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.