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How Long Do You Have to Cover Up a Tattoo After Getting One?

author image Daniel Kirk
Daniel Kirk began writing health articles in 2002. He's written for "Relevant," Hospital Corporation of America's "You" and "Custom Publishing Review: Healthcare." Kirk was the first writer chosen from a health-care custom-publishing company to attend the National Institute of Health's Medicine in the Media conference. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from King College.
How Long Do You Have to Cover Up a Tattoo After Getting One?
A tattoo artist finishes up a tattoo on a client's arm. Photo Credit Charles Knox/iStock/Getty Images

After years of thought, you finally figured out what tattoo you want. You found a tattoo artist you felt comfortable with, set the big day and endured thousands of needle sticks. When the tattoo artist was finished, you got one long look at your new tattoo in the mirror. Then it was suddenly covered in a non-stick bandage, and all you wanted to do was rip the bandage off and show your new ink to your friends.


While you may be itching to rip the bandage off right away, your tattoo artist has good reason to cover up your new tattoo. He does this because your tattoo is essentially one large or small, depending on the size of your tattoo, open wound. By leaving it uncovered, you run the risk of ruining whatever clothing it comes in contact with or allowing bacteria to get in your blood, increasing your risk of infection.


Remove the bandage when the bleeding stops. Though it takes different people different amounts of time to stop bleeding, two hours is usually enough time to get your bleeding under control. Once the bleeding has stopped, remove the bandage to allow the tattoo to breathe and prevent your healing tattoo from sticking to your bandage, which can result in ink being pulled from the tattoo site. In the event the bandage does stick to your bandage, slowly remove the bandage to prevent any damage to the tattoo.

Visual Aid

Ask for plastic wrap. For more immediate gratification from your tattoo experience, ask your tattoo artist to wrap your tattoo in plastic wrap. This allows you to keep your tattoo from being exposed to bacteria while making it possible for admiring friends to see your tattoo through the bandage.


In the event you’re heading to a company meeting or getting on a four-hour flight immediately after receiving your tattoo, tell your tattoo artist. By knowing this, she can wrap your new tattoo in an appropriate bandage and spread an extra amount of ointment on your bandage to prevent it from sticking before you get a chance to remove the bandage.


Once you've removed the bandage from your tattoo, it's time to get to work. For the next 10 to 14 days, you'll need to wash your tattoo multiple times each day, spread a thin layer of healing ointment on the tattoo and keep it out of the sun. By following these steps, you'll help your tattoo look its best for years to come.

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