AFTERCARE

Tattoo Aftercare
  • Continue to blot your tattoo as long as it is bleeding or oozing plasma.  You want to avoid letting the fluid dry on the surface of the tattoo.
  • A few hours after receiving your tattoo, gently wash your tattoo with a very mild, unscented liquid soap.  Make sure you wash your hands before washing your tattoo to avoid transferring germs from your hands.  Rinse your tattoo thoroughly, being careful to avoid direct spray from your faucet or shower head.  Pat (don't rub) the tattoo dry with a clean paper towel, then let the tattoo air dry for about 15 minutes.
  • Once dry, apply a very thin layer of A & D ointment or Tattoo Goo to the tattoo.  For optimal healing, do not over-apply ointment.  If your tattoo looks shiny, you've used too much. 
  • Continue to wash your tattoo and apply new ointment 2-4 times per day until your tattoo is fully healed (5-14 days on average).
  • Your tattoo may being flaking in 3-5 days.  This is absolutely normal.  Let this dead skin fall off on it's own.  No picking!
What to Expect
  • You may have redness and swelling around your tattoo for the first 24-48 hours.  For the wrists, hands, ankles, and feet, it is normal for swelling to last up to 5-7 days.
  • If the tattoo is over a muscular area or in a bending area, it is common for the surrounding area to be painful as well.  Over large muscles groups such as those in the arms and legs, it is not uncommon to have shooting pains throughout the muscle group.  This usually subsides after 3-4 days.
  • A paper-thin scab forms over most tattoos.  This skin dries out and falls off on it's own within 5-14 days.  The skin that peels off will be colored the same as your tattoo; this does not mean your ink is falling out!
  • Slight oozing is normal for the first 24-72 hours.  Some ink will naturally reject out of the skin.  You can blot the area with a clean paper towel, but do not rub it.
  • Intense itching is normal, especially days 4-10. 
  • If the area was shaved, it is normal to develop a rash as the hair grows back.  Ingrown hairs tend to make itching more intense, but try your best not to scratch.  Warm compresses can help relax the skin so the hairs can grow through.
When to Seek Help
  • Signs of infection in a tattoo include a bright, shiny redness that radiates away from the edges of the tattoo, excessive swelling, extreme discomfort or pain, excessive oozing or oozing of pus, or a concave appearance within the tattoo (areas where the skin sinks in).  If you suspect infection in your tattoo, see your artist as soon as possible.  Your artist may refer you to your medical provider depending on the severity of the infection.
  • Contact your artist if you suspect allergic reaction.  Signs of allergic reaction include redness, swelling, a rash that may or may not contain bumps, intense itching, and sometimes pain.  Because your reaction could be due to an aftercare product, be sure to tell your artist any products you are using.
  • Thick scabbing is not normal.  Thick scabs can be caused by improper aftercare, infection, allergic reaction, or significant injury to the area.  Tattoos often heal poorly when scabs become too thick, so it's best to consult your artist for advice if you notice this problem.
Tips for Healing
  • Always wash your hands before touching anywhere on or around your tattoo, and keep anything dirty away from your tattoo.  Never allow others to touch your tattoo with dirty hands.
  • Keep your tattoo moist at all times.  Dry tattoos can literally crack open, and that can lead to scarring and increased risk of infection.
  • Keep your bedsheets and blankets clean, especially if your tattoo will be exposed while you are sleeping. 
  • Wear old clothing that you don't mind getting stained up, or wear something dark, the first few days after your tattoo.  It is normal for tattoos to ooze a bit for the first few days, and this can stain your clothing.  For the same reason, you will want to put old or dark sheets on your bed for the first few nights.
  • Use cold, wet compresses if itching becomes intense.  Applying refrigerated lotion can help as well.  Try your best not to scratch your tattoo.
  • Do call your artist with any questions or concerns.  We are more than happy to help you throughout your healing process.
  • Tell your artist as soon as possible if you notice any signs of allergic reaction or infection, or if you have any symptoms that seem unusual.
  • DO NOT use any products with perfumes, dyes, or harsh chemicals on your tattoo.  This includes soaps, lotions, body sprays, etc.  These products can irritate or dry out your tattoo.
  • DO NOT expose your tattoo to sunlight, whether real or artificial, during healing.  Once healed, apply sunscreen to your tattoo any time it will be exposed to sunlight to help prevent fading over the life of the tattoo.
  • DO NOT pick, scratch, or rub your tattoo.  You could cause excess scarring, irritation, or infection.
  • DO NOT soak your tattoo until you are fully healed.  Showering and washing by hand are fine, but avoid submerging your tattoo.  Bacteria levels in natural bodies of water put you at risk of infection, and the chemicals in treated water can destroy the look of your tattoo.  Even your bathtub harbors massive amounts of bacteria that you end up sitting in whenever you take a bath (not to mention the germs washed off your body-eww!)
Piercing Aftercare
  • Pick up some iodine-free sea salt from your local grocery store.  It can be found next to the regular salt in the spice aisle.  Do not buy iodized salt as iodine can be very drying to your piercing.
  • Make a sea salt solution by mixing 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt in 4 ounces of very warm water.
  • As an alternative, you can buy premade sterile saline solution in the wound care section of any pharmacy.  It is usually labled "saline wound wash" or "sterile saline solution" and should contain only purified water and 0.9% sodium chloride (something like this) .  If you cannot find saline in the wound care section, check the cold and flu section for saline nasal spray.  Always read the ingredient list to be sure it contains nothing but water and 0.9% sodium chloride.  Other ingredients, medications, and/or a higher sodium content can cause irritation in your piercing.  If you choose to use premade solution, warm the solution a bit before use for maximum benefit.

