Should I Wrap My Tattoo Before Bed?
Last Updated on May 7, 2021
written by tattoo artist Steven Martin
Should I Wrap My Tattoo Before Bed?
Getting your first tattoo can be an exciting experience, but for someone that’s never had a tattoo before, the aftercare can be quite daunting! Should I wrap? Should I not wrap?
It’s an ongoing debate amongst many tattoo artists.
Like any art, there are many opinions and recommendations on the aftercare between artist and artist, and whether or not you should wrap your tattoo before bed is one of the most discussed topics.
When getting a tattoo, it is equally important to protect your tattoo and allow it time to breathe. Protecting your new tattoo by wrapping is recommended for the first few nights, but only if recommended by the tattoo artist who did your tattoo.
Wrapping is brilliant for protecting a fresh tattoo at the very start of the healing process. Wrap healing helps protect your tattoo from bacteria and infection but is not recommended to be worn all the time.
Here’s a tip: If you’ve been recommended to wrap your tattoo at night by your tattoo artist, they know what is best for you; sleeping in a position that won’t put pressure on your new tattoo also helps too.
Let’s jump into the ongoing discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of wrapping your tattoo before bed.
Is Wrapping My Fresh Ink Necessary?
Wrapping your fresh ink before bed is a good idea, especially for the first few nights. This is because your skin barrier will be broken, and your skin is now exposed to bacterial infections.
The healing process is essential for tattoos, not only for keeping your tattoo healthy and for the outcome of the tattoo but also to protect your body from infections.
Having a good night’s sleep is more critical than many of us may think when injured, or in this case, getting a new tattoo. As we sleep, our body plays a vital part in healing; sleeping comfortably is important for the healing of a tattoo.
But sleeping comfortably isn’t always so easy because we worry about damaging our tattooed skin by changing our sleeping position during the night. Wrap healing is brilliant for the first few nights as it provides protection and peace of mind that your tattoo is secure.
Most tattoo artists would recommend sleeping with your tattoo wrapped for the first night at least, as this is when your skin is more fragile.
During the first 2 days, your tattoo will also ooze blood, plasma, and even ink (which is completely normal). Wrapping your fresh tattoo will also prevent the plasma, ink, and blood from staining your sheets too.
The plasma and blood fluids may make your skin feel itchy and may even stick to your sheets if the tattoo is not covered– ouch! Tattoo wrapping will prevent this from happening.
But although keeping your tattoo wrapped is a brilliant way to heal your tattoo and protect it at night, I wouldn’t recommend keeping it wrapped 24/7 because moisture can build up, and your tattoo doesn’t get enough oxygen to promote scabbing.
Usually, your tattoo artist will give you a surgical tattoo wrap with small little holes to prevent this moisture build-up and allow the tattoo to get enough oxygen. But still, I wouldn’t recommend wrapping for more than a few days.
I would never recommend wrapping your own tattoo as it is quite easy to get it wrong.
Getting it wrong may accidentally trap bacteria and germs in the wrap; this can cause the open wound to become infected. The wrapping will heal up and produce sweat underneath– a breeding ground for bacteria!
When it comes to whether or not to keep your tattoo covered in a plastic wrap, many opinions and aftercare methods come into play; unless recommended otherwise by your artist, I would only recommend wrapping for the first night.
For the first night, I would recommend wrapping your new tattoo and keeping the plastic wrap given by your artist, but after the first night, I wouldn’t recommend continuing to wrap your tattoos.
Why Do People Wrap Their New Tattoos?
Wrapping tattoos for the first night of two has been part of the aftercare process for longer than I can remember, but it has changed over the years massively.
You may be asking yourself, why do people wrap their tattoos before bed? Or should I wrap my tattoo before bed? Here are the top reasons people wrap their new tattoos for the first few nights:
Controls leaking blood or plasma:
Since your tattoo is essentially an open wound, it will bleed and ooze plasma for the first few days of healing while the tattoo and skin are raw. This is the top reason why people wear a bandage wrap.
