Sweating With A New Tattoo

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

Now that you have your new tattoo, you should be buzzing and thrilled with your new artwork! It’s now part of your identity and should leave you with a lifelong memory. 

Even so, inking goes beyond just aesthetic purposes. It’s an invasive procedure and thus must be treated well in the aftercare process. This will determine whether or not the tattoo heals properly. Sweating is one way that you may unknowingly cause damage to the healing wound.

Excessive sweating with a new tattoo can:

  • Trigger infection
  • Disturb the healing process

But Don’t Worry!

I thought I’d get this section in here early.

If you’re worried about a little bit of sweat ruining your tattoo, then you can stop worrying. Billions of people (probably) throughout history have proudly worn tattoos, and if sweat was such a show-stopper during the tattoo healing process, then we’d see everybody walking around with half-faded, unrecognizable blots of ink etched into their skin. Everybody sweats once in a while (unless you have Anhidrosis).

General sweating, and even slightly heavier perspiration shouldn’t be too much of a problem while your tattoo is healing, but you should still probably stay away from extreme or excessive exercise for at least 3-4 weeks until your tattoo has fully healed.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t read the rest of this article to see how sweat and tattoos interact with each other, though. It’s still important to understand what impact sweat can have on your tattoos, and how your tattoos can even have an impact on your sweat!

Sweating Function

There are between 2 and 4 million sweat glands in your body, most of which are in your hands and feet. Your body’s sweating function is crucial to regulating body temperature.

The eccrine and apocrine glands are responsible for releasing sweat in our bodies. Eccrine glands are smaller and more widely dispersed over the body, while apocrine glands are larger and located around the hair follicles. 

The autonomic nervous system is in charge of sweating. Movement of the body will generate heat, in turn increasing blood flow. Sweat is then dispersed via skin ducts and evaporates over the body. It’s your body’s very own cooling system.

Will Sweating Affect My New Tattoo?

The body is going through its natural recovery process. Sweating can disturb this natural healing and halt the process, causing a variety of issues. 

A group of researchers at Alma College in Michigan performed a study investigating the relationship between sweating and tattoo function. Luetkemeier, the lead professor in the study, discovered that both sweat glands and the ink dispersion area resided at a very similar depth in the skin.

Thus, the ink will interfere with the body’s sweat function in the following cases:

  • Exercise
  • Infection
  • Healing

Exercise Performance 

A study by the Alma College researchers found differences between the sweat behavior on tattooed skin compared to non-tattooed skin. The participants demonstrated an altered sweat rate.

The results led research professor Luetkemeier to believe that ‘tattooed skin generated less sweat’ than non-tattooed skin. Their electrolyte and sodium concentration was higher, which suggests that once tattooed, sweat glands become less able to absorb sodium from perspiration. 

The location of ink dispersion is located close to the sweat glands, at around 3–5mm. It’s therefore theorized that perhaps the tattoo wound damages the microscopic drainage tubing of the sweat glands. 


You may be aware that placing a fresh tattoo in direct contact with a lot of water won’t do it any good. It’s a delicate, open wound, and you must treat it as such.

This is why sweating will also cause unwanted harm to a new tattoo. Perspiration can entrap excess moisture in the area of a tattoo. This build-up of moisture will become a breeding ground for harmful microorganisms and promote bacterial growth. In turn, this can lead to a bacterial infection.

Although the skin is a robust organ, it’s possible that these germs could be too strong to be combated by the immune system. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that surface skin infections often go unreported and can be treated antibiotically. Even so, don’t let this decrease your vigilance to the problem. 

Sweat Can Disturb the Healing Process

It’s essential to comprehend the organic recovery process of the body. This will give you more insight into why sweating can negatively affect a healing tattoo. 

The healing of the wound relies heavily on the aftercare it’s subjected too. A tattoo can take several weeks to heal, and during this time, the body will be healing. Immune cells called macrophages work to maintain the foreign ink particles inside of the skin. The macrophages phagocytose ink and trap it in the cytoplasm of their cells.

All tattoos go through a considerable healing process

Despite the body working so effectively, excessive sweating with a new tattoo can disintegrate the ink before the skin has had time to trap it. The macrophages will then be unable to carry out their work successfully. This can also alter the appearance of the tattoo and create blurriness or fading.

Don’t Sweat It! 

Be sure to minimize the amount you sweat when your tattoo is still fresh and the skin is still healing. Sweating is a vital bodily function, but it can disrupt your body’s ability to recover by prolonging the healing process and trapping bacteria if it’s too excessive. Tattooing can also disturb the body’s ability to produce sweat, which can disrupt exercise performance.

But in summary, as long as you’re not running half-marathons and doing 300 pushups a day, you and your tattoo should turn out just fine.

When you eventually go ahead with getting your dream tattoo, it’s imperative that you always follow your tattoo artist’s aftercare advice closely, and be sure to invest in a high-quality tattoo healing lotion to aid recovery.

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.​

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