For body piercings:

  • Soak the piercing with the sea salt/saline solution for about 5 minutes 2-3 times per day.  For flat areas of the body like nipples or the navel, you can pour some solution into a clean shot glass or disposable bathroom cup, and invert the cup over the piercing.  For other areas of the body, it is easier to use a cotton ball, gauze, or a clean paper towel to dip in the solution and hold against your piercing.
  • After soaking, rinse the piercing with plain water to prevent salt build-up.

For oral piercings:

  • Rinse your mouth out gently with the sea salt/saline solution for about 30 seconds 2-3 times per day.
  • Rinse with plain water every time you eat, drink, or smoke.
  • Use ice and anything else cold to help with discomfort and swelling.  Letting ice chips melt on your tongue can be very soothing the first few days.
  • Make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day, being very gentle around the piercing.  When the piercing is no longer painful (about 1 week), gently brush your jewelry as well whenever you brush your teeth.  Plaque builds up on the jewelry just like it does on your teeth!
  • Mouthwash is a personal choice.  You do not have to use it to heal your piercing.  If you like to use mouthwash to freshen your breath, use an alcohol-free product during healing, and use it no more than twice a day.  Biotene is an excellent choice for use during healing.
What to Expect
  • Swelling and tenderness is very common for the first week or two.  The severity varies considerably between different piercings, even person to person.  Some piercings, like ear cartilage piercings, tend to stay swollen and tender for up to a few months.  Your piercer will let you know how long to expect swelling and tenderness to last with your particular piercing.
  • Bleeding off and on for the first few days, or dried blood around the piercing is not common with most piercings, but it is not abnormal if it happens to you.  Some people tend to bleed easier than others, and some medications and supplements can thin the blood and increase bleeding. Some piercings, like ear cartilage and genitalia, tend to bleed for a few days, especially after cleaning or trauma of any kind.
  • All piercings ooze a clear, whitish, or yellowish fluid.  This is not pus and does NOT indicate infection.  This is a normal discharge that is produced by your body to cleanse the wound.  Normal discharge is light in color, and tends to be thin, sticky, and stringy, similar to the consistency of nasal mucus.
  • This fluid dries as a crusty build-up around the edges of the piercing.  You can remove this build-up with a wet cotton swab when you soak your piercing, but otherwise leave it alone if it is not bothersome.  Do NOT pick off the crusty build-up!
  • Flare-ups off and on during the healing process are very common with certain piercings.  Ear cartilage, nostrils, navels, and surface piercings are all very finicky and prone to irritation, so it is normal to experience some ups and downs during the healing process.  As long as you are not showing signs of infection (see below), do not worry too much about periodic swelling, tenderness, or redness.  Of course, if you are unsure if what you are experiencing is normal, or if your problems last more than a few days at a time, contact your piercer for advice.
  • Sometimes piercings can migrate from their original position.  What this means is your body moves the jewelry to a location that is easier to heal around.  This is very common with ear cartilage, especially if you have a tendency to sleep on that ear.  Some piercings like the eyebrow and navel are placed close to the surface of the skin and are prone to outward migration.  It is common to place these piercings slightly "deeper" to anticipate some outward migration.  Your piercer will tell you if your particular piercing is prone to migration.
When to Seek Help
  • If your jewelry feels too tight or if your jewelry seems to "sink into" the piercing, you need to see your piercer as soon as possible.  This does not mean anything has gone wrong, but for whatever reason, you have swelled more than the average person, and you need longer or wider jewelry to accommodate the extra swelling.  Don't try to be brave and suck it up.  The longer you let it go, the more pain you will have (and it can get very painful) and the harder it will be to fix the problem.  Although it is rare, extreme swelling left untreated can cause the jewelry to completely embed beneath the skin.
  • See your piercer if you are showing signs of infection.  Signs of infection include excessive swelling, significant discomfort or pain, a dark and/or thick discharge, bloody discharge, a bright or shiny redness that radiates from the edges of the piercing, and warmth radiating from the wound.  Often irritation gets mistaken for infection, so it is best to have it examined if you are not sure.  Mild infections can often be treated at home, but moderate to severe infections will be refered to your health care provider.
