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How Long Does It Take for a Tattoo to Heal?

When Will My Tattoo Fully Heal?

Fresh ink calls for fresh bandages! Your artist will wrap up your new tattoo for the first few days while the weeping and plasma seeps out. Resist the urge to peel the bandage off early to “peek” at your fab new art. This could pull out ink or introduce bacteria. Be patient, grasshopper.

The Scabbing and Itching Phase (4-7 days)

As your tattoo heals beneath the surface, you’ll notice some scabbing. Dry, flaky skin is normal. As nerve endings regenerate, you may feel an annoying itchy sensation. Do. Not. Scratch! Slap it with some unscented moisturizer instead. This too shall pass.

The Peeling Period (2-3 weeks)

Like a snake molting out of its skin, your tattoo will soon shed its dry, flaky top layer. Sexy, right? The dark, saturated ink below will start to reveal itself. Let the peeling happen naturally though. No picking! Before you know it, soft, rejuvenated skin emerges.

Subsurface Healing (4 weeks and beyond)

While your tattoo may look healed on the outside after peeling, healing continues under the skin for at least 4 weeks. The ink is still settling in. Avoid long, hot baths or anything abrasive during this time. The colors may otherwise leach out or fade too quickly. Let your body’s natural healing funk do its thing. If you’re wondering when it’s safe to swim after getting a tattoo, you can also read about it here.

Use Sunscreen! (Always)

You spent time, money and blood on your meaningful tattoo. Don’t let regret set in early by letting your design fade prematurely. UV exposure is the enemy of vibrant ink. So be vigilant about applying broad spectrum sunscreen daily and often to protect your tattoo’s integrity. It will thank you years later when people still ooh and aah over the rich colors. If you’re concerned about the health of your tattoo, you can also learn about what an infected tattoo looks like.

So in summary—a standard tattoo takes about 2-6 weeks to fully heal on the skin’s surface. But the real permanence sets in over months as the ink stabilizes under the dermis. Take good care of your new body art, and it will take good care of your self expression in the long run!

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