Tattoo Healing Process – Stages, Aftercare, Quick Recovery Tips For 2023

Published On: September 16, 2021Last Updated: December 7, 2022By Categories: Health & Wellness
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Tattoos can be an excellent addition to your personality, boosting your confidence and presenting your character through a new dimension. However, getting a tattoo is painful in the initial stages, requiring you to know about the tattoo healing process.

While many people think that the most challenging part in getting a tattoo is the initial pain, the healing process also has its significance. Although the pain may diminish, you have to heal the tattoo carefully to make it look the way you wanted it to. Today, we’ll discuss the stages of the tattoo healing process, tips to speed up the progression, common dos and don’ts, and some frequently asked questions.

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Why Is The Tattoo Healing Process Important?

After the painful tattoo designing, the tattoo healing process holds great significance. During this phase, you need to preserve and care for the tattoo while it heals to present the initially intended look.

The process begins with extra care for the skin. Commonly, the skin would peel, flake, and feel itchy for the coming weeks. To prevent this and maintain the effectiveness of the tattoo healing process, you have to wash, dry, and moisturize the skin gently. Therefore, tattoo aftercare is equally vital to ensure the healing phase has been completed successfully.

Your body naturally perceives the task to heal the tattoo quickly. As the needle pierces your skin, the immune system regards the tattoo as an open wound and seeks to cure it immediately. Therefore, you need to play a complementary role to assist your body in the tattoo healing process. Your primary tasks include avoiding the skin from any infection and trauma and keeping it healthy.

Proper skincare shows a faster tattoo healing process for many people. Once the designer pierces the tattoo into your skin, it would be sore and oozy. To quickly return it to its normal state, it’s crucial to know the tattoo healing process.

Tattoo Healing Process

When getting a tattoo, typically, the most challenging phase is going through the pain. Although it is true, the healing process takes considerable time and brings many discomforts.

Every person undergoes different tattoo stages of healing. However, four typical steps everyone goes through are.

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1. First Week

First Week

The first stage in the tattoo healing process lasts around a week, although your health can increase or decrease this phase’s duration. Moreover, this stage’s timeline may extend further without proper skincare. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on aftercare during this stage.

Within the first two days of your visit to the artist, the tattoo healing process begins. Upon finishing the tattoo, your designer might clean it with an antibacterial solution and wrap a bandage around it. Furthermore, they might advise you to leave the bandage intact for at least 24 hours. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to keep wearing the plaster through the first night. Unconsciously rubbing the tattoo against the bed and sheets will only increase the risk of skin infection and delay the tattoo healing process.

Once you feel oozing has stopped, you can remove the bandage. Keeping the aftercare instructions that you’ve received from your artist, carefully clean your tattoo. You’ll notice fluids such as ink, plasma, and blood, once you remove the bandage, but do not worry.

Wash these fluids away with soap to remove them. However, ensure that the soap is fragrance-free and ideal for sensitive skin.

During this stage’s first few days, the tattoo healing process would become visible. The redness and swelling lessen, and eventually, when the inner skin layer begins to reform, a crust appears. Take special care of the crust, as it’s essential in the healing procedure. However, the crusty skin would be very itchy due to flaky scabs falling off.

The itchiness would continue to grow until it reaches the fourth day, when it becomes intolerable. You must resist the temptation and let the scabs come off naturally, or else you’ll develop a skin infection. If the itching is too much to bear, apply lotion to subdue it.

During the first week, a vital step you should take is to keep the tattoo moisturized to assist in the healing activity. Apply moisturizing lotions to help soften the skin, reduce pain, and keep the skin hydrated.

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2. Second Week

Second Week

The following tattoo healing process stage begins in the second week. A reduction in swelling characterizes this phase. However, as the recovery is in progress, you may experience soreness around the tattoo.

