How Long After A Tattoo Can You Not Swim?
Last Updated on May 7, 2021
written by tattoo artist Steven Martin
How Long After A Tattoo Can You Not Swim?
After getting a new tattoo, most of us cannot wait to show that bad boy off, especially in a swimsuit. But sadly, water and tattoos aren’t friends during the healing process.
But how long after getting a tattoo do you need to wait to swim?
Swimming at the beach, in a pool, chilling in hot tubs, and even taking a bath are completely off-limits for the first month or so after getting a tattoo–you may need to wait to show off your fresh ink.
Well, to begin with, it is an open wound, and it needs to be looked after and cared for like any other cut or wound you would get.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about how long you need to wait to show off your new tattoo down the beach or around the pool and why you shouldn’t go in the water for the first month.
Why Can’t You Get My New Tattoo Wet & Why Can’t You Swim After Getting A New Tattoo?
Any tattoo artist will tell you not to get your tattoo wet, go in any swimming pools, go into the ocean water and avoid getting the tattoo wet for the first four weeks– until your tattoo is fully healed.
Now while there’s nothing wrong with getting your tattoo slightly wet, such as accidentally spraying your tattoo in the shower but drenching your tattoo in unclean water is a no-go.
Keeping your new tattoo clean is crucial in the healing process; you should only get your tattoo wet during cleaning with sterile water; this prevents tattoo infections.
A quick standing shower is unlikely to damage your tattoo (as long as you clean your tattoo after). Still, diving into a public swimming pool for an hour or two will most likely damage the healing process and may cause a risk of infection– not to mention the bacteria in a public swimming pool, gross!
A public pool is likely to be filled with chlorine too, this can badly irritate an open wound massively, and the same goes for a new tattoo. Nasty bacteria also surround you from kids peeing in the pool and by different bodies being in the pool itself.
Going swimming in a public pool massively increases the risk of infection of the open wound, plus chlorine is a harsh chemical that doesn’t help matters either.
But the infection isn’t your only issue if your submerge your tattoo in water for long durations, the prolonged exposure to the water risks diluting the ink in your new tattoo, and the risk of fading reduces the sharpness and vibrancy of the tattoo after the tattoo is healed.
But What About Swimming In The Ocean?
Despite the ocean water being salt water, which can help when it comes to healing a wound. Open water can contain various kinds of bacteria; this bacteria then enter your body through the open wound, which can cause infections and even health problems.
There are millions of different types of infections in the sea, plus most sewage waste is disposed in the sea (plus trash too) all this, and there’s nothing to clean the sea, meaning it is even worse than going in a pool because at least some of the bacteria are killed by the chlorine!
Salt water can help some wounds, but it is the worst thing you can apply to your tattoo; it can increase the healing time, not to mention the pain ss your skin hits that water– ouch.
Infected tattoos can actually be quite dangerous, and if not treated, they can put a toll on your immune system, which can be quite fatal, especially if these infections spread into your bloodstream.
There have been cases where people have died due to swimming in the ocean too soon after getting a tattoo–scary stuff!
What About Hot Tubs?
Hot tubs are just as bad if not worse than swimming pools, especially if they’re not chlorinated. Warm hot tubs are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, and even if the bacteria is low, you’re likely to get an infection in your new tattoo.
If the pool is highly chlorinated, the risk of infection is lower, but that will still cause major aggravation to your tattoo. It can cause peeling or red itchy bumps on your tattoo, which, if it doesn’t lead to infection it can lead to some horrible scarring.
If you think about it, you’re essentially sharing dirty bathwater with hundreds of people; who knows, the last time the hot tub was cleaned??
Can I Take a Bath?
Absolutely not; this is tattoo aftercare 101! Bathing your new tattoo in your own germs and dirty bath water can cause infection. Despite the germs coming from your body, they can still be detrimental!
Bathing your tattoo in water for long periods of time can also flood your healing tattoo; this can cause the ink to drain and leak out, which can cause your tattoo to fade or even look patchy.
Let’s be on the safe side and avoid submerging your body art in water for at least the first month– all tattoo artists will tell you this too.
Can I Take a Shower?
Yes, taking a short 5-minute shower is absolutely fine–we need to clean. After all, we can’t be unclean and horrible for a whole month!
Just when taking a shower, make sure you aren’t directing the water onto your tattoo, try to avoid getting too much water on your tattoo, and make sure you dry the area carefully– even clean the tattoo as you would in your aftercare after having a shower to be on the safe side.
You can even cover your tattoo with waterproof bandages or plastic wrap or even keeping it out of the tattoo out of the direct stream of water. It can be difficult to avoid moisture completely, but with the right aftercare, you should be fine!
What about workouts?
Now I know that it can be almost impossible not to get sweaty; we are only human. But for the first 4 weeks, I would stick to exercise that won’t get you super sweaty.
Sweat carries germs, after all; for some workouts, maybe wrap your tattoo in cling film or a waterproof bandage to at least provide a barrier.
Remember to clean your fresh ink after every workout to be on the safe side.
How long should I wait to go swimming after getting a tattoo?
As a general rule of thumb, you shouldn’t get your tattoo wet (except while cleaning the tattoo) for at least the first 4 weeks after getting the tattoo or until your tattoo has fully healed.
Any artist will tell you this as submerging a tattoo can detriment the healing processes and badly damage the tattoo.
Your immune system has already been put under a fair amount of pressure after getting the tattoo, so reducing the chance of infection by not swimming is recommended.
If you have a weak immune system, you should wait even longer until your tattoo artist gives you the go-ahead; your health should always come first.
The top signs that your tattoo has fully healed should when it stops flaking or peeling; all scabs have fallen off and healed.
Signs to look out for as a sign of infection: increased pain, swelling, redness, and little bumps on the tattoo if your tattoo is oozing pus and you have a fever or chills.
If you have experienced any of these, then see your doctor straight away. DON’T waits around, most infections can be cleared up with antibiotics, but if left alone, they can be fatal.
All you need to remember is to keep your tattoos clean and out of water for at least the first 4 weeks. This will help aid your skin and body through the healing process massively.
Once you’ve noticed the skin has fully healed, then you can go wild and get back to the things you love! Swim along the Gulf of Mexico, dive into your local pool, and show off your fresh ink to all your friends.
Stay safe, guys!