How To Protect A New Tattoo While Swimming

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 21, 2019
    Last Updated: November 28, 2020

If you have a new tattoo and enjoy swimming, you’re probably wondering how to protect it from getting it wet. Water is a big no-no when it comes to brand new tattoos, as it can lead to infections or losing ink.

Swimming is unadvised during the first weeks of getting inked. In case you have to get in the water, we cover all you need to know about how to protect your skin and ink.

Protect your new tattoo when swimming by:

  • Avoid swimming until the skin has healed
  • Seal plastic around the area
  • Use an antibacterial wash after swimming

Post-Tattoo Care

Before you go swimming or soak in a tub, you should make sure you take good care of your tattooed skin.

Make sure you’ve gone through all of these steps and that your skin is already healed before you even think of exposing your skin to a wet environment:

  1. Inking: Your tattoo artist wraps it up 
  2. Once home: Wash off blood, plasma and extra ink carefully, using only your hands
  3. Dry it: Leave your tattoo to dry in a safe and clean environment
  4. Apply a cream: Apply a recommended tattoo aftercare cream
  5. Don’t scratch: Never remove the scabs that form, and be sure to keep them dry
  6. Avoid sun exposure: Keep inked areas out of the direct sun for a few weeks
  7. Sunblock: Apply sunblock to your tattoo for the rest of your life – although you should aim to keep your tattoo out of strong, direct sunlight completely until it’s healed.

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Are Tattoos Water-Friendly?

Your skin is basically an open wound after you get a new tattoo, so it requires clean air and time to heal. Protecting your tattoo in the early stages is paramount, as your fragile skin can easily become infected.

While your tattoo is healing, the outer layer of your skin dries, flakes and crumbles, forming scabs. If you get your skin wet, the scabs may fall off ahead of time, and you might even lose ink if these scabs take on water and become soggy, gooey and sticky.

Ideally, the only time your tattoo should get wet is when showering or when cleaning the tattoo:

  1. Wrap the area with plastic to prevent it from coming in contact with too much water
  2. Make sure the area is dry before getting dressed — air dry or blot with a clean towel

When Can I Swim?

If your tattoo is brand new you, shouldn’t swim for at least four weeks, as your skin is without protection against germs and bacteria. Your tattoo should remain clean and dry, except for showering and tattoo cleaning.

Try to plan and schedule your tattoo sessions three/four weeks before or after a vacation. If on vacation, it may also be smart to get the tattoo done as close to the end of the vacation as possible. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy swimming, pool parties or sea dips without worrying about the future of your tattoo.

Swimming Pools 

It’s best to stay away from swimming pools. They usually contain chlorine, which is a chemical that can irritate your tattoo and create skin rashes in the affected area. Even if the pool doesn’t contain chemicals, your tattoo can quickly get infected, as it’s not a bacteria-free environment.

Be Careful in the Sea

Taking a dip in the sea is also a terrible idea, as it contains many types of bacteria that can infect your tattoo. Sea salt can cause itchiness, rashes and redness. After the healing period, you’ll be able to swim without damaging your tattoo.

Protect Your Tattoo 

If a month or so has passed and your tattoo is healing slowly, you may wrap it up with a waterproof bandage. You may also apply ointments to help repel water from the tattoo.

If you have a new tattoo and you have to submerge it, here are some tips to prevent water from getting your tattoo wet:

  1. Clean and dry your tattoo thoroughly to ensure it is clear of bacteria
  2. Wrap the tattoo with a waterproof material, such as plastic wrap
  3. Do your best to seal the plastic tightly with medical adhesive
  4. Avoid staying in the water for a long time
  5. Remove the wrap straight away once you’re out of the water
  6. Wash the tattoo again with lukewarm water and a mild soap
  7. Let the tattoo completely try before adding a small amount of lotion

Safe Tattoo Swimming 

Swimming can be dangerous for your skin if you just got a brand-new tattoo. Submerging your fragile, inked skin may expose it to bacteria and germs that lead to infection. Your skin needs time to heal and should mostly stay dry during the first month after you get inked.

Apart from cleaning your tattoo and quick showers, we advise you to keep it dry. If you do have to swim, avoid staying in the water for a long time and wrap it up well. After you get out of the water, quickly wash the tattoo with an antibacterial wash and clean water, and leave it to air-dry.

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