As the skin restoration accelerates, you’ll experience even more itching than in the first stage. It’s normal because more skin is now healing itself and at a faster pace. We know how hard this stage can be, but we strongly advise against rubbing your skin. Although itching during this phase can lead to intense temptation, consider applying pressure. By only pressing the skin around the tattoo and not touching it can avoid skin infection and make you feel good at the same time.

Moreover, the use of good-quality moisturizers may also be beneficial against itchiness. By removing the dryness, these products take away the itchiness. Natural products are also a superb option to combat itchiness.

Note that during this tattoo healing process stage, the scabs will still be there. That’s another reason why itching increases during this phase. The best approach is to clean your tattoo and do not let it dry constantly. Also, do not let the tattoo become dirty or grimy.

Consider spending on quality lotions and moisturizers. Hydrating your skin is the key to quickly healing through this stage. The moisturizing products do just that, speeding up the healing phase through natural ingredients, oils, vitamins etc.

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3. Third And Fourth Week

Third And Fourth Week

The third stage of the tattoo healing process lasts two weeks. Most people enter into this phase after the second week, and it lasts until the fourth week. Upon entering this stage, you begin to feel comfortable again. The scabs keep regularly disappearing, leading to an overall reduction in itching. To facilitate yourself in this healing stage, you must continue keeping the tattoo hydrated. A good way is to persist in the use of moisturizing products.

During this phase, the skin generates a protective layer, causing a bit of obscurity. Therefore, do not worry if your tattoo begins to lose its color in the third week. It is mainly due to the protective layer blurring and dulling the tattoo. This layer’s primary task is to protect your skin from the sunlight. The sun rays can penetrate your tattoo and spoil its colors, and this protective layer avoids just that.

If you’ve followed the instructions correctly and took good care of your tattoo, it should completely heal by the end of the fourth week. The tattoo would appear as you wanted it, and the distorted appearance due to the protective layer should be gone. Although it may seem the process is over because the tattoo now looks great, there is one last crucial stage still left.

5. Aftercare


The last stage in the tattoo healing process is aftercare. Although many people deem it unimportant, this phase holds immense significance. Therefore, you should never take this period lightly and divert equal effort to it as you did to other stages. This stage is more of the continued maintenance of the other phases. The aftercare ensures that the efforts you’ve put in for four weeks do not go to waste. That’s why this period requires extra care than usual.

During tattoo aftercare, the key is to take extensive care of your tattoo. Begin by ensuring that the tattoo never gets dry. Continue to apply moisturizing products at least once a day. Moreover, avoid unnecessary sun exposure, as that can be detrimental to your tattoo during this stage. A wise option would be to avoid going out in the sun and not overexposing the tattoo. Alternatively, you can use sunscreen to protect the tattoo.

With the end of stage three, the risk of catching a skin infection is over. However, that does not mean you can stop caring about the tattoo. Like any other thing, tattoos depreciate with time. The moment the artist injects the ink into your body, it begins to lose its color and charm. Not taking proper care of the tattoo would just speed up the decaying process. Hence, if you wish to proudly display the tattoo in its full glory for many years to come, focus on this stage.

How Long Does it Take For a Tattoo to Heal?

Now that we know the stages involved in the tattoo healing process, we can deduce how much time, on average, it takes a tattoo to heal. Generally, tattoos take around 2-3 weeks to heal. However, this can vary from person to person depending on their skin health and other factors.

If you want to remain within this timeframe and heal your tattoo quickly, ensure following the instructions for each stage. Negligence in care at any stage can hinder the healing and even infect your skin.

Moreover, aftercare is crucial to healing the tattoo properly. While the tattoo may appear and feel healed, it can take up to 6 months for the tattoo to cure completely without aftercare.

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  • Aftercare Tips

Now that we know that the aftercare stage is essential to getting the best results let’s explore some tips and tricks to make the most out of this phase.

Some actions you take can determine the speed and result of your tattoo’s healing. Moreover, observing them in the aftercare phase can help uphold the healthy outcome in the long run. Here are some tips and tricks for the tattoo healing process and aftercare period.

