The Tattoo Healing Process – Know Exactly What to Expect

Article written and proofread by NimeniTTT’s geeky sister with the support of Healthline, NCBI and USMS sources.

woman demon fresh new tattoo minutes after being done
Freshly done tattoo barely minutes into the healing process
fresh black tattoo 5 minutes after being done with the design of a Spanish woman with a cross crossing through her head
Tattoo 5 minutes after getting it done.

Before we dive into our in house tattoo healing guide and see what advice we can offer on how to take care of your new tattoo and make sure you shine that baby for years and years to come, please know that this guide is meant to help you with general information before getting a new tattoo. If you have health related concerns after getting the tattoo, that is information inquiry you should always address to your local medical professional. Now let’s get back on what we know you should normally expect from a tattoo healing process.

Observe how different the two tattoos can look even though the photos were both done minutes after the tattoo was done? Skin reacts differently and depending on a lot of factors you’ll read on below, here’s what you should know about the healing process.

So, you plan on getting your first tattoo! OMG, how exciting is that! Hope you’ll enjoy sporting it and sharing it with the rest of the world for the rest of your life.

Now, depending of the size of the tattoo, the place where the tattoo is situated, whether you’ll use some sort of anesthetic or not, it’s no easy feat to go through the painful experience of having your skin punctured over and over again until the design of the tattoo is finished. But it sure is a thrilling moment you will forever remember. After all, you’ll brand yourself with something incredibly meaningful which will give new meaning to your life.

solid black tattoo that is freshly done on a male individual's chest towards the right side
New solid black tattoo

You probably have a million questions like: how long does it take for a tattoo to heal? What is a normal tattoo healing time? What do tattoos look like when they are healing? And you’ll probably want to see some tattoo healing stages pictures. We’ll take them one by one and help you out.

How Long Does it Take for a Tattoo to Heal?

TL;DR: It takes about 2-6 weeks for a new tattoo to heal completely.

First of all, it is important to know how long it takes for a tattoo to heal, so you can properly care for that new body art. As you might already know, a tattoo is a permanent mark left on the skin by inserting ink, dyes and pigments into it. Tattoos are in fact made by inserting ink into the skin using multiple needles that push or inject the dyes into the skin. And some tattoos, depending on the size and location, take days to finish. The healing time for tattoos depends on many factors and not just size or location, but age and health of individual, whether the tatt is done professionally, and the person with the new tattoo is taking regular care of it.

So, as the healing process varies from person to person – unfortunately, not all skin is made equal – the healing does in fact start immediately after the tatt is done but it takes about two to six weeks for the healing to be complete. It begins with an inflammatory reaction, where the immune system reacts and releases histamines to attack bacteria or other foreign invaders. To help the skin continue its natural course, the most simple but most significant thing you can do to impact this is by just keeping the area clean and avoid picking at the scabbing or peeling your skin. Don’t peel your skin when the tattoo is starting to scab over. Let it take its time to heal.

The Best Ways to Help Heal Your New Tattoo

Step 1: Make sure you are getting all of the information you need from your tattoo shop

Be sure to ask for an aftercare guideline before you leave the tattoo artist’s shop. They might recommend a certain type of protection during and after healing cream and more individualized information, after all they have seen how your skin reacts and probably seen million of skin reactions by the time you’ve had your tattoo. Your skin can and might react in weird ways after getting a tattoo.

Step 2: Keep the skin clean by washing the tattoo twice a day

First thing’s first. Take a maximum 10 minutes shower right after getting the tattoo. Then make sure to keep the tatt clean by washing it with soap and water just twice a day. Bacteria should be warded off and the skin to stay clean, but overdoing it prevents the wound to close and that’s not good either. You might need to do it it a bit more often for example, if you are around or in some dust filled environment, but make sure you don’t over do it. So, in a normal living condition, washing your tatt as mentioned above, twice a day, should do it.

Step 3: What not to put on your tattoo and avoid irritating the skin

You should avoid direct sunlight, sweat, and lotions while you are healing from getting a new tattoo because all of the above can irritate the skin. And do not wear clothes that might stick to the tattoo.

