How Soon Can You Swim After Getting a New Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on May 6, 2023
    Last Updated: May 17, 2023

Imagine the exhilaration of plunging into crystal-clear waters with your striking new tattoo, a vivid emblem of your individuality. But wait! To preserve its stunning vibrancy and avoid the perils of infection, you must allow your tattoo to heal fully. While the healing process may differ for each person, keeping your artwork immaculate and shielded for a minimum of two to four weeks is essential.

Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?

While there is nothing theoretically wrong with getting your tattoo slightly wet, the important factors are keeping the area clean and preventing the skin from becoming waterlogged.

While a quick wash in the shower is very unlikely to cause any damage, having a swim in a public pool for an hour or two could cause a host of problems.

Firstly, a public pool is likely to contain chlorine, which could cause irritation to a new tattoo. Secondly, the chances of nasty bacteria being in the pool, regardless of the chlorine content, are quite high. Exposure to any amount of bacteria increases the chance of infection. Thirdly, submerging your unhealed tattoo for long durations will increase the risk of diluting the ink and reducing sharpness and vibrancy.

How Long After Getting a Tattoo Before You Can Go Swimming

Proper tattoo aftercare should be adhered to for at least three weeks before bathing or swimming in any type of water in order for the skin to recover sufficiently. Skin that has properly healed over the tattoo will protect against chemical irritation, eater saturation and infection.

Definitely wait until your tattoo has finished scabbing and peeling for having a swim. If your ink takes longer than three weeks for this process to finish, it’s best to give it a little while longer.

A good way to speed up the healing of a new tattoo is to use a specially-formalized aftercare lotion to nourish the area with much-needed vitamins and goodness.

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 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.​ Click here to buy from Amazon.

There are several things not to do before your tattoo completely heals, and submerging your new ink in water is one of them. Swimming after tattoo healing has finished is absolutely fine and should cause no long-term damage to your tattoo.

If you don’t think you can resist the urge to jump into the sea or an outdoor pool on a hot summer’s day, then it may be worth getting inked over winter so you don’t have these temptations.

Can you Swim in Pools After Getting a New Tattoo?

No. Most indoor and outdoor swimming pools (either private or commercial) have strong bacteria-killing chemicals continuously filtering through the system, with the most commonly used chemical in public pools being Chlorine. Chlorine is damaging to new tattoos, and you should stay well away from coming into contact with it during the initial healing period.

Chlorine can irritate your tattoo before it’s healed, making it extremely dry and flaky. It can also make the area itch and cause a host of other symptoms, such as skin rashes and red bumps appearing over the area.

If the pool doesn’t use chlorine or any other chemicals, you still have plenty of reasons to stay away. These pools will likely have no preventative methods to protect swimmers against bacteria, so your tattoo will be extremely prone to infection.

Can you Swim in the Sea?

You shouldn’t swim in the sea with a new tattoo. The sea contains millions of infection-causing bacteria (many sewer systems throughout the world drain out into the sea), and the sea salt will negatively affect tattoo healing times by causing irritation and dryness. Swimming pools containing salt water should also be avoided.

Holiday Tattoos: Top Tip

If you go on a beach holiday/vacation and have your heart set on getting a tattoo while you’re away, try and get the tattoo done as close to the end of the vacation as possible so you don’t need to ruin the trip avoiding the sea or your hotel swimming pool for days/weeks on end.

Getting a new tattoo on the first day of your vacation, followed by leaving your tattoo out in the sun and swimming in the pool every day for the next two weeks, will not leave you with a healthy-looking tattoo by the end of the healing process.

Can you Take a Bath?

No. What could be worse for your new tattoo than bathing in germs and dirty bathwater? It doesn’t matter if the germs come from your body; they can still cause infection.

Bathing in any body of water for long periods of time will flood the recovering tattoo with water, potentially allowing ink to drain and leak out and leading to possible patchiness.

You can bathe safely with your beautiful tattoo, all in good time

How About Showers?

Yes! Taking short, 5-minute showers once or twice a day is completely fine when you have a new tattoo. Just be sure to keep the jets of water from aiming directly at the tattoo, and dry the area carefully once finished.

Can I Cover My New Tattoo with Waterproof Bandages or Wraps to Protect It While Swimming?

While it might seem like a good idea to cover your new tattoo with waterproof bandages or wraps to protect it while swimming, this is generally not recommended. Covering the tattoo can trap bacteria and moisture, leading to infection and hindering healing. It’s best to avoid swimming altogether until your tattoo has fully healed.

What Should I Do if My New Tattoo Gets Wet Accidentally While I’m Showering or Bathing?

If your new tattoo gets wet accidentally during a shower or bath, don’t panic. Gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean, soft towel as soon as you can. Avoid rubbing or using a hairdryer to dry the tattoo, as this can cause irritation. Keeping the tattoo clean and dry during healing is essential, so be extra cautious during future showers or baths.

How Long Should I Wait After Getting a Tattoo Before Going to A Hot Tub or Sauna?

It is crucial to give your tattoo time to heal before exposing it to hot tubs or saunas. The high heat and moisture in these environments can be harmful to a healing tattoo, potentially leading to infection or damage. It’s generally recommended to wait at least 3-4 weeks after getting a tattoo before entering a hot tub or sauna, but it’s always best to consult with your tattoo artist for their specific advice based on your individual tattoo and healing process.

Are Any Specific Types of Swimming or Water Activities Safer for New Tattoos?

In general, it’s best to avoid all types of swimming and water activities until your tattoo has fully healed. Even if some water activities seem safer or cleaner than others, exposing a new tattoo to water increases the risk of infection and can interfere with the healing process. Wait until your tattoo is fully healed before participating in any water-based activities.

How Can I Tell if My Tattoo Has Fully Healed and Is Safe to Expose to Water?

Tattoo healing times vary depending on factors like size, location, and individual healing abilities. A tattoo is generally considered fully healed when the scabs have fallen off, and the skin has a smooth, even appearance without any redness or irritation. This can take anywhere from 2-4 weeks or even longer for larger or more intricate tattoos. If you’re unsure whether your tattoo has fully healed, it’s always best to consult your tattoo artist for their advice before exposing it to water.

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