  • If you suspect allergic reaction, contact your piercer immediately.  We have jewelry in a variety of materials for those who may be having a reaction to steel jewelry.  Signs of allergic reaction include redness, swelling,itching, excessive discharge, and sometimes bleeding.  Often with allergic reaction, it will look as if the skin is pulling back from the jewelry around the entrance and exit of your piercing.
  • If your piercing looks like it may be rejecting, see your piercer as soon as possible.  Rejection will look as though the pierced area keeps getting smaller and smaller, or it will appear as though the piercing is getting closer and closer to the edge of the skin.  Depending on the piercing, sometimes the skin will become so thin that you can see the metal bar through the skin.  Often rejection will also be accompanied by excessive redness, irritation, and oozing.  Sometimes the piercing can be saved by switching the style or size of jewelry, other times it cannot.  If rejection seems inevitable, your piercer will recommend jewelry removal and a second attempt once healed.  If your piercing appears to be rejecting, it is best to take it out before the body pushes it out completely.  A fully rejected piercing often leaves unpleasant scarring.
Tips for Healing
  • Keep the piercing and the surrounding area very clean.  Piercings can take quite a while to heal, and during the entire time you are vulnerable to infection.
  • ALWAYS wash your hands before touching anywhere near your piercing.  Dirty fingers are the most common cause of infections in piercings.
  • Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help with pain and swelling.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help some with pain, but since it is not an anti-inflammatory, it will not relieve any swelling.  If you have any medical conditions or take any medications or supplements, check with your doctor before taking ibuprofen.
  • Take care of yourself.  Eating a balanced diet, getting plenty of rest, and avoiding harmful substances like alcohol and tobacco will all help you heal better and faster.
  • Call your piercer with any questions or concerns.  We are committed to helping you through the entire healing process and beyond.
  • DO NOT submerge your piercing in water.  Showering is fine, but do not expose your piercing while swimming or soaking in the bathtub.  You can cover your piercing with a waterproof bandage if you are able to create a completely waterproof seal; otherwise, keep your piercing above water.
  • DO NOT turn or twist your jewelry.
  • DO NOT use any products with alcohol, peroxide, iodine, or benzalkonium chloride (the active ingredient in Bactine) to clean your piercings.  These chemicals are all too harsh and can significantly delay healing.
  • DO NOT use antibiotic ointments unless directed to do so by a doctor. 
  • DO NOT wash your piercing with soap.  You can wash around the area, but do not try to wash the piercing itself.
  • DO NOT use any lotions, ointments, perfumes, make-up, or hair care products around your piercing.
  • DO NOT pick off the crusty build-up that forms around your piercing (more information about this under "what to expect").

For oral piercings:

  • Buy a new toothbrush immediately.  Your old toothbrush is likely contaminated with an array of bacteria.  Rinse your toothbrush thoroughly and allow it to air dry each time you use it.
  • Eat whatever you feel comfortable eating, but you may need to stick to soft foods or bite-sized food for the first 3-5 days.  To avoid discomfort, avoid eating anything spicy, acidic, or very salty for the first week or two.
  • DO NOT allow other’s body fluids to come in contact with your piercing.
  • DO NOT share plates, cups, or eating utensils until you are fully healed.

For genital piercings:

  • You can resume sexual activity as soon as it is comfortable.  You may need to experiment with different positions to find what works best with your new piercing.  Listen to your body; if it hurts, don’t do it!
  • Wear barrier protection like condoms to prevent contact with body fluids, even if you are in a monogamous relationship.  Your partner’s body fluids could give you an infection in your piercing.  Be especially careful to avoid contact with saliva.
  • Make sure both you and your partner wash your hands before any sexual activity.
  • Inspect the piercing after sexual activity to be sure all is well.  If the piercing has been injured or if there is a problem with the jewelry, it is better to address the issue quickly.