How Soon Can You Swim After Getting A Tattoo?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on January 6, 2021
    Last Updated: January 19, 2021

A tattoo needs to completely heal before you can swim again in order to prevent fading and infection. Although healing times vary from person to person, you should ensure your tattoo remains clean and protected for at least two to four weeks.


Why Can’t I Get My New Tattoo Wet?

While there is nothing theoretically wrong with getting your tattoo slightly wet, the main causes for concern are keeping the area clean, and keeping the area from becoming waterlogged.

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

Firstly, a public pool is likely to contain chlorine, which could badly irritate a new tattoo. Secondly, the chances of there being some nasty bacteria in the pool regardless of the chlorine content are quite high, increasing the potential of contracting an infection. And thirdly, keeping your unhealed tattoo submerged 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 performed for at least three weeks before bathing or swimming in any type of water so the skin can recover and close properly, in turn guarding the tattoo/wound against chemical irritation, risk of infection, and the chance of water saturation.

You should definitely wait until your tattoo has finished scabbing and peeling, so if your ink takes longer than three weeks for this process to finish, wait a while more before you go for a swim.

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

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.

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 of jumping into the sea or an outdoor pool on a hot summer’s day, then it may be worth getting inked over the 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 some sort of strong bacteria-killing chemicals continuously filtering through the system. The most commonly used chemical in public pools being Chlorine. Chlorine is an enemy to new tattoos, and you should stay well away from coming into contact with it during the initial healing period.

This chemical can irritate your tattoo before it’s healed by making it extremely dry and flaky. It can also make the area itch, and cause a host of other conditions, 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 infection, and therefore, your tattoo will be extremely prone to infection.

Can you Swim in the Sea?

No. Not only will the sea contain millions of types of infection-causing bacteria (many sewer systems throughout the world drain out into the sea), but the sea salt will also have a negative effect on tattoo healing times. Swimming pools containing salt water should also be avoided.

Much like Chlorine, salt will really dry the area out and irritate the skin before it has healed, causing many different types of possible reactions, such as itchiness, redness and rashing.

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 is not going to leave you with very nice looking ink by the end of the healing process.

Can you Take a Bath?

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

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

Not only this, but 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, leading to possible patchiness. This advice also goes for hot tubs – stay out of them. You’re essentially sharing a bath with up to 7 other people and all the people in the tub since the last time it was cleaned.

How About Showers?

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