There is a reason that tattoo artists recommend ice for your new tattoo. They are veterans when it comes to tattoos and there are a lot of benefits of ice on a new tattoo. So let’s see what they are.
One of the first things you will notice with your new tattoo is the fact the tattooed skin and the skin around it are swelling. This is absolutely normal! The tattoo is like an open wound so swelling is a sign that the tattoo is recovering. The cold from the ice will help reduce the inflammation of the skin and promote it to heal at a faster rate. In no time, your swelling will reduce significantly.
There is considerable pain once you get a new tattoo. The constant piercing of the skin causes the skin of the tattooed area to become hot. Not to mention the stinging pain that you will experience as it is exposed. The pain can be considerably reduced when you use ice on your new tattoo, giving it a soothing feeling and helping control the pain.
The worst part of a new tattoo is the peeling of skin and itchiness that comes after the first week. While it might not hurt as much, the feeling of wanting to itch at the skin can become almost unbearable. Everyone who has gotten a tattoo will tell you to never itch your tattoo because it will ruin the healing process. Therefore, applying ice will not only soothe the skin and itching but will also help the peeling of the skin fall off faster. Remember to let any scabbing and peeling fall off on their own.
The first time you have to wash your new tattoo is probably going to be the worst. This is because the excess tattoo ink is going to leak from the skin. This excess tattoo ink is made up of tattoo ink, blood, and plasma so you have to carefully clean it. And then there will be more leaking that will occur because the blood vessels on the skin are pushing out any excess ink that is left. What ice will do is help slow down the leaking and help set the ink in the dermis of the skin. While you might be worried about the leaking, it is totally normal and goes away after the first week!
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Now that you have learned some of the benefits of ice on a new tattoo, you probably are wondering how should I apply the ice on the new tattoo. There are some things you should definitely know about how to apply the ice so that you don’t ruin the tattoo and slow down the healing process.
This is a must every time you are going to apply ice on a new tattoo! Especially during the first day of the new tattoo to clean away any excess tattoo ink. Always use antibacterial soap to stop any infection from occurring on the tattoo. Scented soaps are a big no! The scent of scented soap contains chemicals that might harm your new tattoo. Use lukewarm water to help wash the tattoo, but do not submerge the tattoo in water. This will cause more ink to leak and disfigure the tattoo. Afterward, pat dry with a clean paper towel.
Another important thing with ice is you never apply it directly. Especially ice cubes! They might have bacteria in them which can cause infections to occur. Instead, use a cold compress packed with some ice. And even then don’t apply the cold compress directly! Wrap the cold compress with a towel that is slightly wet and then apply it on the skin. A dry towel might stick to the tattoo because the new tattoo ink has not dried up properly till after the first week or so.
When you have the cold compress wrapped in a towel, always try to apply it in a circular motion. This is to avoid any part of the skin from becoming too cold. If the skin becomes too cold, there might be skin and tissue damage especially if the cold compress is applied for too long.
With that said, how long should you use a cold compress on a new tattoo? Rule of thumb: never exceed 30 minutes. The ideal time to use the cold compress is between 15 to 20 minutes. This is just enough time for the skin to become cold to give the soothing feeling but not too long that you might cause damage to the skin.
After knowing the circular motion of applying and the duration to do so, how often should you apply the compress on the tattoo? The key to using ice on a new tattoo is to make sure that you give the skin enough time to heal naturally as well. On the first day, you can apply the ice compress immediately after unwrapping and cleaning the new tattoo. I would recommend that you use the ice every 3 to 4 hours during the first week and then 4 to 6 hours after the first week. This creates a regular interval of time between which the new tattoo skin will heal in the most optimal condition!
With this, you have now successfully learned how to apply ice to a new tattoo! Remember to clean the area after using the cold compress with a bit of warm water so the skin is back to its normal temperature. Then pat dry the area with a paper towel or a clean towel and let the skin heal on its own.
There are many ice packs on the market but the material used to make them might not be suitable for the new tattoo. That is why making a cold compress is a better alternative! All you need is ice, a plastic bag, and a clean towel. Of course, you have to make sure that everything is clean as possible to prevent infecting the tattoo.
First, you need to pack the plastic bag with the ice. To make it extra chilled, what I do is pack the ice in the plastic bag and then keep it in the freezer for a couple of minutes. That way the bag is cold and then ice will help keep the cold temperature for longer. And then you take the clean towel and wrap your plastic bag with ice inside, and you have a cold compress. Make sure that the towel surface is slightly wet so that it does not stick to the tattoo.
It is always helpful to be reminded of some tattoo aftercare tips for new tattoos so here are some of my tips:
From my personal experience, I never had any problems using ice on my new tattoo. It helped ease the pain and most of all the itching. I always had problems with itching with any new tattoo and ice has been the best solution so far! I highly recommend it, but always ask your tattoo artist about your tattoo. They will know best.
Can you use ice on an infected tattoo?
You can use ice on an infected tattoo in the same way you would on a normal tattoo. Know that the tattoo will be more fragile so be extra careful. Remember to change the towel of the compress when you reapply some ice later.
Can ice ruin my new tattoo?
If used incorrectly, ice can ruin your new tattoo.
How long does a tattoo need to heal properly?
Generally, the top layer of the tattooed skin heals within a month, but it takes about 6 months for the skin to be fully healed.
Do all tattoos bruise?
Yes, all tattoos will bruise and swell on and off initially, but they will stop after the tattoo heals within the first month. If the bruising occurs after the first month, you should contact a dermatologist.
So there you have it. For any pain, itching, and general healing, ice is the best to use. When you apply the ice correctly, it helps the tattoo ink to set, reduces swelling, and helps cool down the inflammation of the skin. Just remember that a new tattoo is prone to infections so keep the tattooed skin dry as possible.
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