Swimming After Getting a Tattoo: How Long Do You Have to Wait?

How long after a tattoo can you swim
Can't find reliable information about how long after tattooing is swimming allowed? In our article, you will find detailed information confirmed by the best dermatologists.

Have you got a new tattoo and are looking for information on how long after tattooing is swimming allowed? Or are you going to get a tattoo and want to know all the nuances of care? There are many opinions about tattoo care, so it becomes more and more difficult to find the right information.  

In our article, we described in detail how long you can swim after a tattoo session, the consequences of swimming with an unhealed tattoo, what rules should be followed when taking a shower, signs of a healed tattoo, and tips for speeding up the healing process.

We have relied on the opinions of the best tattoo artists and dermatologists to provide you with useful and reliable information.

Can you swim with an unhealed tattoo?

We strongly recommend not swimming with unhealed tattoos in ponds/ocean/sea/chlorinated water/hot tub showers, etc. Fresh tattoos are essentially open wounds, so there is an increased risk of infection and bacteria, which is especially common in open water. 

Also, prolonged soaking of your tattoo can wash the pigment from under the skin and damage its appearance.

πŸ•› After what period of time can you start swimming?

There are many opinions about this, but the American Dermatologists Association recommends waiting 4-6 weeks before swimming in chlorinated water, saltwater, and hot tubs. During this period of time, the tattoo heals and swimming becomes safe.

If you have redness, blisters, itching, pain, or other signs of infection during the healing process, be sure to see a doctor and postpone swimming until the tattoo is completely healed.

❗ The consequences of swimming with a fresh tattoo

Swimming with an unhealed tattoo can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • Getting an infection or bacteria

A tattoo is an open unhealed wound, so the risk of infection increases many times over. Swimming in saltwater, chlorinated water, and even a long shower under running water can lead to infection, which can have very negative consequences, such as fever, pain, swelling, pus, and others. This not only causes inconvenience but also delays the healing process of the tattoo.

  • Skin irritation

This point is especially true for swimming in chlorinated water. After tattooing, the skin remains very sensitive for some time, so chlorine or other disinfectant chemicals can cause itching, rashes, and so on.

  • Faded tattoo and deformation of the contours

Whereas taking a hot shower, the tattoo is steamed, the pores extend, and pigment may come out and the tattoo will fade. Also, the high temperature of the water increments bloodstream, which can lead to the discoloring of the tattoo and distortion of the contour. Chlorinated and saltwater can also cause discoloration and dullness of the tattoo.

The above consequences are the most common reactions to being in the water with a fresh tattoo. Since each organism is unique, symptoms and effects may differ.

πŸ’§ What if you accidentally wet a new tattoo?

If you just wet the tattoo, then there is nothing to worry about. If exposed to salt or chlorinated water, wash the tattoo with warm running water and antibacterial soap, then remove excess moisture with a dry paper towel. 

The most important thing is that if moisture accidentally gets on the tattoo, quickly get rid of it. Its prolonged exposure can have negative consequences, such as infection and others.

What about taking a shower?

Unlike swimming with a fresh tattoo in a pool, hot tub, or sea, taking a shower is necessary and permissible, but there are a few nuances and limitations:

  1. Find out from the tattoo master how long you can take a shower after a tattoo session, as it varies depending on the size of the tattoo and the type of bandage applied.
  2. Do not rub the tattooed area of the skin with a washcloth. This can damage the skin, cause irritation or infection.
  3. Use gentle soap without fragrances, and preferably antibacterial. This is very important because the right soap will help prevent dry skin in the area with fresh tattoo and will not cause irritation.
  4. Try to wet the tattoo as little as possible to avoid infection. You shouldn’t direct a strong stream of water on the tattoo, so as not to damage the skin.
  5. Do not shave the skin with a fresh tattoo, as this will damage the unhealed skin, design, and increase the risk of infection.

How to find out that the tattoo has already healed and swimming is allowed?

The following factors indicate that the tattoo is completely healed:

  1. The texture of the tattooed area of skin is the same as on other areas of the body
  2. The area of ​​skin with a tattoo does not peel off and does not have scabs
  3. The tattoo has a clear uniform appearance without clouding and fading
  4. Lack of burning and itching
  5. Touching the tattooed area does not cause discomfort

Even though the healing time of a tattoo can be less than 4-6 weeks, it is recommended not to swim with a tattoo until the expiration of this period.

It is also important to take care of the tattoo after it has healed. It is necessary to regularly moisturize the tattoo area and use SPF with a high level of protection (SPF 30+).

πŸ’‘ Tips on how to speed up the healing process

The following tips will help you speed up the healing process of your tattoo:

1._Prepare your body for a tattoo

Before getting a tattoo, it is advisable to drink enough water, limit smoking and alcohol, eat healthy food, and do not consume blood-thinning foods (such as garlic, ginger, grape seed extract, etc.). These rules should be adhered to during the healing of the tattoo too.

2. Regularly cleanse the area of ​​the body with a tattoo

It is very important to clean the tattoo several times a day with warm water and antibacterial mild soap.

3.  Use healing tattoo ointments

Ointments for tattoos not only moisturize it but also promote faster healing.

Check with your tattoo artist before using any product!

4.  Wear non-tight clothing

This is to ensure that the clothes do not stick to the tattoo and do not injure it. Also, “airing” the tattoo promotes faster healing.

5. Reduce physical activity during tattoo healing

This is to prevent sweat from getting onto the tattooed skin area, as the risk of infection increases.

6.  Avoid direct sunlight on the tattoo

Direct sunlight on a tattoo can cause discoloration both during and after healing. 4-6 weeks after tattooing, we recommend that you regularly apply sunscreen so that your new tattoo will please you with an attractive look.

Summary 

If you have just made a tattoo and want to heal it as quickly and safely as possible, you should refrain from swimming in pools, sea, ocean, bath for 4-6 weeks. During this period, the tattoo heals completely, and swimming becomes safe. Remember that a tattoo is an open wound at first, so it is more susceptible to infections, bacteria, and so on. 

Even if your tattoo has healed in less than a month or a month and a half, you should still refrain from bathing during this period, as skin regeneration occurs around this time.

FAQs

πŸ’§ How long after a tattoo can you swim in chlorinated water?

Swimming in chlorinated water is recommended 4-6 weeks after tattooing. During this time, the tattoo heals and swimming becomes safe.
You can find more information in our article.

❓ What happens if you swim with a new tattoo?

Swimming with an unhealed tattoo can lead to infection or bacteria, skin irritation, fading of the tattoo, and deformation of the contour. We strongly recommend refraining from swimming for 4-6 weeks for complete tattoo healing.
More detailed information is presented in our article.

πŸ“Œ How do I know my tattoo is healed?

The following factors testify to the complete healing of the tattoo: the texture of the tattooed area of ​​skin is the same as on other areas of the body; the area of ​​skin with a tattoo does not peel off and does not have scabs; the tattoo has a clear uniform appearance without clouding and fading; lack of burning and itching; touching the tattooed area does not cause discomfort.
You can find more information in our article.

🚿 Can I shower with a new tattoo?

Yes, taking a shower is not only allowed but necessary. However, you should wet the tattoo as little as possible, do not rub the tattoo with a washcloth, and use a mild, odorless antibacterial soap.
In our article, you can find more detailed information.

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Mark Arago

Founder of Ink-Match,
CEO of the Foundation for the Rights of People with Body Modifications

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