Tattoos have always been very popular. With short sleeves being a great way to beat the heat this summer, the idea of getting a tattoo may come to mind. But summer may not be the ideal time for a new tattoo. At the very least, extra care will be needed to preserve the beauty of your new tattoo.
Sun and tattoos: A bad combination
As everyone knows, the sun's UV rays can harm the skin. After a tattoo, the skin is damaged. It will be more sensitive to environmental aggressions, such as the sun's rays. For 3 months after a tattoo, we recommend avoiding direct exposure to the sun as it makes your skin more vulnerable to scars and burns. Material protection is ideal for achieving this; you can use a tightly woven garment or a waterproof bandage. Sunscreen is good for the skin but should only be used on newly tattooed skin when necessary. Sunscreen could discolour your tattoo, which is definitely not what you want.
Getting a tattoo just before a trip to the sun is not a good idea. It's better to wait until you get back.
Once your skin has healed, i.e. after 3 months, tattooed skin can be treated like the rest of the body's skin. Apply a fairly high SPF sunscreen (50 and over) and re-apply regularly every 2 hours.
What should you do if you get a sunburn on a tattoo?
Healing skin is more susceptible to infection. It's best to consult a healthcare professional and watch out for any signs of infection: redness, heat, or pain.
Sunburn on healed tattooed skin is treated in the same way as a sunburn on untattooed skin. First, take a lukewarm shower and moisturize the skin with a hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturizer. You can also take painkillers; ask your pharmacist for advice. It's also important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you have water blisters, don't pierce them. Don't pull your skin off the dead skin if it is peeling. Moisturize and let time do its work.
Of course, protect yourself from the sun moving forward!
What about swimming?
Like the sun, swimming is not ideal with recent tattoos. The risk of infection increases, and chlorine can cause tattoo discoloration. Saltwater isn't recommended either, as the salt dries out the skin and can slow the healing process. So, it's best to avoid swimming with a healing tattoo, whether in a pool or the ocean.
How do you know when your skin has healed?
Time is normally a good indicator. As mentioned earlier, the healing time is around 3 months but could be slightly longer for larger tattoos. Of course, there is also individual variability. We don't all heal at the same speed.
You can also rely on the appearance of the skin to recognize the progress of scarring. Healing is probably complete when the skin is no longer crusted and peeling.
What are the possible risks?
Several complications have already been mentioned. Here are the possible risks of exposing a new tattoo to the sun or chlorinated/saltwater:
- Hyperpigmentation: Darker spots can appear on your skin and take months or even years to disappear.
- Discolouration: The tattoo fades prematurely and loses its hues.
- A change in the shades or contours of the design: The whole beauty of your tattoo may be compromised.
- Infection: Your skin is more susceptible to infection.
As you can see, it's best to wait until after your vacation before adding a new tattoo. If you have an appointment this summer, take the necessary precautions to ensure your tattoo stays beautiful for a long time.