“And how long will it take for a tattoo to heal?” is one of the million dollar questions we get asked by friends who come to our studio, along with “will it hurt, how long will it take, and how much will it cost?”. And the truth is, we can’t offer universal answers to almost any of them.
Today we are going to focus on the one that affects the healing process of the tattoo by telling you what you will notice at each moment so that you know how long it may take to see it healed and perfect.
How long does it take to heal a tattoo
We are not going to deny it, we love tattoos and how our skin looks when they are completely healed! Until then, the tattoo is still a wound on our skin made by the action of the needles on it, which break the most superficial layers and leave ink underneath. And as with any wound on the body, it will need specific care and will take more or less time to heal depending on how rigorous you are with that care and the rate of regeneration of tissues that your body has.
In general a small tattoo will heal in about two weeks (14 days) and a larger one will take about 20 days.
Healing Phases of Tattoo
The process that leads to the healing of a tattoo goes through different phases in which you may notice different symptoms. We review them so that you know how to act in each one of them.
Phase 1. It covers the first three days after having the design done and is defined by the swelling and sensitivity of the area. The tattoo usually has a rough texture, as the skin is still irritated by the action of the needles. The larger the design, the more swelling and discomfort you will notice in the area. The swelling will improve from the third day onwards, while the sensitivity will still be with you for a few days, although 72 hours after getting the tattoo, it should have improved. If either of these symptoms persist, have your tattoo checked for infection. While this is happening, take care of the design as instructed by the studio to promote the healing process.
Phase 2. It lasts up to a week after leaving the studio. On the third day it is normal that the area begins to have a crust very characteristic of the healing process of a tattoo and different from that of any conventional wound. You will recognize it because it is soft due to the action of the cream that you apply every time you wash it. Little by little the scab will come off by itself. Do not pull it off and be very careful when drying the area so as not to drag debris. Along with this scab, the tattoo may emit some mucus, which is also normal and the result of body fluids that mix with the ink and moisturizer. Be careful! This mucus is creamy in texture and does not have a bad odor. Do not confuse it with the pus from an infected wound, which is usually yellowish or brownish in color and has a bad odor.
Phase 3. Between 7 and 15 days, and as long as you have taken good care of the area, itching will become the most common symptom of your tattoo. The reason for this is very simple: on the one hand, all the skin injured by the action of the needles is regenerating and, on the other hand, the hair that was shaved to tattoo you also breaks through. Avoid scratching by all means. We know it is very difficult, but it is essential to avoid damaging the design or that our nails, which accumulate a lot of dirt, end up infecting the tattoo. If you can’t stand it, increase the frequency with which you wash and moisturize or blow on the area. It won’t totally soothe but it will give some relief.
Phase 4. After the first 15 days, all bothersome symptoms should have disappeared. You may notice some itching if the design is very large for about 7 more days, but the rest will be water under the bridge. Continue to moisturize your skin intensely so that it regains the smooth appearance it has always had.
And now that you know how long it takes for a tattoo to heal and how it will heal, are you ready to get yours?