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How Long After a Tattoo Can You Swim?

What Happens When You Swim With a New Tattoo

When you get a new tattoo, there are open wounds on your skin that need time to heal. If you go swimming too soon, you risk exposing your fresh ink to bacteria, chemicals, dirt, and sun damage. This can lead to infections, fading, scabbing, and loss of color. Basically, it’s best to wait until your tattoo has had time to properly heal before taking the plunge.

The Healing Process

Immediately after getting tattooed, the area is an open wound. It takes your skin anywhere from 2-6 weeks to fully complete the healing process. During this time, new skin cells form and your tat gradually settles into its permanent position underneath your epidermis. If you’re still in the planning stages and looking for tattoo ideas, check out our guide on how to get tattoo ideas. While healing, fresh tattoos are extremely vulnerable to outside damage and contamination. You’ll want to baby your art until it has fully healed before submerging it in water.

How Long Should You Wait?

Most tattoo artists and dermatologists recommend waiting a minimum of 2 weeks after getting inked to go swimming. However, the longer you can wait, the better. Ideally, you’ll want to give your tattoo a full 4-6 weeks before exposing it to pool, ocean or bath water. If your tattoo is large, very colorful, or took longer than usual to complete, you may even want to wait 6-8 weeks just to be safe. The last thing you want is a skin infection!

What About Swimming Pools?

Chlorinated pool water can be particularly harsh on fresh tattoos. The chemicals found in pools can dry out and irritate newly tattooed skin. Salt water and dirty pond water carry similar risks in terms of potential skin infections. Even if you wait the minimum recommended 2 weeks, getting a new tattoo wet in a heavily chemically-treated pool is still risky. 4-6 weeks is safer for pool swimming after a new ink job.

Caring For New Tattoos

To help your new body art heal as quickly as possible, follow your artist’s aftercare instructions to a T! Keep the area clean, let it breathe uncovered, and apply a gentle moisturizing lotion to prevent scabbing. For tips on how to clean a new tattoo, refer to our guide here. Avoid direct sun exposure and be very gentle with scrubbing or picking at any initial scabbing. The better you care for your new tattoo, the quicker it will heal and the sooner you can hit the pool worry-free!

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