Should I Wrap My Tattoo At Night Before Bed?
Like any art, we tend to have divergent opinions when it comes to tattoo aftercare methods. One of the most discussed subjects is whether tattoo wrapping is necessary before bed.
Yes, you should wrap your tattoo before bed, but only if recommended by your tattoo artist, as they know best for your own personal situation. If you wear your wrap for bed, combine this with a sleeping position that doesn’t put pressure on the tattooed area.
Is Wrapping My Freshly-Inked Tattoo Before Bed Necessary?
In the process of getting a new tattoo, your skin’s barrier will be broken, and you’re left exposed to bacterial infections. The healing process is crucial not only to get a healthy, outstanding tattoo but also to protect you from infections.
Sleep is much-needed when you get a new tattoo and is a vital part of helping the body heal. Even so, it might be uncomfortable to sleep with a tattoo, and we often worry about damaging the tattooed skin while asleep. This is why many tattoo artists believe that it’s essential to wrap your tattoo before bed for the first night.
During the first 48 hours of getting your tattoo, your skin will ooze blood and plasma, which is completely normal and part of the healing process. However, these fluids can make your skin itchy and cause the skin to become stuck to your bedsheets. All these scenarios can be avoided with night-wrapping.
When it comes to tattoos, opinions and methods may vary. After thorough research and considering methods backed-up by tattoo artists, we recommend keeping your tattoo wrapped for your first night of sleep.
However, we never usually recommend wrapping your own tattoo. It’s very easy to get it wrong and inadvertently trap germs and bacteria between the wrap and your open wound. As the wrapping heats up and produces sweat beneath it, your skin will become a breeding ground for any bacteria that are already within the vicinity.
Our advice has always been to keep the wrap on that your artist dressed for you (for the amount of time that they stated), and after this time has passed, discontinue any further wrapping, and begin treating your tattoo only through regular cleaning and moisturizing.
How to Wrap Your Tattoo Before Sleeping: A Step-by-Step Guide
Although we don’t recommend wrapping your own tattoo, below is a list of steps that will allow you to wrap the area while keeping risk factors to a minimum.
- Wrap/Bandage: Your tattoo artist will disinfect the area with soap and cover the skin with a bandage. Your artist will likely recommend you to keep the bandage on for at least five hours, but usually no more than 24 hours to avoid infections.
- Remove the bandage: Take off the bandage carefully. In case the bandage is sticking to your skin, apply some lukewarm water and proceed slowly.
- Wash: Cleanse the tattoo with a bar of antibacterial, unscented soap and lukewarm water to remove the shiny coat that might have formed on top of your tattoo. Be sure to remove as much dried blood and plasma as possible, while still being gentle (the area will be very sore).
- Dry: Allow your tattoo to air dry for 15 minutes. Pat the inked area gently with a clean paper towel. Avoid any harsh cloths — loofahs, towels or washcloths can irritate the skin and transfer bacteria to the area. Ensure that the area is completely dry.
- Tattoo cover: Wrap the tattoo with clean, fresh plastic without using any ointment lotion or moisturizer.
- Remove the wrap: Remove the wrap when you wake up, wash the tattoo and dry it as explained from step 3.
- Repeat: Redo this full wrapping and cleaning process for up to three nights.
What to Keep in Mind When You Sleep With a New Tattoo
When you get a new tattoo, you should keep your environment as clean as possible.
We recommend getting clean and freshly washed sheets to avoid any contact with bacteria and old skin cells. This is very important, especially after taking off the night wrap.
It’s preferable to avoid using your favorite set of sheets since the tattoo can stain them with blood — go for dark sheets. Also, change the sheets every 1–2 weeks until your tattoo’s healed.
If you wake up and your tattoo has stuck to the sheet, don’t panic! Take the whole sheet with you to the bathroom and apply lukewarm water to the inked area.
Avoid Sleeping on Your Freshly-inked Tattoo
Always go for a sleeping position that doesn’t put any weight or pressure on the tattoo. This will ensure that blood and oxygen circulate well.
These are the positions to consider for each tattoo placement:
- Back tattoos: Sleep on your front
- Chest tattoos: Sleep on your back
- Side tattoos: Sleep on your opposite side
- Leg tattoos: Elevate your leg with a pillow, cushion or rolled-up towel.
During the first three days of getting a tattoo, avoid consuming alcohol. When you get drunk, you’re less aware of your body and can start picking and scratching your tattoo and knocking it against objects. Alcohol also thins your blood, which can prevent blood clotting.
The 8-Hour Sleep Rule
Your body regenerates cells when you’re sleeping, so most of the tattoo healing process will happen at this time. Make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep to speed up healing. Also, try to eat a balanced meal and drink water so your immune system can combat any infection that may occur.
Sleeping with freshly inked skin isn’t always comfortable, so a tattoo night-wrap is a way to make sleeping more tolerable. Follow our step-by-step night-wrap guide to get better-quality sleep and ensure that your tattoos are well-protected.