  • Moisturize


If not enough said already, moisturizing the tattoo is the best thing you can do during the healing and aftercare stage. Upon completing the tattoo, your artist might provide you with a lotion to keep it hydrated. Once that finishes, or if you didn’t receive one, consider using other ointments like Eucerin and Lubriderm.

Alternatively, you can go toward natural solutions. Pure coconut oil is a perfect choice to keep the skin hydrated while also being antimicrobial. Whatever moisturizing product you choose, ensure that it’s fragrance-free to avoid skin irritation. Keeping the tattoo moisturized during the healing phase also helps ideally with itching.



Another essential tip is to keep your tattoo clean. An uncleaned tattoo can invite skin infection, which not only slows down the tattoo healing process but also spoils the tattoo. The best way to keep the tattoo clean is by using a fragrance-free and hypoallergenic soap occasionally. Consider using distilled water if the supply to your area is not safe to drink or limited. Alternatively, you can boil the water first to kill germs before washing the tattoo. A neat tip to remember is to wait until the water has dried before applying the moisturizer.

  • Avoid Picking

Avoid Picking

For a smooth tattoo healing process and aftercare, do not pick at your tattoo. During the different stages, your tattoo develops scabs that itch terribly. However, you must never pick at your tattoo just for a moment’s satisfaction. Scratching it could change the tattoo’s look or, worse, can lead to scarring. To tackle the itchiness, consider the moisturizer use or applying pressure around the tattoo.

  • Avoid Sun Exposure

Another common problem during the tattoo healing process is tattoo fading. The primary cause of this is direct sun exposure to the tattoo. Therefore, another essential tip worth remembering is never leaving your house without covering the tattoo against the sun. You can also choose sunscreen to avoid sun exposure and show off those excellent tattoo colors.

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Signs Your Tattoo Didn’t Heal Properly

Even though your tattoo healing process is over, sometimes it may not heal properly. The following signs indicate whether or not your tattoo has fully healed.

  • Redness


The first familiar sign that your tattoo didn’t heal properly is redness. For the first few days since you get the tattoo done, it’s usual to witness redness around it. However, if the redness persists after the first few weeks, it means the tattoo is not healing correctly. Moreover, swelling and puffiness on the tattoo are also common signs of improper healing.

  • Swollen Skin

Swollen Skin

Just as the tattoo may swell to show it hasn’t healed properly, the skin around it may do the same. It’s pretty standard for the skin to be puffy in the first few days, but the swelling should quickly disappear. Furthermore, your skin should be inflammation-free to indicate healthy tattoo healing. If the skin swelling does not disappear, it tells the skin is allergic to the ink.

  • Visible Fluid

Visible Fluid

Another symptom signifying that your tattoo hasn’t wholly cured is liquid oozing out of it. This fluid takes various colors but is common in green and yellow. The liquid’s breakout is usual in the first week when the tattoo is still sore and red. However, if this issue persists beyond the first week, we recommend visiting your doctor, as the tattoo is not properly recovering.

  • Scarring


As the ink pierces your skin, the tattoo shares the significance of a wound. Naturally, when all scars heal, they form a layer upon themselves. If scabs do not appear over the tattoo during the healing process, it will turn into a scar. Therefore, lack of scabbing and visible scars are another sign that your tattoo is not curing well.

  • Flu

flue - tattoo healing process

Another sign that your tattoo didn’t heal is flu symptoms like fever and cold. If you experience these conditions, ensure you’re following the correct instructions for the tattoo to cure. Moreover, flu is common when your skin becomes allergic to the ink.

  • Persistent Itching

Breaking out in hives and excessive itching is another sign of improper tattoo healing. Consult your doctor right away when you witness hives. Furthermore, persistent itching may indicate skin allergy. Such an allergy does not always appear immediately after getting the tattoo; it might even take a couple of months.

