Head Tattoo Aftercare Guide: Cleaning, Healing & Infection Signs

Head Tattoo Aftercare

Can I prevent my new head tattoo from getting infected and fading? Yes, by following proper aftercare instructions during the healing period such as gentle cleaning, using fragrance-free moisturizer, avoiding sun exposure, and watching closely for signs of infection.

Caring for a new tattoo behind your ear, on your scalp, or anywhere else on your head comes with its own unique challenges compared to other parts of your body. The skin on your head tends to heal differently than areas like your arms or back. Head tattoos also endure more abrasion from hair, hats, bedding, and styling products.

By understanding what to expect during the head tattoo healing timeline and sticking diligently to essential aftercare do’s and don’ts, you can give your new head ink the best chance at healing smoothly. Keep reading to learn about:

  • Head tattoo healing stages and what to expect
  • Vital cleaning instructions and aftercare steps
  • Early signs of infection and what to watch for
  • Tips to prevent head tattoo complications
  • Frequently asked aftercare questions

What to Expect During Head Tattoo Healing Stages

Healing a new tattoo on your head takes between 4-6 weeks on average, sometimes longer. Head tattoos tend to take longer to heal compared to placements on fleshier body parts that see less friction and abrasion. Here’s what to expect during the healing stages:

Early Stage (Days 1-6): The tattoo area will be swollen, sore, and possibly oozing plasma and excess ink during the first week. Small scabs will begin to form. Keep the area clean and don’t pick scabs. Apply a very thin layer of fragrance-free moisturizer.

Middle Stage (Days 7-20): Scabs will become thicker. Resist picking them! Let them naturally flake off as the underlying skin regenerates. Keep gently washing and moisturizing the area 2-3 times daily. Some fading can occur.

Late Stage (Weeks 3-6): Flaking will gradually finish up and your head tattoo will reveal vibrant colors beneath. The sheen may seem especially glossy. As the final layer of new skin grows over the tattoo, you may experience some light peeling and itching.

Step-By-Step Head Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Caring for your new head ink properly is all about keeping the area gently cleansed and lightly moisturized so the tattoo can heal smoothly. Here are the key steps:

1. Wash tattoo area 2-3 times per day. Gently cleanse around your head tattoo using a mild, fragrance-free liquid soap and your hands. Rinse thoroughly with warm water, removing all soap residue.

2. Gently pat dry with a clean paper towel. Be very gentle patting the area dry with disposable paper. Don’t rub the towel over your new tattoo.

3. Apply a rice-sized amount of fragrance-free moisturizer. Lightly lubricate the tattooed area to keep your skin from drying out and cracking. Too little or too much moisturizer can cause problems.

4. Allow your new head tattoo to air dry 15 minutes after cleansing. Don’t re-bandage your new ink once the initial bandage is removed by your artist. Letting your tattoo breathe is important.

Follow these aftercare steps during the entire healing period for the best results. It may seem tedious, but skipping cleanings allows bacteria, fluids, and plasma to build up and raises infection risk.

Early Signs of Infection & What To Watch For

Despite your best aftercare efforts, there’s always a slight chance your new head tattoo may develop an infection. Seek medical care promptly if you notice any of the following persistent symptoms:

  • Redness and swelling spreading several inches past your tattoo site
  • Pus or foul-smelling discharge oozing from the tattoo
  • A fever of 101 F or higher
  • Flu-like symptoms lasting over 2 days

Infections allow bacteria inside the tattoo’s upper layers of skin to rapidly multiply. Left untreated, serious complications can develop. By recognizing early infection warning signs, you give your head tattoo the best chance of still healing well.

Tips To Prevent Head Tattoo Infection

You can minimize the risks of developing an infected head tattoo by:

Washing hands thoroughly before touching the tattoo – Avoid transferring bacteria onto the sensitive healing skin.

Not touching tattoo with dirty hands – Wait until after you can wash properly, such as after gardening or changing car oil.

Keeping tattoo dry and away from direct water – Don’t soak in bath or pool water, which harbor bacteria. Carefully shield tattoo in shower.

Not picking scabs or scratching itchy ink – This can pull out color and introduce infection internally. Be patient and let scabs shed naturally.

Frequently Asked Head Tattoo Aftercare Questions

Still have some lingering questions about keeping your new head art healthy? Here are answers to some commonly asked queries:

Can I use regular shampoo and conditioner on my new head tattoo?

You’ll want to avoid harsh chemicals found in many hair care products until healing finishes up. The fragrances, alcohols, and sulfates can severely irritate and dry out fresh tattoos.

After the first two weeks, try using a tiny amount of gentle, fragrance-free shampoo only on hair at least 4 inches away from your head tattoo, rinsing very thoroughly. Any product getting on the actual tattoo should be fragrance and additive-free.

How long should I wait until sleeping on my new head tattoo?

Try to sleep with your new tattoo facing up or protected for the first 2-3 weeks. Place clean gauze or a bandage over it to prevent rubbing on bed linens. If you can’t avoid sleeping on it, make sure to gently cleanse the area and apply healing ointment after waking.

When can I expose my new head tattoo to sun again?

Avoid direct sun exposure for about 4 weeks after getting new head ink. The sun’s UV rays can interfere with your skin’s regeneration, cause scabbing issues, and fade colors.

After healing, always apply broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every 2 hours. Once faded from sun damage, tattoo colors cannot be restored.

Take Proper Tattoo Aftercare Seriously

As you can see, properly caring for a new head tattoo is incredibly important work! Skipping just one cleansing or picking one tiny scab can introduce bacteria, lead to a troublesome infection, and cause poor healing. Stick diligently to all doctor-recommended aftercare and be patient through the healing stages.

With concerted effort on your part over the first month, your new head tattoo will thank you by healing vibrantly and remaining an incredible work of art you can enjoy for decades.

One useful tip: Consider getting a travel-size bottle of scent-free moisturizer just for tattoo aftercare. Carry it with you to make cleansings easier when away from home. Reapply as needed anytime your head tattoo feels dry or tight.

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