Tattoo Bandaging Summary

1.    After tattooing, clean whole area with green soap and white paper towel.
2.    Spray it with alcohol and hold a paper towel on it.
3.    Apply film of Bacitracin ointment.
4.    Cover with bandage of Handi-Wrap and securely tape it on.

General Healing Instructions
1.    Bandage should stay on for at least two hours.
2.    Remove bandage, rinse gently with cold water and blot dry.
3.    Apply Bacitracin ointment four times a day and blot out the excess.
4.    Keep tattoo fresh and open to the air. Do not bandage.
5.    For the first week, avoid swimming or long soaking in water.
6.    For the first month, avoid too much exposure to the sun.
7.    Do not pick or scratch scabs.
8.    Itching is relieved by slapping or alcohol.
9.    Keep tattoo covered with clean loose clothing.

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Advices for taking care of the tatttoos

Do not pick any scabs, no matter how tempting. Let them fall off naturally. Even if it is just hanging there, do not touch it. The part that is not hanging there is still healing and if picked, it will bleed, making a faded spot that will stand out. They have got to take it easy on a fresh tattoo.
New tattoos itch while they are healing. Hitting the tattoo with a quick slap will usually stop the itching. Sometimes wiping it with a little rubbing alcohol will relieve it.

It must be explained that a new tattoo will look flaky and gross looking for the first week. After the scab falls off, there is going to be a white scaly layer on top of the tattoo. This is dead skin and it will peel off in a couple of days. Sometimes by rubbing a little Vitamin E on it, will improve its looks.
Sunlight is not too great for a tattoo and exposure should be avoided for a few months, if possible. You want the color in it to remain bright and sunlight will bleach it out. Black tattoos are all right in the sun, but colored ones are a little more touchy and need to be babied. A high number sunscreen may help, but some lotions containing PABA may aggravate the tattoo. Color tattoos must settle in, and the sun just helps to age them very quickly.

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The Customer and the Fresh Tattoo

The customer should remove the bandage in about two hours and rinse it in cold water to remove whatever blood there is and gently blot it dry. Two hours is about the average time it takes for blood to start clotting and scabbing. If it has not clotted by that time, the cold water will close up the pores in the skin and hold the rest of the ink in. It is the cleaning process while it is healing that makes a tattoo look nice and sharp. Tell them to rinse it off with their hands. A washcloth or towel could really feel rough and it might start it to bleed, which you do not want to happen. It should then be blotted dry with a clean paper towel. No wiping or scrubbing, just blotting. The towel should be a white one, unscented and have no designs on it. Some people are allergic to the scent and dye in the towels. They should use the smooth side of the paper towel to keep from irritating it as little as possible. Fresh tattoos are very sensitive. When it is rinsed off, apply a little Bacitracin to keep it from drying out too much. (If it is a black tattoo, a little rub of alcohol on it first, before the ointment, will keep it clean and sharp. Black tattoos heal faster than colored ones.) The ointment should then be blotted dry after a fifteen minute wait. Again, use the smooth side of a white unscented paper towel. The tattoo will absorb as much ointment as it needs in that amount of time. If they don’t blot it dry, the excess ointment will collect unwanted bacteria. Blotting up a tattoo means blotting it dry to the touch. If you feel your hand over it and it slides across, there is too much ointment on it. If it is rough or crusty, the ointment was not on long enough.
Don’t keep it covered with a bandage. A tattoo is on the skin and it must be exposed to air to breathe, which speeds up healing. The only exception is when straps or certain articles of clothing rub against it. Tight clothing should be avoided and clean loose fitting clothes should be worn until the tattoo heals.
The ointment and blotting treatments are to be applied four times a day. Make sure that this is understood. As a tattoo heals, it feels smooth and velvety. A tattoo has healed when a scab falls off by itself. A black tattoo heals in about four days and a colored one takes about a full week.
Water is the worst thing for a healing tattoo to be exposed to. When in the shower, the customer should cover it up with a good layer of ointment. This will act as a protective barrier. Don’t get water on it until the scab falls off. Try not to put it directly under the water and work around it. When a scab gets too soaked with water, it swells up and peels off too early, messing things up. Drill these procedures into the customer. It only takes a few days of good care and they will get a great looking tattoo, if done right. When not done right, it will look faded, weak and not very bright. It will be worth it to them to take good care of it, because they are going to have the tattoo for the rest of their life.

