So you got your brand new tattoo and can’t wait to show it off. But when you remove the bandage, your beautiful design is oozing and raw. Not the most attractive look!

If you’re new to getting a tattoo and you’re concerned about how well it’s healing, rest assured that scabbing and bleeding of a new tattoo is normal. 

After all, your skin has been pierced many times with a needle, and the body needs time to heal. As long as you follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist, it will turn out just fine.

Why Tattoos Scab Over and How Long it Will Last

Gross as it sounds, a new tattoo is an open wound, and just like any cut or scrape, scabbing is part of the healing process. 

Along with scabbing, you can also expect the skin to flake or peel and become scratchy. Here’s the thing, though – no matter how irritating the itching becomes, you must not scratch! If you don’t give your skin a chance to heal naturally, you’ll prolong the process and potentially get scarring from the picking.

As for the amount of time, until your tattoo is completely healed, there is no hard and fast rule of how long a tattoo takes to heal. It’s largely dependent on:

  • How sensitive your skin is
  • The size of your tattoo, type of ink, and location on the body
  • How strong your immune system is
  • How much water you’re drinking
  • Making sure you avoid submerging your tattoo while it’s healing
  • Other general factors like the climate and your fitness level

Tattoo Healing Time and Peeling Stages

Here’s a general timeline of the tattoo healing process:

  • Days 1-3: You likely won’t have any scabbing right away, but your tattoo may be bleeding, red, and swollen. Some people with more sensitive skin also get bruising.
  • Days 4-6: Light scabbing will appear at this point. At this stage, you should be washing your tattoo with antibacterial soap three times a day.
  • Day 7-14: This is generally when scabbing and skin peeling will be at their worst. Again – do not pick! If you are itchy, a moisturizer might help.
  • Day 14+: Finally, the scabs will start falling off on their own, but you still must not scratch while the tattoo is peeling.

What if my tattoo doesn’t seem to be healing correctly?

If you’re looking at your tattoo right now and it just does NOT seem to be healing well, you should go back to your tattoo artists to guide what to do next. 

Here are some signs you should be heading to your tattoo artist or a doctor:

  • Thick scabbing over your tattoo develops
  • The edges of your scabs are red, inflamed, and painful
  • The scabs are developing pus or oozing
  • Your tattoo is bleeding after the first day or two or becomes excessively painful

All of these are signs of potential infection and need to be addressed quickly.

Tattoo Aftercare Tips to Speed up Healing

  • We’ll say it one more time – DO NOT PICK YOUR SCABS. Even if you’re in agony, it’s not worth potentially messing up your tattoo. Don’t scratch around the tattooed area either, as the constant prodding of the tattoo area can dislodge your scabs prematurely!
  • Only wash your tattoo with antibacterial soap. Your tattoo artists can recommend a brand for you to use. Use warm water and pat the tattoo dry.
  • Do not swim or soak your tattoo while it’s healing, as it can lead to an infection.
  • If you’re at all concerned, do consult with your tattoo artist sooner rather than later, as an unaddressed infection can lead to all manner of complications. 

Want to Learn More?

Here at Sage Tattoo and Art Gallery, we take tattoo aftercare very seriously. If you still have questions about tattoo aftercare, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to answer any of your inquiries!