Tips To Ensure Your Hand Tattoos Heal Properly

While there's no doubt that hand tattoos can be gorgeous and edgy, there are a few things to consider before you book an appointment to have one done. "There is no turning back once you have your hands tattooed. Remember, these tattoos will be seen by everyone and are not easy to conceal. Also, as the wearer, you always have to see these tattoos, so choose wisely," Jessica Valentine, a tattoo artist and the owner of Haven Studio, told Refinery29. On top of that, you need to pick a placement. That could be on the back of your hand or palm, not to mention a finger tattoo, knuckle ink, or even permanent art on your cuticles.


You also need to determine if you can handle the process and aftercare. For instance, getting a tattoo on your hand is relatively painful. Plenty of people consider it among the most painful spots on the body to get a tattoo. Finally, Mira Mariah, a tattoo artist at Fleur Noire, explained to Refinery29 that inking the thin skin on the hand is not exactly easy, and the same can be said of making sure that your body art heals properly.

In fact, if you don't know how to really care for your new tattoo, then you might end up with something that looks terrible and feels even worse. Fortunately, we have a few tips to ensure your hand tattoo heals properly.

Wash your hands with specific cleanser

After getting a new tattoo, you must keep it clean for a good reason. "Tattoos are at high risk for infection, especially within the first five to seven days, as the skin is still healing and may have openings that can allow bacteria in," Tiffany L. Clay, M.D., a medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatologist, told Byrdie. That's why it's vital to use something on and around your tattoo that will get rid of potential bacteria while also not doing any damage itself.


"Look for soap-free cleansers with ingredients such as glycerin, a water-attracting humectant, and niacinamide, a B vitamin that aids in hydrating the skin barrier," Clay explained. Beyond that, some products can do even more for the art on your hand, such as providing what the wound needs to heal. "Some of the best tattoo-friendly body washes also contain healing and anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as thermal spring water, vitamin B5, vitamin E, sea buckthorn, aloe vera, plant oils, and arnica," Clay added.

Granted, this kind of attention to what you're putting on your hand tattoo goes beyond what cleanser you use. You have to be just as careful with another part of your skincare routine that might involve putting aside your favorite products for a little while.


Use tattoo-friendly moisturizer

Along with keeping your new hand tattoo nice and clean, you also want to keep it moisturized. Tattoo artist Mike Nomy, owner of South Shore Tattoo Co., explained to Good Housekeeping, "It helps the tattoo settle into your skin and look like it's a part of you." That's why you'll want to aim to cover the entire piece without totally slathering it in whatever product you've chosen. You also want to massage the cream into your skin gently. Do this at least twice each day or three times if needed, and keep this up for the same number of days.


If you skip this step, you'll likely regret it. Mona Gohara, M.D., a dermatologist and associate clinical professor at the Yale School of Medicine, told GH, "It could further compromise the skin barrier, leading to scarring, redness, irritation, and inflammation."

Again, you just be sure to use the right product. Your body art won't react well if you cover it with an intense moisturizer filled with fragrances. Instead, Gohara said, "It's important to use a barrier cream because the process [of getting a tattoo] compromises our protective skin barrier. Replacing essential fats and proteins jostled in the process is a must." That's also why you may want to protect your hand tattoo in another way whenever you pop outside.


Protect your hand tattoo from the sun without sunscreen

Whether you have a new tattoo or not, keeping your skin safe from the sun is always important. However, that is particularly vital if you have fresh ink. We probably don't have to point out that art, on your hand, can be vulnerable because it can be so easily exposed to harmful rays. As for the unwanted effect, sun damage can fade the ink in your tattoo much faster, according to Doing Tattoo.


That might make you assume that you need to rub sunscreen on your hand art before you step outside, but you should think again. Healthline notes that you don't want to put sunscreen on a tattoo that still isn't healed because the chemicals in the product can upset your tattooed skin.

Does that mean you must stay out of the sun entirely until your hand returns to normal? Although that might be ideal, it's likely, not possible. That's why Healthline suggests doing your best to keep the area covered. Leave the fitted gloves at home and opt for long sleeves that can be pulled over your hands without being too tight, and you should be good to go.

No swimming, baths, or long showers

When you wash your hands after getting a tattoo, you obviously need to get the ink a little wet. It wouldn't exactly be effective if you didn't. However, remember that's precisely what you should do: damp but don't drench it. According to Healthline, brand-new body art that's been overly saturated can allow bacteria to enter the wound. This can cause dryness, cracked skin, a dreaded infection, and permanent scars.


Until your tattoo fully heals, you must skip baths or keep your tattooed hand out of the water. If you need to shower, temporarily cover your hand to protect it from getting soaking wet. It's best to use a waterproof bandage or plastic that can be easily removed once you're done.

It's also a good idea to wait around two weeks or more before doing other water-based activities. That means you'll have to take swimming out of your schedule and skip any plans to spend time in a hot tub, scuba diving, and waterskiing if those happen to be things you might find yourself doing.

Don't pick or scratch your hand tattoo

While keeping your hand tattoo adequately hydrated will prevent it from drying, it will also address another issue. "If you don't moisturize — which even I'm guilty of with a few of my tattoos — your tattoo can develop hard scabs that can cause the ink to fall out with the scab," Liz Goold, the general manager of Nice Tattoo Parlor, explained (and admitted) to Cosmopolitan.


If you do end up developing scabs, then the area might become uncomfortably itchy. In that case, you must resist the urge to scratch or pick at the site. Not only can it hurt because your skin will be sensitive for a while, but it can also cause a painful infection, according to Medical News Today. Beyond that, if you scratch or pick at the scabs and they fall off before the tattoo is healed, it can affect the ink in your skin, damage the design, and result in permanent scars.

To deal with the itchy situation, stick to your moisturizing routine and wait until the problem disappears. That will likely happen within a week or two. Any longer than that, you might want to check in with your doctor to ensure no serious problems have popped up and your hand tattoo is healing properly.