How to Waterproof a Tattoo for Swimming?

So, here’s the situation: you just got a new tattoo, and with summer approaching, you may be wondering if you can truly go swimming. Your tattoo artist must have warned you against submerging your new tattoo in water.

Now, you’re researching waterproofing a tattoo for swimming because, let’s be honest, we all can’t wait for summer to arrive so we can spend long, hot days at the beach taking refreshing dives in the ocean.

We’ve chosen to publish a brief tutorial on how to protect your tattoo from water, as well as some guidelines for new tattoos and swimming in general, because we fully appreciate your difficulties. So, without further ado, let’s immediately begin!

How To Protect A New Tattoo When Swimming

Why This Combo is a No-No?

In light of the fact that new tattoos are still a form of healing wound, it is vital to discuss the types of water exposure you may tolerate until the tattoo has completely healed.

Therefore, swimming with a new tattoo is strictly forbidden. Every single tattoo artist will underline and rule out the possibilities of this. You may now be wondering why?

In order for new tattoos to heal, they must dry out. By drying out, the skin develops scabs beneath which new skin layers form, allowing the tattoo to cure completely and acquire a matte appearance.

Now, if you submerge a new tattoo in water, you run the risk of moisture buildup, which means the tattoo will be too wet to dry and begin the healing process. Thus, the tattoo will become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and germs. As we all know, having germs around a wound is never a healthy thing. This can directly lead to inflammation or infection of the tattoo, which can severely disrupt the healing process and, eventually, the tattoo’s design once it has fully healed.

Do you really want to jeopardise an expensive and painful investment such as your tattoo for a few minutes of swimming? Let’s hope you answered no, because the moisture accumulation issue is anything but innocuous. The repercussions can seriously compromise your immune system and overall health. Moreover, if the tattoo becomes infected, even if it heals well, you will have to pay more for a tattoo touch-up, making your tattoo a poor investment.

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So, When Can I Go Under Water?

When it comes to diving underwater with a new tattoo, we must differentiate between a brief shower and a full-fledged swim.

We must all shower, however it is recommended to wait a few days after getting a fresh tattoo before showering. We’ll discuss this in greater detail in the next paragraphs, but in general, you should never expose your tattoo to direct water pressure while showering, and it should always be protected.

It is preferable to wait until the tattoo has fully healed before swimming. When will that be, you might ask? Well, it could take up to two months for your tattoo to heal, depending on your immune system, tattoo aftercare routine, and overall skin health and resiliency. Once the tattoo is completely healed, closed, scab-free, and matte in appearance. This implies that you should avoid swimming for at least two to three weeks, just to be safe.

The ocean, rivers, and ponds may contain bacteria, and you may wish to prevent a bacterial infection of the tattoo. Therefore, by refraining from swimming for a few weeks, you are guaranteeing that the tattoo remains in good health. Therefore, be patient and wait; it will be worth it!

Showering With a New Tattoo +. Protection

Now, one of the most frequently asked topics regarding fresh tattoos is how to shower. Showering with a new tattoo is somewhat challenging. Unless you protect your tattoo and keep it away from direct submersion in water, everyday showers are acceptable.

If you are still in the first few days of the tattoo’s healing phase, you should now thoroughly shower your new tattoo. This is the most vulnerable phase of tattoo healing, when infections are most likely to develop. Therefore, wait a few days until the tattoo begins to seal, dry, and heal.

Once the tattoo is visibly healed, you may then take a full-body shower. However, your tattoo still requires protection. We advise adding a little layer of Vaseline to the tattoo so that it remains waterproof when showering. Upon completion of your shower, remove all the Vaseline and carefully clean your tattoo.

Otherwise, Vaseline can cause your tattoo to shut, inhibit airflow (which is crucial for skin healing), and perhaps create an infection.Do not expose the tattoo to direct water pressure while showering. You shouldn’t wash your tattoo in the shower or do anything similar until it has completely healed. You will just induce moisture buildup and risk a tattoo infection by doing so.

Swimming With a New Tattoo

We have a few things to discuss regarding swimming with a new tattoo.

First and foremost, do not even consider covering your unhealed tattoo with Vaseline or Aquaphor so that you can go swimming. Unless you seek a bacterial infection and a botched tattoo design, you should avoid water (including petroleum jelly products) until the tattoo has completely healed.

If it’s been more than four weeks and your tattoo is completely healed and scab-free, you can attempt to go swimming. Technically, there should be no problems, but we still recommend that you wait a few extra weeks. However, if you can’t wait to take a dip, it is strongly advised that you apply a waterproof bandage. This may prevent a tattoo infection caused by bacterial exposure to water.

You may believe that swimming pools are cleaner than natural bodies of water; they are less polluted and contain fewer bacteria; thus, I can swim there. There may be fewer bacteria in swimming pools, but they also contain chlorine. In addition, this chemical can bring its own set of complications to your new tattoo. It can irritate the skin, cause a rash in the tattooed area, and since swimming pools are not bacteria-free, the tattoo could also become infected.

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Risks and Health Issues Summary

Allowing your tattoo sufficient time to cure is vital not only for the tattoo’s health but also for your own. By delaying the healing process, you risk inflammation and infection, both of which can result in major health complications. To highlight why you shouldn’t go swimming with a new tattoo, we have compiled a list of the probable problems;

  • Infection – by going swimming, you could be exposing your new tattoo to an array of different bacteria which can cause different kinds of infections. The infections can be mild, but also severe, leading to death in rare cases. A case of a man contracting flesh-eating bacteria after swimming in the Gulf of Mexico with a new tattoo is something to remember as a life lesson.
  • Skin irritation – because new tattoos are sensitive, skin irritation easily occurs after exposure to water. The water exposure can lead to rashes and uncomfortable irritations, which can lead to infections, especially after exposure to chlorine (which can penetrate through tattooed skin and trigger inflammation). The irritation can also lead to blistering of the tattoo, swelling, raising, open sores, and so much more, which can be damaging to both your health and your pricey tattoo.
  • Tattoo damage – as we mentioned, both infections and irritations can lead to serious tattoo damage. Sea salt, chlorine, and bacteria, all can cause damage to the tattoo design, issues with the tattoo ink, causing messed-up lines, and poor color payoff.

Final Thoughts

We recognize how tempting it is to immediately show off your new tattoo and go swimming. Having a little patience with something that has just been “carved” into your flesh and will last a lifetime, however, should be basic sense. Allow your tattoo to completely heal; nothing will ever be able to shield it from water like your own skin.

Be patient and schedule your tattoos carefully; if you want to go swimming during the summer, try not to get your tattoo a couple of months before the holiday season; instead, get it done in the fall or winter so that it may fully heal in time for a refreshing swim.


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