What Happens If You Don’t Put Ointment On A New Tattoo?

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

If you don’t moisturize a new tattoo, there are chances it won’t heal properly. Moisturising keeps it safe from infections and allows the quality of the tattoo to be preserved. It’ll also prevent you from itching, which will stop the area from healing.

After getting your tattoo done, the skin tries to rejuvenate and recover from the trauma it’s been through. At this time, it’s important not to spare any detail in helping your body.

What Happens If You Dry Heal a New Tattoo?

Not moisturizing your skin after getting a tat is what’s known as dry-healing. Some tattoo fans will argue that since moisturizing can trap bacteria and lock in moisture, thus causing blisters, their skin heals faster.

We counter this by saying that most professional tattoo artists recommend that you moisturize the area after washing and drying. If not, some of the side effects can be:

  • Itching
  • Tight scabs
  • Bacterial infections


Not moisturizing after getting a tattoo leaves the skin dehydrated and dried out; most likely with an itch you’ll find incredibly hard to ignore, let alone touch if it’s in a specific location.

Avoid scratching and picking the tattoo — doing so can ruin the appearance of the design due to scarring on the skin. Also, you have a higher risk of letting bacteria into the area due to bacteria on the fingers and under fingernails.

Tight Scabs

Unmoisturized skin makes room for thick, tight and painful scabs to form. These may crack when you move and cause early flaking, which pulls the tattoo ink away as the scabs fall away.

The result means that your new skin can’t heal properly, leaving it scarred and potentially distorting the tattoo’s look.

Bacterial Infection

An open wound can easily get infected, potentially damaging the skin and tattoo. Common bacterial infections are:

  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus

To avoid catching these, a balm moisturizer works as a band-aid to guard against harmful microorganisms.

Some symptoms of an infection may include:

  • Fever
  • Rash or redness
  • Bumps in the tattoo area
  • Purulent drainage
  • Increased pain

What to Do After Getting a Tattoo

Finally, the design you thought about for months is resting perfectly on your body. What’s the next step to take? Do you just leave it there to take care of itself? Remember that making it look just as you dreamed it would is solely up to you.

Artists’ aftercare techniques vary, so listen to and follow their instructions. They’re the experts, so know what will work best for you. Don’t be tempted to use the advice given to a friend by a different artist just because you think theirs is better. 

  1. Bandage: After the tattoo’s complete, the artist will wrap a bandage around it. Remove the bandage after 24 hours.
  2. Clean: Wash the tattoo with antibacterial soap and leave to dry.
  3. Daily: Keep the tattooed area clean by washing it twice a day to avoid infection.

Keeping it moisturized will keep the area of the tattoo hydrated, and in the process, will serve to reduce or prevent itching.

Also, direct contact with sunlight may affect the quality of your tattoo over time. Once your tattoo has healed, always use a high-factor sunscreen — ideally, you keep the tattoo covered when in the sun to preserve its look.

The Basics of Moisturizing

You shouldn’t leave a tattoo parlor without getting a list of either verbal or written instructions. Among these guides, moisturizing sits prominently. The moisturizers could be any of the following:

  • Cream
  • Lotion
  • Ointment

There are many recommended tattoo creams — you will do well to stick to whichever is proposed by your artist.

If you opt down the ointment route, they should be used in small quantities to keep scabs from peeling prematurely. 

Nourishment, hydration, and protection are the basic things the skin needs to repair a wound. The right ointment or cream can give all of these in one rub. Some skin doesn’t need much moisturizing to heal completely, whereas other skin types will never heal if an adequate amount of moisturizer isn’t applied.

Moisturize It Up!

Using moisturizer immediately after the first wash is ok, but some tattoo artists encourage you to wait for up to 24 hours before applying anything on it. They know best, and you need to stick to their advice. 

The alternative may be suffering through skin irritation, tight scabs or the effects of infections, which can jeopardize the quality of the tattoo and your health if quick action isn’t taken. If there’s one thing to do after having a tattoo, it would be to moisturize it properly.

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