Tips: Taking Care Of Your Tattoo

Written by WD Staff, Skin Care Specialists on June 23, 2015 11 Comments

tattoo care tips

Tattoos went from taboo to mainstream over the past couple of decades, becoming popular among men and women of all walks of life. Today, more than a third of all Americans between the ages of 18-25 have at least one tattoo. That number jumps to over 40% for individuals 26 to 40.

Tattoos are a very personal (and at times expensive) form of permanent body art. Without proper care tattoos can fade or become drastically distorted. Additionally, the underlying and surrounding skin in tattooed areas typically experience increased aging symptoms like dryness and wrinkle development.

Here are some tips for keeping your tattoo looking its best:

Moisturize Properly

Many people notice that their tattooed skin feels overly dry. Instead of using petroleum based products (like Vaseline) opt for high quality water based moisturizing lotions or creams. Petroleum has been known to cause ink to fade.

Practice Safe Sun Exposure

Ultraviolet (UV) light is the arch nemesis to tattoo ink: tattoos that are overly exposed to UV radiation from the sun fades ink. Even worse, skin cancer is often difficult to diagnosis on tattooed skin. Protect your tattooed skin by using a broad spectrum, high SPF sunscreen.

Don’t Tan

Just like the sun, tanning beds will also overexpose your tattoo to UV light causing fading and distortion of your tattoo.  In addition to being bad for your tattoo, tanning beds and tanning in the sun are dangerous for the overall health of your skin and dramatically increase your risk of skin cancer. If you really want a tan opt for a high-quality self-tanner.

Watch for Skin Reactions

Periodically check your tattoos for signs of change or a bad reaction to the ink. Some individuals may experience skin issues after getting a tattoo such as allergic reactions to the ink, either immediately after getting a tattoo or years later.  If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary like excessive itching, swelling, redness, etc. schedule an appointment with your dermatologist immediately.

Limit Tattoos to Mole-Free Skin

Tattoos can make skin cancer diagnosis more difficult, specifically identifying melanoma or other forms of skin cancers at an early stage. When considering the perfect place for your next tattoo shy away from areas of skin that already have moles or pigmented lesions.

Tattoo Removal

Following the above tips will help you extend the life of your tattoo. However, even with proper care tattoos will eventually fade overtime. In fact, distortion in one form or the other is the biggest reasons our patients come in for tattoo removal. In this situation many people choose to get their tattoo updated, covered up, or removed entirely.

If you are considering tattoo removal do your research. There are multiple do-it-yourself tools online that can be very dangerous and leave you with permanent scars. Choose a reputable clinic that is experienced with tattoo removal. Anticipate multiple treatments for complete removal of your tattoo, and avoid sun exposure and UV rays in the area of treatment throughout the removal process.

WD Staff

A united group of skin care specialists from Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, Austin's leader in Dermatology and Plastic Surgery. Articles posted under WD staff are authored through combined contributions from our entire team, including Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, Aestheticians, Physician Assistants, Aesthetic Nurses, and Patient Coordinators.

11 Responses to “Tips: Taking Care Of Your Tattoo”

  1. Avatar Dolores says:

    I didn’t realize that tattoos could fade or get distorted. I thought that they were more permanent. It’s good that I stumbled upon this before getting any tattoos, that way I can be ready to take care of my tattoo.

  2. Avatar Michael says:

    I agree with the suggestion not to just use vaseline. Although, when using high-quality products, I have heard that you should get scent free and hypoallergenic lotions. My thanks to the author for taking the time to address some of the concerns that I have had recently bout tattoo’s

  3. Avatar Simon says:

    I didn’t know that UV light could overexpose and fade a tattoo, is it just the pigment in the ink that begins to fade or does it have something to do with a reaction in the skin as well? Regardless, it is good to know as my wife has been thinking about getting one and she could use all of the safety tips she can get. She also isn’t allergic to any of the inks as far as I’m aware, but I would like to know why there might be a delayed allergic reaction, requiring you to check on the tattoo even years later.

  4. Avatar Wayne says:

    Hello, just wanted to tell you, I liked this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  5. Avatar Max says:

    I like that you offer tips on caring for a tattoo even though you do removals! Not all tattoos need to be removed so I applaud you on that

  6. Avatar Helena says:

    Thanks again for the blog article. Cool!

  7. Avatar Kylie says:

    Appreciate this!

  8. Avatar Albert says:

    These simple tips are really simple. I have used all these tips and i am surprised that these all works fine.

  9. Avatar Gerty Gift says:

    I liked your advice to limit tattoos to mole-free skin. I’ve been trying to figure out the best placement for any tattoos that I might get, but I do have a lot of moles. It’s definitely going to be a huge help in finding the optimal place to place a tattoo. Thank you!

  10. Avatar Gerty says:

    Thank you for talking about how you need to moisturize properly. I’ve been thinking about getting a tattoo for some time, but I haven’t learned about how I should prepare for before and after. It is good to know that this will help to keep the ink looking great and help the skin heal.

  11. Avatar Shayla says:

    I never knew that 40% of individuals between the ages of 26 and 40 have a tattoo! My husband and I are both thinking of getting our first tattoos for our thirtieth birthdays next month. Each of us has a different design in mind, so hopefully we can find a great tattoo artist in our area who is great with custom tattoos. Thanks for the information!

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