Wrist Tattoo Aftercare: Guide for Caring for Your New Ink

Wrist Tattoo Aftercare

Getting a new wrist tattoo can be an exciting experience full of meaning. But properly caring for wrist tattoos requires diligence, especially since the wrist area sees a lot of movement and friction. Follow this complete wrist tattoo aftercare guide to ensure your new ink heals smoothly and beautifully.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the wrist tattoo healing process. You’ll learn essential aftercare instructions for cleansing, and moisturizing, what activities to avoid, signs of infection, and frequently asked aftercare questions. We’ll also outline the stages of the healing process so you know what to expect.

With proper care and by avoiding irritation, your new wrist tattoo should heal completely within 2-3 weeks.

How Long Does It Take For A Wrist Tattoo To Fully Heal?

On average, expect your new wrist tattoo to take 2-3 full weeks to completely heal [1]. However, your wrist tattoo will go through multiple stages during the healing period:

Days 1-2

These first days involve the most oozing of plasma and blood as your skin experiences trauma from the needle. Your wrist tattoo will be swollen, sore, and tender to the touch [2]. Proper aftercare involves gently cleaning it 1-2 times a day and avoiding picking at scabs or crusties as they form [3]. Keep the area moisturized with ointment.

Days 3-6

Your wrist tattoo will start peeling and become very itchy as the outer epidermis layer forms scabs over the tattoo. Resist scratching or it will pull out ink! Allow any scabs to naturally fall off during daily gentle cleansing. Keep moisturizing it [4].

Days 7-13

The scabs tighten and might crack slightly as new skin regenerates underneath. Clean your wrist tattoo 1-2 times daily and apply a hypoallergenic ointment to rehydrate the tattooed area [5]. Gently remove any loose scabs.

Days 14-20

The heavier scabs should be gone, revealing the color underneath. It will still appear slightly dull and hazy. Allow your skin to breathe at this point by stopping ointment [6]. Avoid picking at any lingering scabs during this phase.

Days 21-30

Your wrist tattoo should be fully healed, looking vibrant without any raw areas or scaling [7]. You can stop intensive moisturizing but avoid submerging it in water. Apply unscented lotion 1-2 times a day to avoid dryness and fading.

Essential Wrist Tattoo Aftercare Instructions

Caring for your new wrist tattoo properly during the first month of healing is crucial to prevent scarring, infections, and fading of the ink. Follow these best practices:

Keep It Clean

Gently cleanse your wrist tattoo 1-2 times per day using lukewarm water and a mild, fragrance-free soap [8]. Avoid harsh soaps or scrubbing. Rinse away all soap residue with water and pat dry using clean paper towels. Allow your skin to fully air dry.

Apply a Thin Layer of Moisturizing Ointment

After cleansing, apply a rice-sized amount of fragrance-free ointment like Aquaphor [9]. Gently massage it into the tattooed area to keep your skin hydrated, and pliable, and prevent scabs from forming [10]. Use minimal amounts of ointment as over-moisturizing can suffocate healing skin [11].

Let Scabs Naturally Fall Off

Picking or forcefully removing scabs before they are ready can pull out your ink [12]. Allow them to naturally flake away during your gentle daily cleansing routine. If any scabs feel loose, you can gently roll them off using a clean paper towel.

Wear Loose, Breathable Fabrics

Avoid tight clothing, watches, or jewelry that rubs against or sticks to your wrist tattoo during initial healing, as this irritates [13]. Allow the tattooed area to breathe as much as possible in loose, breathable fabrics.

Follow Your Artist’s Aftercare Advice

Always follow your tattoo artist’s specific aftercare instructions for your new wrist tattoo over any general advice [14]. Their recommendations will account for their tools, techniques, and your unique skin needs.

Signs of Infection & What To Do

Tattoo infections occur when bacteria enter the open wound during the healing process. Signs of infection often appear within the first 3-10 days. The most common signs include increasing swelling, redness, and warmth emanating from the tattoo [23]. Other symptoms are yellow or green pus draining from the tattoo, foul odor, fever over 101F, and red streaks spreading outward [24].

If you suspect your new wrist tattoo is infected, call your doctor right away. Trying to treat an infection at home can make it worse. Your doctor will examine your tattoo and may prescribe oral antibiotics or a topical antibiotic ointment if it appears infected [25]. Keep the infected area clean and don’t try to pop any blisters, as this can spread the infection. With prompt antibiotic treatment, tattoo infections can usually be cleared up within a week or two. Avoid getting the tattoo wet during treatment and follow all your doctor’s directions closely. Call your doctor immediately if the infection worsens or you develop flu-like symptoms.

When To Stop Aftercare

Knowing when to stop intensive tattoo aftercare is important to allow proper healing. Over-cleansing and moisturizing beyond what’s needed can hinder your tattoo’s healing and lead to scabbing, itching, and irritation. Signs that your new wrist tattoo is ready for you to stop rigorous aftercare include [26]:

  • No more peeling, flaking, or scabbing
  • The skin feels smooth, without any raw or weeping areas
  • The tattooed skin is level with the rest of your skin, not raised or bumpy
  • The colors look bold, crisp, and vivid without dull or missing spots
  • Your skin has adapted to the ink, so there is minimal itching or irritation

Generally, around 3 weeks is the typical healing timeframe for wrist tattoos to exhibit these traits [27]. At this point, you can stop intensive moisturizing and cut back to cleansing just 1-2 times per day using gentle soap and water. Apply fragrance-free lotion 1-2 times per day to maintain skin moisture and prevent fading. But if your tattoo still seems to be scabbing or oozing, continue diligent aftercare for another week until fully healed. It’s better to be patient and care for it a bit longer than to stop too soon before the skin has healed properly.

FAQs: Caring For Your New Wrist Tattoo

Can I shower with a new wrist tattoo?

Yes, you can shower as normal but avoid excessively hot water or long showers [19]. Gently cleanse your wrist tattoo 1-2 times daily. Avoid soaking it until completely healed.

When can I swim after getting my wrist tattooed?

Wait until it has fully healed around 3 weeks before swimming or soaking it [20]. Public pools can harbor bacteria. Chlorine also draws out plasma and fades ink.

Should I wrap my new wrist tattoo?

Wrapping is not necessary unless advised by your artist [21]. Keep the tattoo open to air during healing so it can breathe properly. Avoid using cling wrap that sticks.

Can I exercise right after getting my wrist tattooed?

Avoid intense wrist exercises like weight lifting, boxing, or tennis for 2 weeks [22]. Sweat and motion irritate fresh tattoos. Light walking and non-wrist exercises are fine during healing.


With proper cleansing, moisturizing, avoiding friction, and not soaking your wrist tattoo, it will heal beautifully within 2-3 weeks. Be patient as it goes through various healing stages. Signs of infection require prompt medical care.

By caring for your new wrist tattoo properly, you’ll ensure vivid, lasting results for years to come. Follow these tips and you’ll soon be rocking your new meaningful wrist ink!

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