Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI — written by Zia Sherrell, MPH on in march 30, 2021

Tattoos are a popular form of body art by which a tattoo artist injects ink, pigment, or dye right into a person’s skin. While many factors can affect the healing process, it typically takes 2–4 weeks for a tattoo to heal.

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While the entire healing procedure can take numerous months, the initial healing generally takes a pair of weeks.

During this time, that is an essential that world follow the exactly aftercare instructions and also avoid or limit certain activities that might negatively influence recovery.

In this article, we will discuss the tattoo healing procedure and the factors that may impact it. We will also administer some aftercare tips.


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The healing procedure is different for every person and tattoo. Many sources suggest that tattoos generally take around 2 weeks to heal.

However, it might take approximately 4 weeks for the skin to fully recover. Some complications may expand the healing process.

The adhering to is what a human being can typically expect.

Day 1

Usually, individuals leave the tattoo studio with the tattooed area bandaged or wrapped in plastic. The tattoo artist will advise once to eliminate the dressing, which is commonly 1–2 hours later.

People regularly see clear liquid oozing indigenous the tattoo mixed with overabundance ink, i beg your pardon is normal. The skin may additionally feel sore and also be slightly warm and also red.

People need to clean their hands, gently wash the tattoo with fragrance-free soap, and also apply a water-based moisturizer.

Some tattoo artist may likewise recommend that civilization rewrap the tattoo because that the first night. This may prevent the tattoo from staining clothes or bedding or sticking to sheets when a human is asleep.

Week 1

After a couple of days, the tattoo should start to feel less sore and also red. A person may notification their tattoo appears duller 보다 it walk initially. This illustration is not a cause for concern but a authorize that the tattoo is healing.

Sometimes, as the skin is healing, human being may notification some scabbing. The is necessary not to choose the scabs, as this deserve to lead come scarring. In ~ this stage, world may additionally begin to notice skin emotion itchy. However, that is important to stop from scratching it.

Peeling is also a normal component of the healing process, together the skin rids chin of damaged cells. This deserve to start a couple of days after having actually the tattoo, together the skin exfoliates, and brand-new cells grow.

People may notice peeling or flaking skin as soon as washing the tattoo. They should proceed to wash and also moisturize the tattoo 1–2 times every day.

The first couple of days and also weeks are when allergic reaction to tattoo ink and also potential infections space most likely to occur.

Week 2

The scabs space usually harder in ~ this stage and may flake off naturally. The remains essential not to choose the scabs, together it deserve to disturb the basic ink.

Many tattoos might be close to healing at this point. Human being should an alert a palliation in redness and also itching.

However, if the tattoo is still sore and swollen, it may show inflammation and also infection. If this happens, a human being should top a healthcare skilled immediately.

Weeks 3 and also 4

Most of the scabs and also peeling skin should have actually gone in ~ this stage. Civilization should continue to moisturize the skin to hydrate it if the feels dry.

The external layers of the skin should have actually healed entirely, as they room the fastest to regenerate. The lower layers the the skin might take number of months to heal.


An necessary factor that influences the healing process is picking a reputable tattoo studio that practices great aseptic techniques.

Poor tattoo restroom can reason infections that slow-moving healing and also can result in severe health issues.

For example, older study from the Centers for condition Control and also Prevention (CDC) note that world can get infections indigenous unlicensed premises and contaminated ink.

A 2016 research investigating the risk of infection v tattoos suggests that 0.5–6% of people may experience infectious complications. Choosing a reputable tattoo studio and also closely following aftercare guidelines deserve to reduce the likelihood that infection.

Therefore, that is essential to pick a tattooist that adheres come state licensing laws. Federal law does no cover tattoo licensing. However, the national Conference that State Legislatures i have announced the demands that space in location in different states.

The artist’s skill also affects the healing time, as turbulent or negative techniques have the right to cause extr skin trauma.

The size and also location the the tattoo deserve to have an impact on healing as well. For example, tattoos close to joints or locations that flex will take longer to heal 보다 those in locations that execute not relocate as much. Also, bigger tattoos will certainly take much longer to heal than smaller ones.

Additionally, the kind of tattooing an equipment and shade of ink can also influence healing time. For example, red pigments are an ext likely to cause delayed hypersensitivity reactions and also slow the healing process.


Exposing a new tattoo to sunshine can reason fading, and also the ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause a tattoo come scab over, which can interfere with healing. Civilization should prevent sunbathing and other varieties of sunlight exposure for 1–3 mainly while the tattoo heals.

A tattoo is an open up wound and is therefore vulnerable come infection. Typically, before the wound heals completely, tattoo artists recommend world avoid details activities.

These can encompass strenuous activities that may involve sweating and also moving the tattoo, such as functioning out, or submerging the tattoo in water, such as having actually a bath or a swim.

In rarely cases, human being with new tattoos can contract severe infections from water, including strains of flesh-eating bacteria.


The American Academy of dermatology Association introduce the complying with tips to permit for suitable tattoo healing:

Moisturize with a an ideal cream: that is best to use a water-based cream or lotion to moisturize the tattoo and also surrounding skin if dry. World should not usage petroleum-based products, as they can reason fading.Protect the tattoo from the sun: Tattoos may fade if human being expose them to too lot sunlight. World should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen v an SPF the at least 30. That is recipient to use it at least 15 minutes prior to going outside and reapply that every pair of hours.Wash the tattoo: it is crucial to to wash the tattoo regularly and gently through fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, antibacterial soap. Civilization should additionally lightly beat the skin dry through a document towel before applying a cream.

Learn more about aftercare advice here.


It is typical to suffer some redness and swelling after having actually a tattoo. However, people should top a healthcare expert if they an alert any of the adhering to unexpected symptoms:

Infection

If the tattoo is an ext red and painful or has actually pus or open up sores, that is a sign it has end up being infected. If a person has a fever or chills, they must seek prompt medical attention.

Allergic reaction

People can develop an allergy reaction to a tattoo at any time, even years later.

A human should look for professional assist if the tattooed skin becomes itchy, red, or puffy or has actually scaly job or lumps.

If a person has actually a major reaction in the type of breathing difficulties, dizziness, or quick heartbeat, they must seek emergency medical attention.

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Skin disease

Tattoos may create or exacerbate skin conditions, such together psoriasis and eczema, either on the tattooed skin or elsewhere on the body. If people notice any flare-ups or transforms in your skin, that is recipient to contact a medical care professional.