How to Take Care of a Colored Tattoo That Was Just Done

by Cynthia Measom

Your skin needs as long as 45 days to recover from the damage of a colored tattoo, but it heals considerably within approximately one week and appears healed in approximately two weeks. Once the artist finishes emblazoning your new colored tattoo on your skin, the responsibility falls to you regarding aftercare. Your fresh tattoo will go through a healing stage that requires you to keep it clean and medicated so it won't become infected.

Items you will need

  • Mild soap
  • Lukewarm water
  • Clean soft cloth
  • Over-the-counter antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly
  • Fragrance and color-free moisturizing lotion
Step 1

Remove the bandage covering your colored tattoo within two hours of leaving the tattoo shop. If you leave it any longer, it may stick to your skin.

Step 2

Wash your hands with soap and water to clean them. Wash the colored tattoo with lukewarm water and mild soap applied to your clean hands. Rinse the tattoo with lukewarm water.

Step 3

Pat the tattoo gently with a clean soft towel to dry. Spread a thin layer of antibiotic ointment over the colored tattoo. If you apply too much -- it looks shiny and greasy -- wipe some off with a clean paper towel. Do not re-bandage; the tattoo needs to breathe.

Step 4

Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for approximately three to five days, two to three times per day. After three to five days, switch from antibiotic ointment to a fragrance-free, color-free moisturizing lotion. Keep cleansing and moisturizing for 10 days to two weeks.

Step 5

See a health care provider if you experience extreme redness, swelling drainage or pain at the tattoo site. (See Reference 3)


  • Ask the tattoo artist what kind of ointment he recommends. Some artists think petroleum jelly fades the ink.

    Spray the tattoo with rubbing alcohol if it becomes itchy during healing.


  • Avoid prolonged contact with water including showers, baths, hot tubs and swimming pools, because it can cause your scab to shed. Limit shower time to 10 minutes or less.

    Don't pick at the scab. It could damage your skin and the tattoo's color, and possibly result in infection.

    The tattoo may ooze while healing. Wear clothing over it when sleeping. If the clothing sticks to it, wet the clothing with water and it will separate from the tattoo.

    Avoid sun exposure while your tattoo is healing. Don't use tanning beds for four weeks after receiving a tattoo.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.