Step 4: Be careful not to scratch it

A very important thing to remember is that you should not try to scratch your tattoo. Tattoos are an art form. They are permanent and should not be scratched off. Scratching can lead to infection and other complications.

Step 5: Apply moisturizer and/ or antimicrobial tattoo cream on the new tattoo

There are so many different types of tattoo creams on the market it’s hard to pick one. But what NimeniTTT usually recommends is plain ol’ coconut butter because of its antimicrobial properties. Coconut butter is claimed to have many health benefits and you can buy it at your local grocery store and at a much lower cost from specialty stores.

What do tattoos look like when they are healing?

colored new tattoo of a cat with big blue eyes and leather chocker
Colored new tattoo

Generally, as tattoos take a few weeks to heal completely, they look mostly scabby. And, as the healing stages generally follow the below timeline, this is what to expect. These are the tattoo healing stages day by day.

  • Day 1: The tattooed area will experience some redness or swelling, but this will subside as time goes by.
  • Day 3: The tattooed area will start to scab over and peel off, exposing new skin underneath that may look pink or red. This new skin may take up to 8 days to be created.
  • Day 10: The scab will fall off, revealing a smooth, new skin underneath.- A post-treatment care tip, as mentioned above, is to use a natural antiseptic such as coconut butter or an over-the-counter antiseptic such as Batracin or Neosporin and apply it twice a day for 7 days after the treatment.

If you’ll have concerns about an infection or that your tattoo isn’t healing properly, please contact a medical professional. If you want to remove your tattoo but don’t know what procedures are available, consult with your dermatologist and see if they can help you out with that.

Can I go swimming after getting a tattoo?

Many people are wondering if it is safe to go swimming after getting a tattoo. Short answer is NO, you cannot and should not! As Healthline put’s it in one of their articles on the subject: “Frolicking on the beach or at your local pool may seem like the perfect opp to show of some fresh ink, but don’t bust out the swimwear just yet. You should wait for your tattoo to fully heal — which can take at least 2 to 4 weeks — before swimming in any kind of water.” (Source)

While it might depend on your body’s reaction to the tattoo, essentially, a new tattoo is an open wound. The reason why you’re told to avoid open water, hot tubs, and pools until it heals and you don’t want any bacteria in the water to get to it. The risk of this happening is minimal but it’s worth noting that the infection you might get from the bacteria in the water can be life threatening. The aftercare guideline you were provided after getting the tattoo should let you know if it is ok to swim and I’m pretty sure it’s not.

How Long Does it Take for a Tattoo Scar (After the Tattoo Removal) to Heal?

Tattooing has become a popular trend, and it’s not surprising that people want to get inked. But what happens when they decide they can’t stand their new tattoo? Well, tattoo removal is a growing industry.

The process of tattoo removal can be expensive and painful, though. However, if you’re wondering how long does it take for a tattoo scar, after the tattoo removal, to heal, it can take up to 6 months for a scar to fully heal, the average time being around 3 months.


freshly healing tattoo on leg of what looks like a mask of an attractive looking woman that spits through the middle to show a the face of an alien
Tattoo healing – woman masked alien

If you were wondering how long does it take for a tattoo to heal, by reading the above you should’ve learned that the healing process of a tattoo is not instantaneous. The process is slightly painful and can take up to two to six weeks. Tattoo ink particles are injected into the skin, which may cause the body to produce an inflammatory reaction in order to remove it. It is important to keep your tattoo clean and dry, don’t go swimming, use ointments or creams as directed by your artist, and, avoid picking or scratching the skin around it.

If you want to see tattoo healing stages pictures, solid black tattoo healing process pictures and other images related to fresh new tatts, be sure to check NimeniTTT instagram or check out the latest tattoos done by NimeniTTT right from the footer of this tattoo website.

Once again, we want to emphasize on the fact that if you have health concerns such as a possible tattoo infection, please get in touch with a medical professional. In you are located in Bucharest at the moment, know that emergency healthcare in Romania here is free of charge even for non-residence (