Should You Wrap A Tattoo For Work?

  • Written By Dan Hunter on November 9, 2020
    Last Updated: December 31, 2020

Aftercare is vital for every new tattoo. Keeping your tattoo clean and covered can help preserve the quality, but it also has health implications. The new tattoo is an open wound that needs to heal properly. Infection is a real danger if you do not follow the correct aftercare procedures.

The Initial Wrap

Initially, the artist will wrap your tattoo. However, you may wonder if you should continue to protect it when you go back to your daily activities. 

While you might not need to wrap your tattoo when you go back to work, it could be beneficial to do so in some situations. 

Here is what you should know about wrapping your tattoo. 

What Happens After You Get Your Tattoo?

After the artist has finished applying your tattoo, they will perform aftercare procedures. They will cover the area with ointment. Then, they will wrap it in gauze or plastic wrap. 

This initial covering, which you keep on for a few hours, will prevent infection. It will also keep your wound from brushing against your clothes (depending on the location of the tattoo). Any friction, even mild rubbing against a shirt, could cause painful irritation.

After a few hours, when you are home, you can uncover the tattoo, wash it with mild soap and leave it to heal in the open air. Artists will often recommend letting the tattoo heal in the open air as much as possible. On the other hand, many will suggest keeping it wrapped for the first night to avoid infection and irritation from sheets or pillows.

Should You Wrap Your Tattoo Before Working?

If you work in a dirty environment or outdoors, you might want to consider wrapping your tattoo for the first week. Any dirt or bacteria that comes into contact with your tattoo could cause an infection.

If you work in a clean environment, such as an office, you probably do not need to wrap your tattoo. Although, if it gets irritated by your clothing, you may want to look into wrapping it, but only after you’ve been given the go-ahead by your tattoo artist.

Tattoo artist approval is always required before you decide to re-wrap a tattoo by yourself due to the possibility of doing more harm than good to your ink if you wrap the tattoo wrong.

If the wrapping process is performed incorrectly, you could unknowingly be trapping bacteria between your skin and the wrapping material, which is a perfect, humid environment for breeding.

You might consider wearing loose-fitting clothing to avoid irritation and the hassle of changing the wrap during the workday. 

If you are wrapping the tattoo during the day, you still need to clean and rewrap it in a sterile way every six hours or so. 

Wrapping Your Own Tattoo

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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Wrap tattoo: Wrap the tattoo with clean, fresh plastic without using any ointment, lotion or moisturizer.
  4. Remove the wrap: Remove the wrap when you wake up (or every four to six hours), wash the tattoo and dry it as explained in step 2.
  5. Repeat: Redo this full wrapping and cleaning process for three-to-five days.

Avoid Moisture

When you wrap the tattoo, you protect it from irritating friction and bacteria. Still, the inside of the wrapping will perspire. For this reason, you need to follow a strict cleaning and drying process every four to six hours. 

The wrapping-rewrapping cycle may seem like a lot of work, but the irritation from overly moist skin and the chance of infection make this effort necessary.

Plan Ahead

One option to avoid dealing with wrapping is to plan your tattoo for the end of the workweek or when you have a holiday. This timing will give you the chance to remain at home or away from work while your tattoo heals in the open air. 

You may also choose to plan a tattoo for vacation time. However, keep in mind that you will need to avoid water and excessive sunlight, so you won’t be enjoying a beach or swimming pool if you get a tattoo during your vacation.

Other Times to Wrap a Tattoo

While exercising or playing sports, you can consider wrapping your tattoo. If you play a contact sport, wrapping is essential because any direct contact could be painful and cause an infection. 

After finishing your game or workout, you need to unwrap the tattoo, clean it thoroughly with gentle soap and let it dry completely. Lotion should them be applied to the area once dry.

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.

You should never enter a pool or hot tub with an unhealed tattoo. Immersing a new tattoo in water is an easy way to damage the tattoo or get an infection. Even if you wrap the tattoo in plastic, you should not immerse it in water. 


Your tattoo artist will wrap your tattoo when you leave the studio. If you remain home or in a relatively clean work environment, you won’t need to cover it again. 

However, if you work outdoors or in a dirty environment, you should consider wrapping your tattoo for work, at least for the first three to five days after you get it. Wrapping protects against irritation and infection, though it can also cause further harm to the area if done incorrectly.