How Long Does It Take To Heal A Tattoo And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 5th, 2022

Exact answer: two weeks to six months

A tattoo normally takes approximately two weeks to seem healed, but it takes several weeks to heal completely at all levels of the skin. The healing time might vary depending on the type of ink, the style, and the size.

shallow focus photo of person tattooing person's right arm

Varying sections of your body have somewhat different sensitivities and skin types, influencing how effectively the ink absorbs and how soon it heals. Even if your tattoo seems to be healed before that time, it may take up to 6 months to completely repair all of the layers of torn skin.

The healing process differs based on the individual’s immune system, capacity to fight infections, and aftercare therapy, including cleanliness and sun protection.

How Long Does It Take To Heal A Tattoo?

External skin layers2 weeks
Complete healing process6 months

Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks for a tattoo to heal fully. The time, however, fluctuates. In many situations, the tattoo will not heal for many weeks, if not a month.

After 2-3 weeks, the outside layer of skin may feel healed; the inner layer takes longer. Tattoos with vast surface areas take longer to heal if not properly cared for. Moisturizing or applying SPF may help to speed up the process. Even so, asking the tattoo artist about aftercare is a good idea.

The healing process occurs gradually and in phases. When a tattoo is done, it is wrapped for a period while kept open. The skin is now an open wound and will act as such.

There may be dull discomfort, a burning feeling, or inflammation, but this is not causing concern. Follow the aftercare instructions. The tattoo may feel like it’s coming out, but don’t be alarmed.

Proper moisturization should be used. Avoid scratching or injuring yourself during this time. Rest assured, the tattoo ink will not fade.

It may also be irritating, so consult the tattoo artist or a doctor for treatment. The irritation, discomfort, or inflammation will fade with time, indicating that the tattoo is drying out.

Even if the area becomes irritating, avoid scratching it; instead, keep it simple and let it dry. If the redness persists, see a doctor to rule out an infection.

Why Does It Take So Long To Heal A Tattoo?

The healing process is heavily influenced by the tattoo’s placement on a person’s body. A stable skin that does not move much heals faster than one that moves all the time.

It happens when the skin extends around joints, disrupting the pattern of the tattoo and the flesh beneath.

Aside from that, body shape, skin type, and personal working circumstances are important considerations. If the skin around the tattoo is regularly in contact with something, a job with greater wear and tear may impact it.

The 2-4 week period is an average of the time necessary for the healing process. However, based on the circumstances described above, it may extend the time restriction to several days.

The tattoo’s upkeep influences the healing process to some extent. For the best maintenance, keep it clean and use sunscreen and moisturizer. After a few weeks, the skin will progressively peel away, revealing the tattoo.

Even tattoos with richer color combinations may take a bit longer to cure. These aspects must be considered once you get a tattoo on your body.

Which tattoos require the most time to heal?

The placement of your tattoo determines the duration of the healing period. A tattoo near a joint (such as the hand or ankle) or anywhere that flexes (such as the wrist) will, for example, take longer than one in a non-moving area.

Larger tattoos, as well as those with complex color work, will take longer to heal.

However, remember that the recovery schedule also heavily depends on each individual’s physiology.

Stages of tattoo healing

There are four unique stages of tattoo healing, and the care for your tattoo varies significantly depending on the stage.

Week One

The initial stage lasts from day one until roughly day six. Your new tattoo will be wrapped for the first several hours before becoming an exposed wound. Because your body reacts to the damage, you may detect redness, leaking, mild inflammation or swelling, or a burning sensation.

Week two

Itching and flaking may occur at this point. Flaky skin isn’t a cause for concern; it’s a natural reaction, and the ink will stay in place even though it appears peeling.

Avoid scratching or picking at scabs. A tattoo artist or doctor-recommended moisturizer can keep the skin around the tattoo moisturized and may relieve irritation.

Weeks three and four

The irritation should subside as your tattoo begins to dry off. If it doesn’t, and the redness remains, it might indicate an infected tattoo. Your tattoo may look less bright than usual. However, this is due to forming a layer of dry skin over it.

This will exfoliate naturally, revealing the vibrant tattoo. Resist the impulse to pick or scrape since this might result in scars.

Months 2 through 6

Itching and redness should have reduced by this time, and your tattoo should appear to have healed. However, it’s a good idea to keep up with aftercare. Staying hydrated, wearing SPF or sun-protective clothes, and keeping the tattoo clean are all part of long-term tattoo care.

What not to do while a tattoo heals?

Don’t scratch it.

Itching is a normal aspect of the healing process for a tattoo. Don’t back down. Scarring might result from scratching your fresh tattoo.

Avoid exposing your fresh tattoo to direct sunlight.

Sunlight will cause your new tattoo to fade and discolor. When your tattoos have healed, use tattoo sunscreen to protect them.

Do not immerse your tattoo in water.

Allowing your tattoo to be soaked in water might result in the growth of germs.

Avoid using scented lotions.

Scented lotions and perfumes include chemicals that will fade the color of your tattoo. They are also capable of causing inflammation.

Use items that are particularly intended for tattoo care if possible.

Shave around the tattooed area only when it has completely healed.

Hair or shaving cream that gets into the skin might severely irritate the tattoo. It’s better to wait until the tattoo has completely healed before attempting to shave close to it.

