Taking care of body art
It is important that you listen to and carefully follow the after care advice that your body artist will give you. This will ensure your body art looks as good as possible, and will also minimise potential health risks.
If you start experiencing problems with your body art, go back to your body artist or see your GP.
After the procedure
- Pick or scratch at a new tattoo, as this will slow the healing time and may lead to other infections.
- Soak a tattoo in water or other solutions. If the tattoo is waterlogged it will take longer to heal. If you are in frequent contact with water, use a barrier cream over the site until it has healed.
- Swim until your tattoo has healed.
- Over-use healing creams. Only apply the cream when the skin feels as if it is drying out.
- Wear loose clothing over the tattoo, or clothing washed in soft detergents.
- Only touch your new tattoo with clean hands and do not let others touch it until it is healed.
- Apply sunblock (SPF 15 to 30+) to prevent your tattoo fading.
- Use the creams recommended by the studio to help the healing process.
- Share jewellery with friends, even if your piercing has healed
- Have sex for at least 1 week after a genital piercing. Check with your body artist as some genital piercings take longer to heal.
- Wash your hands well before touching your new piercing. That goes for other people touching the piercing too.
- Use an antibacterial cleaning solution recommended by your body artist. Avoid alcohol-based solutions as these dry out the skin.
- Only use sterile jewellery made of materials recommended by the operator.
- Keep your piercing away from other people’s body fluids until it is completely healed. For oral and tongue piercings, avoid kissing and oral sex during the healing period.
- Be aware that you may experience tissue rejection which means the piercing site may swell, the skin colour changes and the area becomes itchy.
- See a doctor if you notice infection. Do not wait until pus forms or jewellery cannot be removed.
Different body art procedures take different times to heal:
- eyebrow – 6 to 8 weeks
- ear lobes – 4 to 6 weeks
- ear cartilage – 6 to 8 weeks
- nose – 8 to 12 weeks
- lip or labret (a piercing below the bottom lip, above the chin) – 6 to 8 weeks
- nipple – 6 to 8 weeks
- navel – 4 to 6 weeks
- genital – 4 to 6 weeks
- deep genital – 3 to 6 months
- flesh tunnels – these can take 2 to 4 months or longer to heal depending on their size and location
- tattoos – 2 to 3 weeks
- branding – 3 to 6 weeks.
This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.