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Keeping the Ink Fresh



— May 20, 2017

Keeping the Ink Fresh

  • Working on the next installment of your full sleeve? Deciding on the perfect place for a piercing? Here’s how to give your skin some TLC after the work is done

Caring for tattoos

Keep it covered. It’s tempting to show off that fresh ink. But you need to keep the area covered for the first day, says Beverly Hills dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD, who is a UCLA clinical instructor. Then wash the site with a gentle soap daily for up to three weeks and until the skin is completely healed. Apply a layer of plain Vaseline for at least the first week, and then, if you prefer, switch to a lighter, fragrance-free moisturizer. Avoid using any kind of plastic bandage or wrap. Instead, Shainhouse suggests covering the healing tat with a sterile, breathable bandage.

Don’t touch it more than you need to. This should go without saying, right? The only time you should touch a healing tattoo is when you’re caring for it, and then only with freshly washed hands. Don’t let anyone else touch it, either.

Stay out of water. Showering is A-OK, says Shainhouse. But you’ll want to wait at least two to three weeks and until your tattoo is completely healed before submerging your tattoo in water, whether that’s a bath, swimming pool, ocean or lake.

Don’t sleep on your new ink. Healing tattoos don’t like being suffocated in your bedclothes, so try to avoid rolling onto them. If it’s a really big tattoo, invest in a new set of cheap sheets, clean them often and throw them away after the skin heals.

Wear sunscreen. Once your tattoo heals, you’ll want to keep that fresh ink looking, well, fresh. The key to this? Be sure to cover it with sunscreen, says Neal Schultz, MD, a New York City dermatologist and founder of Not only does sunscreen help prevent skin cancer, but it can also prevent tattoos from fading over time.

Laser removal is the only safe and effective method to get rid of tattoos. It’s a common scenario: You’re in love, you get a tattoo of your significant other’s name, then you break up. The good news? Cosmetic dermatologists can remove the tattoo with laser treatment. The bad news? The procedure can be expensive (we’re talking thousands of dollars) and require multiple treatments. If your tattoo has lots of different colors and was done by a professional, it could take 10 to 12 treatments.

Caring for Pierced Skin Skip the cartilage piercings. Or at least really think things through beforehand. Cartilage piercings have been going in and out of style for decades. Recently, though, piercings of the conch and daith—the first is the ear’s outer cartilage, the second is the little flap in front of the opening—have become more popular. But consider this: If your cartilage piercing gets infected, it can be serious, says Schultz. In some cases, you might need to take intravenous antibiotics for six weeks.

Clean, turn, repeat. Whether you get a belly button ring to show off at the beach or you finally get around to getting your ears pierced, the pierced site and the post of the jewelry need to be cleaned every two to three hours when you’re not asleep, Schultz says. To get this right, clean your piercing with 70% isopropyl alcohol, and apply it to the area with either a cotton ball, cotton swab or a single-use alcohol pad, he suggests. Then, an antibiotic ointment should be generously applied to the site. Without removing the post, turn or twirl it, and even slide it back and forth through the pierced channel so that you get the ointment into the piercing site, Schultz recommends. You should follow this cleaning schedule for the first two weeks. For the third and fourth week, you

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