Using a bandage wrap will help prevent this from leaking and prevent bacteria from touching the fresh wound as a result of changing sleeping position and aggravating the healing process.
It also prevents the area from leaking fluids which could stain your bed sheets or clothing.
Controls leaking ink:
Any new tattoo is bound to leak an amount of ink from the area. You may notice that it is leaking and panic, wondering whether you’ve done something wrong, but there is no need to panic; this is normal.
The amount of ink leaked can vary from person to person and depend on the area of the tattoo and other factors, but the ink can stain clothing, bed sheets, towels, etc.
Many people use a bandage wrap for the first few nights and during the day while the ink is leaking, preventing the leak from staining and ruining belongings.
Your body is essentially healing from an open wound, especially in the early stages of tattoo healing; your tattoo is most prone to becoming infected.
This is also why people use a bandage wrap at night to provide an extra barrier between your healing skin and the environment. It is similarly beneficial to using a bandaid on a cut.
How To Wrap Your Tattoo Before Sleeping: Step By Step:
I wouldn’t recommend wrapping your fresh tattoo for longer than a couple of nights and only if recommended by your artist, but if you have been recommended to cover your tattoo, here’s how:
Step One: Bandage Wrap:
Your artist will most likely do this step for you; they will disinfect the area with tattoo-friendly soap and cover the skin with a breathable plastic wrap.
Most tattoo artists recommend keeping this tattoo bandage on for around 5-6 hours and no more than 24 hours to prevent infections. If you decide after that, you’d like to continue to wrap for a couple of nights further, then make sure you disinfect and use a breathable plastic wrap.
Step Two: Removing the bandage wrap:
When the 5 hours is up or if you’ve worn the bandage wrap overnight, make sure you take off the bandage carefully and slowly.
The plastic wrap will most likely be stuck to your skin due to the oozing plasma; if this happens, then apply lukewarm water to the area and slowly pull away.
Ensure that the water is sterilized by boiling the water first and allowing it to cool to a lukewarm temperature; this will prevent infection.
Step Three: Wash your tattoo:
Once you’ve removed the saran wrap or breathable wrapping which your artist provided, then wash your tattoo with the sterilized water with gentle fragrance-free, alcohol-free antibacterial soap.
Gently remove as much dried blood as possible and gently clean the wound as new tattoos are very sore. This will also remove the shine that has formed on the new tattoos.
Step Four: Dry the skin:
Once you’ve cleaned and cleaned off all of the dried blood and gunk oozing from the skin, then allow your tattoo to air dry for around 15 minutes. This will allow oxygen to get to the wound and encourage it to scab.
After 15 minutes, gently blot dry with a paper towel or a clean and gentle cloth. Towels and rough cloths will aggravate the skin; plus, if they’re not clean, they’ll transfer bacteria to your skin which will grow when wrapping your tattoo up again.
You must ensure the area is completely dry before rewrapping, as tattoo wraps get warm. If there’s excessive moisture, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Step Five: Cover your tattoo:
Once your tattoo is all freshly cleaned and dried, then you can keep your tattoo wrapped in a new plastic film for the next night. Make sure you take care in this process to prevent aggravating the healing process.
While wrapped, I would recommend applying some healing ointment lotion or a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer. Using a tattoo ointment is a brilliant form of tattoo aftercare.
But how do you know when to stop wrapping a tattoo at night?
You should repeat this process by removing the wrap when you wake up, washing the tattoo, and leaving it to dry for up to three nights.
Check out my guide as to how to care for your new tattoo.
During the day, I would recommend not to keep your tattoo wrapped and to wear clothing that is gentle on your tattoo. Your tattoo needs to breathe to heal and to prevent infection.
Try and get a good night’s sleep; while we rest, our immune system works to heal our bodies and, hence, our tattoos. Getting enough sleep will allow your tattoo to heal faster too.
Oh, and remember only to keep your tattoo wrapped for the first few nights; although it is brilliant tattoo aftercare while the wound is fresh and raw, it can cause infection if left on for too long.
Enjoy your fresh ink!