A tattoo is essentially an open wound, and your first temptation to reduce the swelling and pain might be to grab an ice pack. Though ice can be a part of the recovery process and may help ease your sensitivity to the skin injury, there are right and wrong ways to apply it.
Read on for our safety tips to ensure you don’t compromise the healing of your ink by icing it.
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Ice or cold compresses can significantly reduce swelling and inflammation, while also helping to slow down the bleeding of an abrasion. They restrict blood circulation which helps with bruising while simultaneously numbing the intensity of the pain.
Swelling is a normal part of the healing process of a new tattoo, but too much swelling can actually be an enemy of the healing process. Swelling is a sign of extra water build-up in the cells that prevent the wound from getting the oxygen it needs to heal properly. It makes sense to want to grab the nearest cold compress to reduce this issue, which can also come with extra sensitivity and pain.
On the other hand, homemade cold compresses with ice from the freezer may contain numerous bacteria that could compromise the healing of our tattoo. In addition, applying it directly to the surface of our skin may rip off essential scabbing that begins right after our first wash.
So how do we ice our tattoo safely?
If you wish to apply a cold compress or ice to a new tattoo to reduce the swelling, here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
If you don’t have an instant-ice first aid compress or other cold compresses available, you can make your own which will be safe for your new tattoo.
Keeping your tattoo elevated also helps reduce swelling.
Your first week of aftercare for a new tattoo is essentially what will set your tattoo up for optimal healing. There are aftercare steps that will help reduce swelling and pain, without the need for a cold compress.
There are some additional factors that will help improve your healing process.
Blood thinners will prevent the clotting of a wound which means it will take your tattoo longer to heal. This is because essential cells will not be able to form around the new tattooed area. You should avoid things like aspirin, coffee, or alcohol. If you truly need a painkiller like aspirin, consult with your artist first.
Numbing creams should absolutely be avoided on fresh ink. It can actually have adverse effects on your swelling and pain, and may actually compromise the body’s repair process. This could lead to extended healing time, or worse, burning, scarring, or damage to your new art piece.
Cheap tattoos are not good, and good tattoos are not cheap and you’ll be able to notice this immediately if you invest in a qualified artist. They know exactly where to deposit the ink in your dermis and don’t suffer from heavy-handedness, making the entire experience less painful and the healing process a breeze.
Hot showers not only have the potential to hurt your new tattoo and severely dehydrate your skin, they also increase your blood flow which could negatively affect the healing of your tattoo.
You should aim to elevate your tattooed area rather than executing pressure on the area because pressure will increase swelling.
Swelling, pain, and excessive sensitivity is all part of the experience of a new tattoo, but it goes away after the first four days or so. If it’s too painful to handle, you can reduce these concerns by icing your tattoo safely and carefully, in small sessions. Remember not to over-ice the area and to focus on other essential aftercare steps in order to speed up the healing time of your tattoo.