A tattoo basically is a light wound, mostly compared to a cat scratch. However, even only being a light wound there is the risk of it becoming infected if the right care isn't taken in keeping it clean.
Before you get your tattoo done your tattooist should take out two new needles (depending on if you are getting it filled with colour) if your tattooist does not do this, get up and leave immediately as you don't know if the needles he/she is using on you has been in someone else. If at any time during the process of getting your tattoo done you feel light headed dizzy or faint tell him/her immediately to stop because if you pass out whilst he/she is still drawing it could go horribly wrong. If at any point you do feel the above they will get you a cold fizzy drink to raise your blood sugar, this is to balance out the adrenaline that is surging.
Once completed your tattooist will cover your new tattoo with a protective cream and some form of clear film. They should not ever use kitchen roll as this is less hygienic and can pull ink out. After covering your tattoo they should go through cleaning procedures. It is vital to follow their advice because if you don't it may become infected. A lot of tattooists will recommend using savlon cream to protect your tattoo. However it doesn't assist with healing. Bepanthen (a nappy rash cream, can be found in most supermarkets or boots usually around the £2 range) is a more effective cream. It assists with the heal process, is not scented and suitable for sensitive skin which is what a tattoo becomes. It is recommended to keep your tattoo covered for 2-3 hours after it is done. After 3 hours you will need to remove the dressing and wash your tattoo with warm water a little bit of soap, do not rub hard. Make sure you get all the clear gunk (plasma) off as if any is left it may scab and pull ink out of your tattoo, leading to fading. Once washed pat dry gently, and reapply protective cream. Do not re cover your tattoo as this traps the moisture in which can lead to longer healing times and a higher chance of infection. It is a wound, and like any wound needs air to healh properly. You must clean your tattoo and apply the bepanthen regularly to prevent it from getting infected and forming a heavy scab. If a heavy scab does form it will very likely draw the ink out and you'll have wasted your money.
Questions regularly asked.
Q. What are the chances of my tattoo getting infected?
A. Very little if you take the right care and follow the information provided here and by your tattooist.
Q. Does a tattoo hurt?
A. Yes, it involves a needle penetrating the skin a lot of times a second, it all depends on your pain threshold on how much it will hurt.
Q. I took followed the care instructions given but some of the ink has faded/ my tattooist missed a small bit... what can I do?
A. If your tattoist has missed a small bit call him/her up or go back to the parlour and speak to them, most tattooists will repatch it once the rest of your tattoo has healed at no cost to yourself. If the right care was taken and ink still faded you will have to phone the tattooist up and ask about their procedure. Some may repatch it for free and some may charge you for it.
Q. I had a tattoo done but changed my mind... what can I do?
A. Tattoos are for life there is not much you can do about it, unless you have the money to get it surgically removed, this will cost a lot. However you can always get it altered at a cost but a tattooist.
Q. How long does it take for a tattoo to fully heal?
A. It can take as long as 2 weeks it all depends on the care you give it. Some tattoos heal in 3 days.
Q. How old do you have to be to get a tattoo?
A. Law states that persons under the age os 18 cannot get a tattoo. So you have to be minimum of 18.
Q. Can I go swimming whilst my tattoo is healing?
A. NO, the chlorine in the water will alter the pigments in the ink and can change the colour.
Q. Can I sunbathe?
A. It is not recommended until your tattoo is fully healed as the heat could cause it to itch.
Q. I regularly dye my hair, will this affect my tattoo?
A. No, however you will need to do a skin test with your dye incase the pigments have caused you to become allergic to the dye.