Now that the excitement and the terrifying idea of getting a tattoo is over and you have managed to get yourself inked, another million questions invade your mind — How soon will the tattoo ‘heal’? How long do I keep the bandage on? Will the sun damage my newly acquired tattoo? To put an end to all your worries and doubts here are all the things you need to know after you’ve got yourself a tattoo for the first time. It is extremely important to care for it till it has completely healed.

Tattoo artists Vikas Malani and Mickey Malani have summed up a few care tips that need to be followed as a ritual. Right after the design has been tattooed on your skin and the bandage put by your artist let it remain there for at least 24 hours or as directed by your tattoo artist. The tattoo needs complete seclusion because it is essential that the epidermal layers seal the pigment. After the bandage has been removed, wash the tattooed area with cool or warm water. Use a mild or plain soap to wash the area and pat it without rubbing as that may scratch the area.

Make sure all residues are removed, but do not rub too hard so as to irritate the tattooed area. This prevents you from scratching and causing harm. Apply protective ointment for the first 3 days of the aftercare process. After 3 days, start using non-scented hand lotion or moisturizer. Do not put a lump of ointment on the tattoo as the tattoo needs to breathe. Do not use scented lotions as they might contain alcohol and dry out the tattoo. Do this typically two to three times in a day. Do not touch it directly as the tattoo might get infected.

The sun is considered a tattoo’s biggest enemy. So protect yourself from the sun as much as possible. The sun can blister and cook the new epidermal cells trying to heal over the pigment and protect it from getting bleached out. Excessive sun exposure can cause the tattoo to fade at a rapid level. Also, avoid swimming or soaking in water in any ways for the first few weeks. The tattoo might be sloshed because of too much exposure to water.

Scabbing is a very natural process. During this time flakes peel off from the skin after the tattoo has healed. Do not worry about the scabs. But ask your artiste and make sure to take precautions so that over scabbing does not happen, which may lead to discoloration and lose clarity of the tattoo. If the tattoo causes a lot of irritation or you feel it is infected then visit the doctor immediately. This can be avoided if you take the right precautions and appropriate care of the tattoo.