On average, it takes a tattoo about 2-3 weeks to heal. While healing times may vary and there are many factors that can affect the healing process, your tattoo should look fully healed within a month.
Read on as we cover how long an average tattoo takes to scab, peel, and heal. We will also explain the differences in the healing process between big and small tattoos, and steps you can take to make your tattoo heal faster.
- 1 How Long Does A Tattoo Take To Heal?
- 2 Tattoo Healing Time
- 3 How To Make A Tattoo Heal Faster
- 4 How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Scab?
- 5 How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Peel?
- 6 Best Lotion For New Tattoo
- 7 Tattoo Healing
How Long Does A Tattoo Take To Heal?
While your tattoo will look completely healed in 3 weeks, the body and skin below the surface will continue to heal for up to 4 months. This will result in the complete healing of all layers of the tattooed skin. Until then, you’ll want to take extra good care and precautions around this area.
However, healing times depend on a number of factors. Specifically, your health, age, lifestyle, and quality of aftercare can make your new tattoo heal faster or slower. This is why it is so important to look after and care for your skin.
Another critical factor is the size of your tattoo and the amount of skin that needs to heal. While every tattoo goes through the same stages of recovery, small tattoo healing times are naturally shorter. You can expect a small tattoo to heal in 2 weeks.
On the other hand, a big tattoo can take 3 to 4 weeks to heal, and a medium-sized tattoo may require the full 2 to 3 weeks. Just remember that this is relative.
A full back tattoo and a full sleeve tattoo are both large pieces of ink, but naturally one covers much more skin than the the other. Similarly, ink on your hand versus wrist or inner forearm can differ in healing time because your hand is much more exposed and used, making it harder to protect.
Tattoo Healing Time
Here’s a basic overview of tattoo healing times, the stages of recovery, and what to expect during the process.
Stage One: Days 1-6
During the first week, you’ll experience oozing, swelling, and pain. Proper care requires keeping the tattooed skin clean to prevent infection and encourage scabbing. Scabs are the body’s way of closing open wounds and stopping bacteria. A few days after your tattoo starts to scab, you’ll notice peeling.
Stage Two: Days 7-14
During the second week, your tattoo will itch and flake. Tattoo itch is a result of dry skin irritation. Stop the itch by applying a tattoo lotion that will moisturize and soothe the skin.
As the scabbed areas heal, you’ll see your tattoo peel. A flaking tattoo may be annoying, but the peeling process indicates the tattooed skin is healing. Your tattoo will peel for 7 to 10 days.
Do not pull off loose skin or try to accelerate the peeling of flakes; you can accidentally open a wound and cause your tattoo to take longer to heal. In bad cases, you can even mess up your design.
Stage Three: Days 15-30
The tattoo will look fully healed, but may still appear scaly, shiny, or cloudy for a few weeks. During this time, deep layers of skin are still repairing themselves. This is not how your tattoo will look in the end.
Maintain a good aftercare routine, continue to gently rub tattoo cream on the skin, and avoid direct sun exposure.
Stage Four: Days 31+
With the tattoo completely healed and assuming there are no open sores or infections, it is safe to go swimming, take a bath, and generally enjoy an active lifestyle. You’ll still want to apply sunscreen when in the sunlight; this will stop your tattoo from fading.
How To Make A Tattoo Heal Faster
Ultimately, the fastest way to heal a tattoo is to exercise proper care. This means good personal hygiene, a healthy balanced diet with a multivitamin supplement, using the right products, and avoiding anything that may prolong your full recovery.
Here are a few tips to make your tattoo heal faster and generally reduce the healing time for your new body art:
- Always wash your hands before touching the tattooed skin.
- After removing the plastic wrap, clean the area with unscented anti-bacterial soap and warm water.
- Use a high-quality tattoo lotion with natural ingredients to keep your skin from drying out.
- Keep your skin hydrated and moisturized for optimal recovery.
- Do not scratch or peel off the scabs.
- Protect your skin from brushing up against clothing.
- Do not expose the tattooed skin to the sun.
- Do not take a bath, go swimming, or get in a hot tub to avoid an infection or bacteria while your skin is healing.
It is important to keep in mind that you can not speed up the tattoo healing process. Based on your age, health and immune system, your body will heal as fast as it can naturally. These steps will maximize your body’s recovery time, but poor care can drastically slow it down.
Although some people heal quickly, it is a fact that the older you get, the longer it takes for your body to heal. Moreover, if you have underlying medical issues, this can extend your timeline.
Finally, if your skin takes forever to heal or you regularly scar up with basic cuts and scrapes, consider these health conditions before getting a tattoo.
How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Scab?
In most cases, it takes a tattoo 3 to 4 days to start scabbing. The formation of scabs is a normal and crucial step in the healing process because scabbing creates a protective layer over the tattooed skin that prevents bacteria from entering the body. Tattoo scabs last for a week.
Eventually, your new tattoo’s scabs will fall off and expose freshly healed skin. Ultimately, you’ll know that your tattoo is healed when the scabs are gone and the design is clean.
Extreme or unhealthy tattoo scabbing can be an indication that your artist penetrated too deeply with the needle.
How Long Does It Take For A Tattoo To Peel?
It takes a tattoo 3 to 7 days to peel, and the peeling will last for 7 to 10 days. At the end of this time, your tattoo should stop peeling and will likely be completely healed.
Peeling is normal and is how your body creates a new healthy skin layer. You may experience intense itching and dry flaky skin during the peeling process.
Make sure to gently apply a moisturizing cream to relieve the itchiness, but absolutely do not peel off any scabs or flakes to avoid opening up wounds.
Best Lotion For New Tattoo
Applying a good tattoo aftercare product is an essential part of the healing process. The best lotion for new tattoos will keep your skin hydrated, moisturized, soft and smooth, thereby accelerating the recovery period. The final result is a cool tattoo design that looks shiny, clear, and defined.
We recommend starting with a thick cream or ointment for the first week. Once your skin starts scabbing and peeling, you can switch to a fragrance-free lotion. You’ll want to continue using this aftercare lotion for months to keep the new tattoo looking fresh and vibrant.
The best creams and lotions are made of natural organic ingredients and come unscented. Artificial fragrances are created with chemicals, and this can cause skin irritations on wounds. A fragrance-free or unscented lotion ensures you avoid an infection or breakout.
Here is the best lotion to use on a tattoo!
Hustle Butter Deluxe Tattoo Butter
Hustle Butter Deluxe makes the top-rated tattoo aftercare product on the market. Thick and creamy but spreads easily, it’s great for all stages of the tattoo healing process.
Made with natural organic ingredients and considered 100% vegan, this tattoo cream contains shea butter, mango butter, aloe butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, rice brain oils, rosemary oil, green tea extract, vitamin E, and mint essential oil.
Clinically-tested and certified as a skin care product, this lotion keeps your tattooed area moisturized while reducing redness, swelling, itchiness, and flakes for faster healing. Plus, it soothes irritated skin for quick relief.
Easy to use, won’t clog your pores, and works well even with sensitive skin, Hustle Butter Deluxe comes highly-recommend from tattoo artists around the world. If you’re looking for the best aftercare cream on the market, this product should be your go-to choice.
Although a tattoo can take some time to heal, with the average healing time at just 2 to 3 weeks, most men and women will agree the pain of the healing process has been worth it. If you’re considering your first tattoo and doing some research, check out the best tattoo ideas to find inspiration that may encourage you.