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Different materials as tattoo bandage coverings.

Many people use different materials as bandage coverings. Some use a non-stick bandage like a Telfa-pad or Release, (a non-stick dressing). For larger work, a Pamper makes a great covering. They don’t dry into a tattoo and at the same time, provide a padded cushion. You can even halve or quarter them for smaller pieces and secure with Dermalite tape.

The most popular covering though, is Handi-Wrap. The reason for this is that people who have just received a tattoo want to show it off. If they can’t see through the covering, they are going to open up the bandage so they can sneak a peek. Then the bandage gets handled too much and becomes dirty. Handi-Wrap is ideal because some other brands are a little too sticky to work with.
The trouble with using gauze is that in a couple of hours when the customer begins to remove their bandage, the cloth sticks to the clotting scab. When they pull it off, it starts the tattoo to bleed all over again and they have an unwanted mess. It will also pull out more ink and weaken the tattoo design. Handi-Wrap is great in that it just slides off the tattoo with no hang-ups.
As soon as you are done wiping the tattoo clean and have wiped a big enough area for the tape to stick, and you’ve just covered the tattoo with some Bacitracin, take the Handi-Wrap and carefully pull out a nice strip and throw it away (This step is to make sure you have a clean piece.) Tear out another strip big enough to cover-up the entire tattoo with, about one inch extra on all sides. Tape it securely with Dermalite tape (a hypoallergenic paper tape that sticks great to skin, but can be taken off without too much pain).

When all this is done, the customer is ready to go home. If it bleeds a little on the way, tell them that this is all right and to keep it wiped up and clean until the bandage comes off.

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Bandages for tattoos

After finishing a tattoo, it is your responsibility to prevent it from getting infected, at least during the first few hours until the body can close up all the holes that were just put into it. While tattooing, you have plenty of time to talk to the customer about after care and how they ought to treat the tattoo. Later, you can give them a care sheet to take home with them. A big poster outlining the healing process and the care of a new tattoo, located near the work chair, also acts as a double reminder. This is a very important step because how good a tattoo looks afterwards depends upon the healing, and it can either make or break you.
Right after finishing, you should clean the whole tattoo area with a green soap spray and a paper towel. Next, spray alcohol directly on that tattoo and place a paper towel right over it. (The towel is now totally absorbed with the alcohol.) Apply pressure on the towel with your hand and hold it on there for a few seconds before you wipe it off. (A word of warning here: This procedure really smarts, so you might want to hold the customer down with your free hand while you are wiping with the alcohol.) As you are wiping, clean an area a little larger than the actual tattoo, which will make a clean space for tape to stick onto later.
The next step is to apply a nice thin even coat of Bacitracin on the cleaned tattoo with a tongue depressor. Do not use Vaseline on a fresh tattoo. Bacitracin ointment should be used. A fresh tattoo will have a fever under it and feel hot to the touch. Cold water several times a day the first two days will take care of this. Explain this to customers and advise them to use Bacitracin after showering.
Some people use Bacitracin (a triple antibiotic ointment) on a fresh tattoo. You should know though, that certain customers may have a bad allergic reaction to the antibiotic in Bacitracin. Since you have no way of knowing who does or who doesn’t, you should be careful with its use. Antibiotics should be avoided as preventatives. If you have a clean shop and use sterile equipment, there is no reason why any tattoo should become infected. When an infection does take place (if ever), it is usually because of the customer’s neglect of instructions to properly care for it. They should not use antibiotics on their own. Instead, they should see a medical doctor who will prescribe one for them.

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