Can You Get A New Tattoo Wet?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 9, 2020
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Getting a new tattoo can be an exciting and nerve-wracking experience. You have to take time to consider the design you want, the placement of the tattoo, and the artist who will do it for you. 

But deciding on the design and artist for a tattoo is only the first part of the process. The aftercare methods you use while your tattoo is healing will make all the difference. 

So while your tattoo is healing, is it okay to get it wet? Should you keep that area wrapped up every time you shower? Is it okay to go to the beach with a new tattoo? 


Should I Stay Away From Water With A New Tattoo?

Besides cleaning your new tattoo while it is healing, you should generally stay out of any bodies of water that you might normally visit. This means no trips to the beach, the pool or the lake in the three weeks following your tattoo appointment. 

Splashing water on your tattoo is one thing, but if you allow your tattoo to soak in water – especially water that might have bacteria or other contaminants in it – you are risking an infection on your new tattoo.

The healing process takes as long as it does because the tattooed area has been penetrated with a needle many thousands of times over a sitting, and the body is essentially regenerating a whole new layer of skin. If water is allowed to submerge this wound, it may complicate the healing process and lead to irritation, infection or ink dilution/loss.

Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?

There are three main reasons why you should refrain from submerging your tattoo in water:

Infection Risk: Submergence within nearly any type of water presents an infection risk to a new wound. Billions of bacteria reside in most bodies of water, and it doesn’t take much for bad bacteria to infiltrate a wound and cause infection.

Irritation: Any water that contains chemical elements is a risk to your tattoo. Chlorine can be a major irritant for new tattoos, as well as sand and sea salt.

Ink Dilution: When a tattoo is very new, the ink will not have had a chance to set within the appropriate layers of skin. Therefore, if the area is submerged for any length of time, the ink has a chance of becoming diluted or getting dislodged from the skin.

When Is It Okay To Get My Tattoo Wet During Healing?

It’s perfectly okay to get your new tattoo wet – just don’t submerge it. In fact, you should get your new tattoo wet every morning and night when cleaning it with water and an appropriate antibacterial soap

It is safe to shower with a new tattoo but you should take care to keep the area from getting blasted by water jets, and you should limit showers to 5-10 minutes.

When Is It Safe to Get My Tattoo Wet?

It’s a good rule of thumb to refrain from visiting a beach, lake or pool for three-to-four weeks after receiving your new tattoo. This period will give your skin enough time to heal and protect itself from outside contaminants that may disrupt the aftercare process. 

As your tattoo heals, scabs will form on and around the area. You will want to wait until every scab has naturally fallen away and your skin feels smooth to the touch before submerging the tattoo in water for long periods. 

While some people may tell you they had no issues with swimming with a new tattoo, it will always be a safer choice to postpone your beach trip until your tattoo has healed entirely. 

If you wait, you’ll be able to show off your new tattoo at the beach confidently without worrying that the ocean water may cause complications in healing.

Wait until your tattoo has completely peeled before submerging it

Caring For a New Tattoo

Before you even walk out of the shop on the day of getting your new tattoo, the artist will wipe it several times with water and an antibacterial cleanser. Then, the tattoo will usually be wrapped up with a lightweight material to keep it from rubbing against anything else. 

You should leave the wrap on your tattoo for as long as your tattoo artist tells you to. This will be from a few hours up to 24 hours in most cases.

The aftercare instructions given to you by the artist will likely involve regularly cleaning your tattoo and applying a moisturizer regularly to keep it from drying out as it begins to peel. 

The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a vegan-friendly aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process; not only by keeping your tattoo really well hydrated but also by soothing any annoying itching and irritation. When using it from the very start of the healing process, this lotion will help to decrease tattoo healing times and work towards eliminating any lingering dryness and scabbing.

Our Verdict

Though a tattoo may only take a few hours to be applied to your skin, the aftercare process is much more lengthy and involved, which is why it is so important. 

Tattoos are open wounds that should be cared for carefully. The healing process is crucial, so you should keep any bacteria, irritants or foreign agents away from your tattoo as best as possible.