The Importance of Aftercare: Piercings and Tats

Most of us who have body jewelry or tattoos (or both) know that after care is a major part of getting any new body decoration. Not only is aftercare important for your health, and the healing of the piercing/tattoo, but it can also make a huge difference in the overall look, aesthetic and even life of the body art in question. Ignoring after care doesn’t just result in things like infected piercings and scabbed over tattoos; it can actually result in your piercing having to be removed or faded, unprofessional looking ink.

Photo Credit: Mati Mango


That being said, aftercare doesn’t have to be difficult or inconvenient. It’s easy to add after care to your regular, everyday routine. While your piercing or tat might be a little tender or annoying for a couple of days, if you follow your aftercare properly, it won’t be painful.



If you’ve got lots of tattoos, you already know this, but for the newbie, we’ll explain. Once you’ve gotten a tattoo, after care begins immediately. Before you even leave the tattoo studio, your artist should wipe down your new ink very carefully with a sanitized cloth or wipe, then will give it a decent coat of antibiotic gel or cream. They’ll then bandage up the tattoo with sterilized gauze and tape to keep it safe and protected while you travel home. They may tell you to remove the gauze once you’re safely at home, and reapply the ointment (this protects from infection and also provides an extra layer of security to your fresh tattoo). Over the course of the next few days (or up to a couple of weeks), you’ll need to reapply the ointment periodically, as well as gently wash and dab dry your tattoo.


One mistake that many people make is that they over-apply the ointment, adding a thick layer that doesn’t allow the tattoo to breathe. If you apply it too generously it can also over-hydrate the scabs, which cause them to flake off faster than they need to. This can result in a faded or discolored tattoo. Another mistake that people often make is to submerge the tattoo in a bathtub or pool before it’s fully healed. Again, this over-hydrates the scabs, which makes the tattoo fade.


Always follow the sheet or card the tattoo artist gives you, which will have detailed instructions for aftercare, carefully. Don’t stop aftercare before advised, and don’t over-apply your ointment. That’s the most important part!



For a piercing, after care is equally important.


When you go for a piercing, the piercer will generally use a sterilized needle to pierce you (some places still use guns for ear-piercings, but most have moved away from these). They will then clean the area gently and give you instructions on how to care for the piercing at home.


Despite the very best in sterile conditions, occasionally a new piercing will get red and tender, or possibly infected. Don’t freak: there are ways to treat this at home. If your piercer provided you with or recommended a good cleaning solution, use that. If not, you can make your own saline solution for piercings (and these can be used at any time, not just when you’ve first gotten pierced. Saline solutions, especially with sea salt, are highly recommended to use for piercings). Use the saline solution as often as your piercer directs, and report to them (or to a doctor) if the situation doesn’t improve or the pain seems to get worse.


Never, ever take out your piercing before you’re supposed to. This is a big mistake that people make – they just got pierced, but they want to use a new piece of jewelry, so they remove the piercing before the healing time is complete. This can lead to infection, and can also cause the piercing to grow back. Wait until your piercer gives you the all clear.


Taking care of your piercings and tattoos is a snap, if you just follow the aftercare plan. You’ll be loving your body art for years to come!






I'm a mother of 2 who likes to get involved in too much! Besides writing here I started a non-profit, I'm on the PTO board, very active in my community and volunteer in the school. I enjoy music, reading, cooking, traveling and spending time with my family. We just adopted our 3rd cat and love them all!

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