Is Icing A New Tattoo Necessary?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on October 12, 2019
    Last Updated: November 27, 2020

Icing a new tattoo can form part of the aftercare routine. Once you leave the parlor excited with your new ink, the skin will be the angry one. It’s likely to be swollen and needs your help in the recovery process.

Follow our icing and after-ink safety tips to make sure everything goes according to plan.

You should ice a new tattoo:

  • To reduce swelling
  • For cooling down the skin
  • To aid in the healing process

Ice Your Tattoo

Icing a new tattoo can be an excellent option for integrating into a safe healing process. Although tattoo-aftercare depends significantly on your biological make-up, with time and experience, you’ll be able to know if icing can be a method that works well for you.

Swelling of New Tattoos

Swelling usually occurs in the body part where blood flow is high and close to the skin. Generally, if the tattoo has a normal healing process, swelling and bruising should be minimal.

Stay attentive, as symptoms of a heavily swollen and bruised tattoo may mean an infection could be present. However, slight swelling and bruising is also normal, so don’t worry too much.

A swollen and infected tattoo

How to Ice a New Tattoo

If you notice swelling, you can reduce it by elevating the tattooed area and applying a bag of ice. You can also use a cold compress to the swollen area. A pack of frozen peas or a cool cloth may also work. Wrap it in a clean material like muslin cloth or cheesecloth and apply it for about 20-30 minutes. Don’t let the area get so cold that it begins to sting/burn.

Try to keep it elevated during the next 24 hours. This technique decreases blood flow, which reduces swelling, alleviates pain, and brings down inflammation.

After-Ink Safety 

The first two weeks are critical for the healing of your tattoo. Keep in mind that after four weeks, most of the tattoo should already be fully healed. 

  1. Remove the wrap: Your artist will have told you how long to leave it on for.

  2. Wash: Use antibacterial soap and luke-warm water. Carefully remove as much blood, plasma and other residue as possible.

  3. Ice: If the area is swollen, you can apply ice at this stage for 20-30 minutes. Wrap the ice in a clean cloth to prevent burning the skin.

  4. Dry: Whether you’ve used ice or not, dry the skin. Preferably allow it to air dry; alternatively, use a clean towel to pat dry.

  5. Apply a thin layer of ointment: Stay away from vaseline, as it blocks your tattoo from getting air and healing properly.

    The best tattoo lotion I’ve ever personally used is a (vegan) aftercare product called After Inked Tattoo Aftercare Lotion. This stuff works amazingly well during the healing process – not only to keep your tattoo really well hydrated, but it’s also very good at soothing any annoying itchiness or irritation.

  6. Keep on applying the ointment: Do this after washing your tattoo every morning and night. Again, make sure the area is completely dry before applying lotion to prevent tattoo bubbling.

  7. Moisturize: Once your tattoo starts peeling, which usually happens three to five days after getting inked, you can apply non-scented hand lotion.

  8. Keep washing the tattoo: Make sure to continue washing during the following two weeks.

  9. Don’t remove the scabs: Instead, let them fall off by themselves.

Avoid Blood Thinners

Do not take blood-thinning medications or foods such as aspirin, coffee or alcohol. These can cause the tattoo to swell during the healing process. If you need a painkiller, you can take ibuprofen or panadol, but be sure to consult your doctor first.

Apply a Warm Washcloth

When the swelling goes away, you can apply a warm washcloth in the affected area. This will increase blood circulation and help your body mend. Do this for 10 to 12 minutes, at least three times per day. To avoid infection, use a clean cloth and wash your tattoo after applying the compress.

Avoid Skin-Numbing Creams

These are a bad idea to use during the healing process, as they can make the nervous system become overly sensitive and increase the swelling. They may also restrict blood flow and the body’s repairing process. Save numbing creams for before or during the procedure.

Choose an Experienced Artist

By choosing an experienced tattoo artist, they’ll be more adept at being gentle when carrying out the inking. The result is minimized skin damage and prevention of unnecessary bruising and swelling.

Help Your Skin With Ice

Tattoo aftercare is essential to make sure you keep your skin and ink healthy. For a safe healing process, you should wash your tattoo regularly with an antibacterial ointment and strickly follow aftercare guidelines.

Icing your tattoo is an excellent way to speed up the healing process. If your tattooed area is swollen, applying a bag of ice can work wonders. Make sure to wrap it with a clean cloth and apply it to the skin for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, apply a warm washcloth to allow the blood to flow normally again.

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