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5 Tips To Quicken The Tattoo Healing Process – How To Heal A Tattoo Faster

Although the tattoo healing process takes up to 3 weeks to heal and enter the aftercare stage, there are some tips you can apply to speed up the recovery. Like any other wound, a tattoo needs time and care to cure and appear fully, as you wanted it. Following are some instructions to reduce the curing time.

1. Daily Cleaning

Daily-Cleaning - tattoo healing process

The core part of the tattoo healing process is cleanliness. Use lukewarm water to wash the tattoo, pushing the ink inward into the skin, at least thrice a day. If the water supply to your area is not clean, use sterile water instead.

However, do not forget to wash your hands with antibacterial soap before proceeding. Then, use alcohol- and fragrance-free soap to wash the tattoo thoroughly. Let it dry naturally afterward, or gently use a paper towel.

2. Avoid Excessive Water

Avoid Excessive Water- tattoo healing process

Just as significant as cleaning the tattoo daily, you should also avoid too much water. Apart from using sterile water for cleaning purposes, limit your tattoo’s exposure to water. It also means you should avoid swimming for the first two weeks.

3. Apply Ointments

Apply Ointments- tattoo healing process

Another great tip to quicken the tattoo healing process is to use ointment. In the first few days, your artist would recommend using products like vitamin A and D, lanolin, and petroleum. After the first week, you can switch to lighter moisturizing products or even pure coconut oil.

However, keep in mind that your tattoo needs air to heal. Therefore, avoid using products like Vaseline that form a thick layer on the tattoo.

4. Avoid Re-Bandage

Avoid Re-Bandage- tattoo healing process

When you get the tattoo done, your artist will wrap it in surgical or clear plastic wrap. Once you remove this bandage after the first few days, do not re-bandage the tattoo. Your tattoo needs air to breathe and recover quickly, and covering it again may result in a lack of oxygen and extra moisture. It may ultimately lead to scabbing and a slower tattoo healing process.

5. No Scented Products

If you want your tattoo to heal quickly, avoid using scented products. Therefore, steer clear of scented lotions and soaps on your tattoo. If the tattoo is near your head, you might also have to use scent-free shampoo and conditioner. The fragrance in these products can cause a skin reaction when they come in contact with the ink, slowing down the tattoo healing process.

Is It Safe To Get Two Tattoos At Once?

As the tattoo healing process takes up to 3 weeks to suitably cure, you might have to wait before you can get another cool couple matching tattoo. What if you didn’t have to wait and simultaneously get another tattoo done whilst one is already healing? Getting two tattoos done at the same time can be a tricky process and may lead to issues extending the healing duration.

While a tattoo is curing, the body diverts a lot of resources toward preventing infections and keeping the skin healthy. Therefore, having two tattoos healing at the same time can overburden the body and delay both tattoos’ healing process. Instead of waiting for a couple of weeks, you’ll need to wait a few months before both tattoos fully heal. Moreover, the aftercare stage would become hectic, as you’ll require to focus on both tattoos’ hydration and nutrition.

Although you can get more than one tattoo simultaneously, be ready to face the consequences in the form of extended healing duration. For your skin and body’s health, you should have only one tattoo at a time. Once that tattoo heals, you can get another.


Tattoos are an excellent addition to any personality. Whether you like to display a bold and daring character or a confident and professional nature, we now have a wide range of tattoo styles. However, like any other wound, a tattoo takes considerable time to cure and goes through a process. Generally, this process involves four tattoo healing stages and can last up to 3 weeks. However, the tattoo healing process duration varies from person to person. In this regard, you should follow tips like applying ointment, avoiding sun exposure, and daily cleaning to quicken the healing process!

About the Author: Personal Care Truth

Personal Care Truth is your trusted source for evidence-based information on personal care and wellness. A dedicate health advocate who is passionate about empowering individuals to make informed choices when it comes to their personal care.

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