Tips for Tattoo Healing and Aftercare

The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends the following tattoo healing tips:

  • Hydrate with an appropriate cream: If the tattoo and surrounding skin are dry, it is preferable to use a water-based cream or lotion to moisturize them. Petroleum-based products should not be used since they might cause fading.
  • Keep the tattoo out of the sun: Tattoos can fade if they are exposed to too much sunshine. People should use broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. It is recommended that you apply it at least 15 minutes before going outside and that you reapply it every couple of hours.
  • Use tanning beds sparingly: Tattoos can be faded by UV radiation equipment such as sunlamps and tanning beds. They also raise the chances of acquiring skin cancer. UV rays can trigger a painful response in tattooed skin in certain people.
  • Do not tattoo over moles: When having a new tattoo, people should pick a spot on their skin that is free of moles. Otherwise, a tattoo may conceal early signs of skin cancer and cause a delay in obtaining treatment.
  • Wash the tattoo: It is important to wash it regularly using a fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, antibacterial soap. Before using a cream, people should also softly pat their skin dry with a paper towel.

How to Shorten the Time It Takes for a Tattoo to Heal

Failure to follow the necessary aftercare measures might cause your tattoo to heal slowly.

As a result, it’s critical to follow your tattooist’s aftercare advice, which will assist prevent issues and shorten the time it takes for the tattooed skin to recover.

After the tattoo artist is finished, they will apply a thin layer of ointment and plastic wrap to your tattoo. They will offer you aftercare instructions, and it will be up to you to follow them.

Here are a few tips to assist you in speeding up the healing process for your new tattoo:

  1. Before removing the plastic wrap, wash your hands.
  2. Use lukewarm water to clean the area.
  3. Use a mild, unscented soap.
  4. To protect your skin from drying out, apply a light moisturizer (your tattoo artist might be able to recommend one)
  5. Stay away from baths and swimming pools to prevent soaking your tatted flesh in unclean water.
  6. Avoid exposing the tattooed region to the sun.
  7. Avoid scratching or peeling at the scabs and skin flakes during the healing process.
  8. Maintain proper hydration for maximum skin health and renewal.

By following these aftercare guidelines, you will be able to sleep well knowing that your piece of art is healing properly and will soon be ready for display.

What Are the Symptoms of Tattoo Infection? (And How Can You Avoid It?)

It is typical to experience skin redness and soreness immediately following a tattoo. Because the skin is inflamed and damaged, it will react to such therapy with burning, sensitivity, redness, and so on.

However, if such skin changes persist after a week or two and the symptoms do not improve, we are dealing with an infection. As a result, the most typical symptoms of a tattoo infection are as follows:

  • Redness — long-lasting redness that lasts more than a week
  • Swelling — swollen and puffy skin days after receiving a tattoo, particularly around the tattoo (may indicate an allergic reaction to the ink)
  • Burning feeling – the tattooed region feels extremely heated, almost as though it is burning or feverish.
  • Tenderness — even a week after having a tattoo, the inked region remains tender and uncomfortable to touch.
  • A foul odor – indicates that the tattoo is infected, and you should seek medical assistance.
  • Pus or leaking – if the tattoo continues to ooze after two or three days, it is most likely infected.
  • Itching and hives – Itching and hives may suggest that you are allergic to ink in some situations, so see your doctor.
  • Scarring – scars form when a tattoo begins scabbing and does not heal correctly due to an allergic response or infection.
  • Fever or chills – In this scenario, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible since fever and chills signal that the tattoo is contaminated.

If any of these symptoms persist after a week, consult your tattoo artist, doctor, and dermatologist. They must be able to give accurate information as well as therapy recommendations.

If you’re wondering how to avoid getting a tattoo infection, you should know that it begins when you pick a tattoo shop and sit down to receive the tattoo.

What we mean is that you should pay attention to your tattoo artist’s cleanliness procedures. For instance, are they using sanitized equipment and gloves, have they cleansed their hands, and so on?

Don’t be scared to request that your tattoo artist disinfect the equipment before you and use a new needle. Dirty, outdated, and unsterile equipment (particularly needles) can transmit infections such as tetanus, HIV, and hepatitis.

Also, when the tattoo has been completed, avoid touching it without first cleaning your hands. Doing so can prevent bacteria from moving from your fingers to the tattoo and causing illness.

Is it possible to get a new tattoo while the old one heals?

Getting a new tattoo while recuperating from a previous one might be difficult. We’re not going to get into the financial aspects of this, but rather the difficulty of having two tattoos heal simultaneously.

Now, to properly cure a tattoo, the body must battle many diseases and maintain everything healthy. On the other hand, getting a new tattoo in the middle of the healing phase might overload the body and hence extend the healing process of both tattoos.

So, instead of waiting a few weeks for a tattoo to heal, you’ll have to wait a few months for both tattoos to cure completely. The post-workout care and general body preparation via hydration, diet, and metabolism boost.

So, technically, you may get a new tattoo while the old one is healing, but you should be aware of the issues and length of time this may add to the entire healing process.

If you can, wait one or two months before getting a new tattoo, as the previous one may have healed, at least on the surface. This will provide you some leeway with your aftercare regimen and, of course, your finances.


Tattoo culture has gotten a lot of attention from the younger generation, who think it’s ‘cool’ to have a tattoo. However, aftercare is required for a healthy tattoo. Any slightest blunder or neglect may result in unwelcome consequences.

Consult with a skin doctor about the procedure. If you don’t want to deal with such complications or are getting a tattoo for the first time, flaunt your new tattoo. The procedure is quite uncomfortable, but it will result in the most exquisite work of art linked to your body.


Editorial Staff

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