.

Additionally, the type of tattoo device and ink color can also affect healing time. For example, red pigments are more likely cause delayed hypersensitivity reactions and slow down the healing process.

Exposing a new tattoo to sunlight can cause discoloration, and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause the tattoo to scab, which can interfere with healing. People should avoid sunbathing and other types of sun exposure during 1 to 3 weeks while the tattoo heals.

A tattoo is an open wound and therefore is vulnerable to infection. Typically, before the wound heals completely, tattoo artists recommend that people avoid certain activities.

These can include strenuous activities that may involve sweating and moving the tattoo, such as exercising, or submerging the tattoo in water, such as taking a bath or bath. to swim.

In rare cases, people with new tattoos can get serious infections caused by water, including strains of flesh-eating bacteria.

the Association of the American Academy of Dermatology recommend the following tips to help the tattoo heal properly:

  • Moisturize with a suitable cream: It is best to use a water-based cream or lotion to moisturize the tattoo and the surrounding skin if it is dry. People should not use petroleum based products because they can cause discoloration.
  • Protect the tattoo from the sun: Tattoos can fade if people expose them to too much sun. People should apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. It is advisable to apply it at least 15 minutes before going out and reapply it every two hours.
  • Avoid using tanning beds: UV light fixtures, such as sunlamps and tanning beds, can discolor tattoos. They also increase the risk of developing skin cancer. In some people, UV light can cause a painful reaction on the tattooed skin.
  • Do not tattoo on moles: When getting tattoos, people should choose an area of ​​skin that is free of moles. Otherwise, a tattoo could mask the early symptoms of skin cancer and delay seeking treatment.
  • Wash the tattoo: It is important to wash the tattoo regularly and gently with hypoallergenic, fragrance-free antibacterial soap. People should also lightly dry the skin with a paper towel before applying any cream.

Learn more about follow-up tips here.

It is normal to experience redness and swelling after getting a tattoo. However, people should see a healthcare practitioner if they notice any of the following unexpected symptoms:


If the tattoo is redder and more painful or has pus or open sores, it is a sign that it has become infected. If a person has a fever or chills, they should seek medical attention immediately.

Allergic reaction

People can develop an allergic reaction to a tattoo anytime, even years later.

A person should seek professional help if the tattooed skin itches, reddens, or swells, or has scaly patches or lumps.

If a person has a severe reaction in the form of difficulty breathing, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat, they should see an emergency doctor.

Skin disease

Tattoos can trigger or worsen skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, whether on tattooed skin or elsewhere on the body. If people notice any breakouts or changes in their skin, it is advisable to contact a healthcare practitioner.

A tattoo typically takes 2-4 weeks to heal. During this time, it is important that people follow the aftercare advice closely to ensure that their tattoo heals and to avoid complications.

If the tattoo develops infection or excessive inflammation, it can slow down the healing process. If a person is worried about how their tattoo is healing, they should seek medical advice.


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