How Long Does it Take for a Tattoo to Heal?


First and foremost, congratulations on your new tattoo! The process of getting a tattoo can be exciting, nerve-wracking, and exhilarating all at the same time. However, it is important to understand that getting a tattoo is not just a one-time procedure. The healing process is equally as important as the tattooing process, and it requires a lot of care and attention.

In this article, we will be discussing how long it takes for a tattoo to heal. We will cover the different stages of healing, the factors that affect the healing process, and the do’s and don’ts of tattoo aftercare. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of what to expect during the healing process and how to take care of your tattoo properly.

The Stages of Healing

There are three main stages of tattoo healing: the initial stage, the peeling stage, and the fully healed stage.

Stage Length
Initial Stage 1-2 weeks
Peeling Stage 1-2 weeks
Fully Healed Stage 4-6 weeks

The Initial Stage

During the initial stage, your tattoo will be raw and sensitive. It is important to keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. Your tattoo artist will most likely have wrapped your tattoo in cling film or a bandage, which should be kept on for the first few hours. Once you remove the wrapping, you must wash your tattoo gently with lukewarm water and a mild soap. Do not use hot water or harsh soaps, as they can irritate the skin.

After washing, pat the area dry with a clean towel and let it air dry for a few minutes. Once the area is completely dry, apply a thin layer of ointment or moisturizer to keep the skin from drying out. Repeat this process 2-3 times a day for the first week.

The Peeling Stage

After the first week, your tattoo will start to peel and flake. This is normal and indicates that the healing process is progressing. Do not pick or scratch the area, as this can damage the tattoo and prolong the healing process.

Continue to wash and moisturize the area 2-3 times a day. You can switch to a fragrance-free lotion instead of ointment if you prefer. Avoid exposing the area to direct sunlight, water, or rubbing against clothing.

The Fully Healed Stage

After 4-6 weeks, your tattoo should be fully healed. The area should no longer be flaking or peeling, and the skin should be smooth and soft. You can now resume your regular activities without worrying about damaging your tattoo.

It is important to note that everyone’s healing process is different. Some people may heal faster or slower than others, depending on various factors.

Factors That Affect Healing

There are several factors that can affect the healing process of a tattoo. These include:

  • The location of the tattoo
  • The size of the tattoo
  • The quality of the tattoo
  • Your overall health
  • Your skincare routine
  • Your lifestyle habits

It is important to keep these factors in mind when getting a tattoo and during the healing process. Taking care of your skin and overall health can help speed up the healing process and ensure that your tattoo looks its best.


Q: Can I go swimming during the healing process?

A: No, it is best to avoid swimming or soaking in water during the healing process. This can cause the tattoo to become infected or fade prematurely.

Q: Can I exercise during the healing process?

A: Yes, you can exercise, but avoid activities that cause excessive sweating or rubbing against the tattoo. Make sure to shower and clean the area thoroughly after exercising.

Q: What is the best lotion to use during the healing process?

A: It is recommended to use a fragrance-free lotion or ointment, such as Aquaphor or A&D ointment.

Q: Can I cover my tattoo with clothing during the healing process?

A: Yes, you can cover your tattoo with clothing, but make sure it is loose and not rubbing against the tattoo.

Q: Can I use sunscreen on my tattoo?

A: Yes, you can use sunscreen on your fully healed tattoo. Make sure to use a high-quality sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Q: Can I drink alcohol during the healing process?

A: It is best to avoid alcohol during the healing process, as it can thin the blood and slow down the healing process.

Q: Can I shave over my tattoo?

A: It is recommended to avoid shaving over the tattoo while it is healing, as this can cause irritation and infection.

Q: What should I do if my tattoo becomes infected?

A: If you suspect that your tattoo has become infected, seek medical attention immediately. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, pain, and discharge.

Q: Can I use petroleum jelly on my tattoo?

A: It is not recommended to use petroleum jelly on your tattoo, as it can clog pores and prevent the skin from breathing.

Q: Should I cover my tattoo while sleeping?

A: It is not necessary to cover your tattoo while sleeping, but you can if it makes you more comfortable. Make sure the bedding is clean and not rubbing against the tattoo.

Q: Can I take a bath during the healing process?

A: It is best to avoid taking baths or soaking in water during the healing process. Showers are recommended instead.

Q: Can I go tanning during the healing process?

A: It is best to avoid tanning or exposing the tattoo to direct sunlight during the healing process. The UV rays can damage the tattoo and cause it to fade prematurely.

Q: How can I prevent my tattoo from fading?

A: To prevent your tattoo from fading, avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, tanning beds, and harsh chemicals. Use high-quality sunscreen when exposed to sunlight and moisturize regularly.


Now that you have a better understanding of how long it takes for a tattoo to heal, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your tattoo heals properly. Remember to keep the area clean and moisturized, avoid exposing it to direct sunlight and water, and pay attention to any signs of infection. By taking care of your tattoo during the healing process, you can ensure that it looks its best for years to come.

If you have any further questions or concerns about tattoo aftercare, do not hesitate to contact your tattoo artist or a medical professional.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult a medical professional if you have any concerns about your health or the healing process of your tattoo.

Additionally, the information provided in this article may not apply to every individual, as everyone’s healing process and tattoo are different. It is important to listen to your body and follow the advice of your healthcare provider and tattoo artist.

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