Tattoo healing stages

Tattoos go through stages that are a natural and important part of the healing process. The healing process can be divided into four distinct stages:

1. Oozing and redness

Your tattoo artist will bandage your tattoo. They’ll tell you when to take it off, anywhere from a few hours to a week.

Once you remove the bandage you may notice fluid coming from your tattoo, or that the surrounding skin is very red. It’s also normal to see ink coming out of the tattoo, sometimes called “weeping.”

This will likely last for a week or so, but if the redness and oozing doesn’t subside after a week, you’ll want to check in with your doctor.

2. Itching

It’s not uncommon for wounds to itch as they heal — and a tattoo is essentially a wound.

In the first and second week, your new tattoo will likely start to itch and flake. Resist the urge to scratch it. Applying gentle lotion should help. You can also put an ice pack over your clothes to numb the itch.

If it gets unbearable, ask your doctor about taking an over-the-counter antihistamine.

3. Peeling

In the second, third, and fourth weeks, your tattoo will probably begin to peel. This skin is sloughing off as the body’s natural response to what it perceives as injury.

The tattoo itself won’t flake off. It’s just a normal part of the process. In fact, it shows your tattoo is healing well.

4. Aftercare

After the first month, your tattoo will look vibrant and fully healed. It’s easy to remember aftercare in the first few weeks, but it’s essential to keep it up for several months. Doing so will help the tattoo stay clean and look its best.

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