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The last step in getting a tattoo is very important — taking care of the tattoo until it fully heals. Follow all of the instructions the studio gives you for caring for your tattoo to make sure it heals properly. Also, keep in mind that it's very important to call your doctor right away if you have bleeding, increased pain, or any signs of infection. To make sure your tattoo heals properly:

  • Keep a bandage on the area for up to 24 hours.
  • Avoid touching the tattooed area and don't pick at any scabs that may form.
  • Wash the tattoo with warm soap and water (don't use alcohol or peroxide — they'll dry out the tattoo). Use a soft towel to dry the tattoo — just pat it dry and be sure not to rub it.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment or a fragrance-free moisturizing lotion to the tattoo 2 to 3 times a day for a week. Don't use petroleum jelly — it may cause the tattoo to fade.
  • Showers are fine but try not to soak the tattoo in water until it fully heals. Stay away from pools, hot tubs, or long, hot baths.
  • Keep your tattoo out of the sun until it's fully healed.

Even after it's fully healed, a tattoo is more susceptible to the sun's rays, so it's a good idea to always keep it protected from direct sunlight. If you're outside often or hang out at the beach, it's recommended that you always wear a sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 on the tattoo. This not only protects your skin, but keeps the tattoo from fading.