Why You Should Be Cautious About Swimming After a Tattoo

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on September 13th, 2023

Congratulations, you’ve just got your new tattoo! It looks amazing, and you can’t wait to show it off—perhaps by flaunting it at the pool or during a beach outing. Hold on, though! Before you jump into the water, it’s crucial to know how long you should wait before swimming with a new tattoo. With a focus on safety and tattoo longevity, this article walks you through the essential guidelines, offering expert-backed insights to make sure your new ink stays as perfect as the day you got it.

Grasp the Serious Risks of Early Pool Visits

It’s not merely a matter of inky smudges when it comes to swimming with a fresh tattoo. You’re opening yourself up to a world of risks that could severely impact your skin’s health and the quality of your tattoo. The first offender? Waterborne bacteria. Bodies of water—be it your neighborhood pool or an idyllic lake—are typically teeming with bacteria and microorganisms that could penetrate your newly inked skin, potentially leading to severe infections.

tattoo, tattoo artist, arm

Chlorine, commonly found in pools and hot tubs, is another concern. While chlorine works well for water purification, it can wreak havoc on a new tattoo, causing irritation and potentially delaying the healing process. To minimize these risks, your tattoo is properly healed before you swim with it.  The general advice is to wait a minimum of two weeks post-inking.

Consult Your Tattoo Artist for Personalized Guidance

The internet is a treasure trove of information, but when it comes to the well-being of your new tattoo, there’s no better source than your tattoo artist. This individual has first-hand experience with your skin type, tattoo design, and ink quality. Schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss your swimming plans and other lifestyle activities that may impact the healing process of your tattoo. Your tattoo artist will offer bespoke advice that should supersede any general guidelines you come across online.

The Two-Week Rule: An Overview

It’s generally recommended to wait at least two weeks after getting inked before you submerge your tattoo in water. Patience is more than a virtue in this case—it’s a necessity for your tattoo’s longevity and your skin’s health. Diving into a pool or the ocean too soon could cause the ink to fade and increase the risk of bacterial infection. So, as eager as you may be to make a splash, giving your body ample time to heal is a non-negotiable.

Choosing Chlorine-Free Zones

If you’re determined to swim, opt for chlorine-free environments. Chlorine can dry out and irritate your skin, potentially leading to ink discoloration and even an unsightly infection. Even if you’ve followed the two-week rule, steer clear of chlorinated pools and hot tubs. Instead, aim for freshwater lakes or even saltwater, but take additional precautions as advised by your tattoo artist or dermatologist.

Tattoo Care Pre and Post-Swimming

Even when your tattoo has fully healed, it’s imperative to keep it clean and protected when swimming. Gently clean the area with a mild soap and warm water before entering any body of water. If your tattoo is still in the healing phase, you may want to apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment before covering it with a waterproof bandage. Once you’re out of the water, be sure to wash off any chemicals or salt, and reapply a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated.

Recognizing Infection Symptoms

Even with utmost caution, infections can happen. It’s important to recognize the signs, such as increased heat around the tattooed area, redness, or pus discharge. Other symptoms to look out for include pain, itching, and swelling. If any of these signs appear, consult a medical professional immediately. Timely treatment with antibiotics can usually manage minor infections, but delaying could lead to complications.

Know Your Swimming Environment

Whether you’re swimming in a controlled environment like a public pool or going natural by swimming in the ocean or a lake, being aware of water conditions is crucial. Natural bodies of water often have varying bacteria levels and can be tricky when it comes to new tattoos. Always consider the quality of water you will be swimming in, and if possible, opt for well-maintained, filtered water locations.

Beware of Natural Water Risks

Natural bodies of water offer their own set of challenges. From bacterial concerns to intensified sun exposure, being extra cautious is key. To safeguard your new ink, keep it covered with clothing or a high-SPF, waterproof sunscreen specifically designed for tattooed skin. Post-swim, inspect your tattoo for any signs of infection or irritation and seek medical advice if necessary.

Opt for Tattoo-Friendly Swimwear

Once your tattoo has healed and you’re ready to venture into the water, choosing the right swimwear becomes another layer of protection. Opt for garments made of breathable, lightweight fabrics that can cover your tattoo. Additional items like a rash guard or light cover-up can offer an extra shield against sun and water exposure.

Regular Aftercare: Moisturizing and Sunscreen

Taking care of your tattoo doesn’t end once you leave the tattoo parlor. Regularly moisturizing helps maintain the vibrancy of the ink and promotes faster healing. Always use a high-SPF sunscreen when exposing your tattoo to the sun. Look for sunscreens that are specifically formulated for tattooed skin, as these usually provide better protection and are less likely to interfere with the healing process.

Whether you’re a tattoo newbie or an ink aficionado, knowing the ropes of post-tattoo care is essential. So, enjoy your new tattoo, but also remember that a little caution goes a long way in ensuring your ink remains as flawless as possible. 


Editorial Staff

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