The Ultimate Day By Day Guide of Tattoo Healing Process With Pictures (2024)

Not Long ago Tattoos were considered taboo in society and therefore any knowledge regarding them was either suppressed or falsified.

However, as society became more open to tattoos we gained more knowledge about various sectors of tattooing.
Tattoo healing is one such important part about which there are still many rumors and confusion.

While a genuine tattoo artist will openly share information about the whole tattoo healing process yet it solely comes upon you to utilize that knowledge positively and heal your tattoo properly and effectively.

Here we present you the ultimate day by day guide of the tattoo healing process which discusses all the major stages of tattoo healing and how a newbie can handle it.

To summarize, A tattoo heals in three long stages that take over 4-5 weeks. Tattoo itching and scabbing is perfectly normal during these stages so do not freak out if you face such circumstances.

If you take a tattoo as a large open wound that needs to be treated and healed like any other wound then a lot of misconceptions will go right away from your mind.

A Brief Overview on tattoo healing Process –

Stage One (Tattoo Soreness and Tattoo Oozing) –

Tattoo soreness began as soon as your tattoo is brand new tattoo is wrapped. This is perfectly normal and it will be followed by oozing, swelling and scabbing. The skin around your tattoo might also get red which is an indication that your body is trying to heal the open wound that the tattoo machine gave to you.

Stage one occurs between 1 to 6 days.

Stage Two (Tattoo Scabbing, Flaking and Itching) –

This is probably the most difficult and irritating stage of the tattoo healing process. This is because your skin will form a scabby cap around the tattoo and there will be a lot of itching. Honestly if you took good care of tattoo in stage one then there will be less itching.

You will wish so badly to peel off the dead skin and at least keep rubbing it. Do not do this because the final tattoo design will not be as expected after that.

Stage two will expand from 7 days to 14 days.

Stage Three (Dullness in Tattoo) –

Most newbies regret the decision of getting tattooed in this stage. Why? – Because their tattoo becomes dull and cloudy in this stage. They hope to see the bright flashy tattoo of day one but now it is a cloudy design that is still mixed up with scabby caps.

Do not feel like this as your tattoo is yet to heal completely. If you took good care of your tattoo throughout stages one and two then you will be pleasantly surprised by the final look. The final stage is the longest and it tests your patience.

Hang on a little tighter because you are on the verge to modify your body in a beautiful way and beauty takes time. Do not forget that the tattoo still needs your love and care so continue caring after your tattoo in this stage too.

Stage three will last from 15 to 30 days.

Now we will discuss in detail about all the three stages of tattoo healing and how you should treat your tattoo in all stages.

The First Stage of Tattoo Healing Process – Oozing and Soreness

Choosing the right tattoo studio and tattoo artist is extremely important especially if you are a newbie. This is because an experienced tattoo artist will give you a lot of tips about tattoo aftercare and how you can speed up the tattoo healing process.

Also if it is your first tattoo then the artist would suggest the perfect place and size for the tattoo. I would advise you to go for the body part which is easily visible to you (like wrist or forearm). This is because you can later understand and experience the whole tattoo healing process.

This will ultimately help you to effectively take care of your second or third tattoos which can be on hidden body parts like thigh or back.

tattoo healing process
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Here is how a brand new tattoo looks like. There is redness around the tattooed skin. It is normal but if your tattoo artist is experienced then you will face little to no redness.

The tattoo machine punctures your skin hundreds of times per minute when you get tattooed. This creates an open wound on your skin. As tattoo machine puncture into the deep layers of skin from epidermis to dermis thus your body will start acting against it rapidly.

healing tattoo pictures

Here is another fresh tattoo with no redness at all. It also depends on how your skin reacts to tattoo ink and machine.

A good tattoo artist will wash off your skin with antibacterial soap as soon as the tattoo is completed. He will also wrap your tattooed skin. I would advise you to keep the wrap on for 24 hours. However, your artist might suggest you to take it off after 12 hours. It completely depends on how effectively your body heals a wound.

healing tattoo pictures

Always wrap a new tattoo design.

The flash tattoo will start looking dull and cloudy as soon as you remove the wrap. You must remove the wrap gently and gently clean off the wet plasma that came out of your skin.

Your body is sending the plasma fluid because it is acting against the open wound and trying to repair it by trying to close the first layer of the skin, the epidermis. The wet plasma is blood protein which will ultimately form scabs around your tattoo.

It is necessary that you gently clean off all the wet plasma around the tattoo. Do not use a towel or cloth. Your clean fingers would be the best option to wash off the plasma.

I would advise you to use an antibacterial and extra sensitive soap for this. You might feel heat coming out of your new tattoo at this stage. It will be followed by redness and soreness. It is perfectly normal.

healing tattoo pictures

If you clean the plasma fluid 2 3 times a day with the antibacterial soap then it will help you to heal your tattoo effectively and speedily.

If it is on a visible part of your body then you can easily see the process of tattoo scabbing. The redness and the extra heat that you feel during this stage will reduce after the first week.

Some people might experience tattoo bruising during this stage. Do not freak out. If the bruising and redness do not reduce after a week (or only keeps increasing) then I would strictly advise you to seek medical help. This might result in a tattoo infection.

As your tattoo is brand new and your skin will be extra sensitive during this stage so you might find it difficult to do several tasks during this stage.

For example you might find it difficult to sleep, especially if the tattoo is on parts like back, shoulder or thigh. You have to care for your tattoo during this stage so it does not get irritated as there are still ways to handle such situations.

The more plasma fluid you clean off during this stage the less scab your skin will form in the coming days.

The Second Stage of Tattoo Healing Process – Itching and Flaking

Staying hydrated is one of the most common and yet most important tips that every tattoo artist gives to their client. You will find the importance of staying hydrated in this stage.


Here is how tattoo scabbing looks like. You can notice that there is still redness around the skin.
The second stage began in the second week as your tattooed skin will get drier every day. Your white blood cells will form scabs on the first layer of the skin.

You will find it so hard to not to itch the tattooed skin. Remember if you itched the tattoo then you will ruin the art and the final tattoo will not be as expected.

Drink a lot of water so that your body cells around the tattooed skin stay hydrated and you do not feel a need to itch it.

Most newbies get confused when they look at their scabbed tattoo in this stage. They start believing that they have ruined the tattoo. This is not the case. Your body has closed the first layer of the skin by this stage and the ink that was on the first layer is wiped off with plasma in the first stage.

However the actual ink is still there in the deep layers of the skin and you need not worry about ruining the design (given that you took well care of tattoo in first stage).

Some of the scabs will start flaking and falling off from the skin. Let it happen naturally. Under no circumstances, you should peel the tattoo by yourself. Even if you feel like your tattoo is not flaking still you have to show patience and let it flake naturally.

healing tattoo pictures

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Just looking at this picture of tattoo flaking will give you an idea of how undesirable and unbearable this part of tattoo healing is.

Many people will also advise you to pressurize the tattooed skin to relieve yourself from the itching. Do not do it as ultimately it will distort the ink that is lying underneath your skin and is still to settle down.

You can also go for anti-itch tattoo cream during this stage. However, even a better option would be to try petroleum-free, alcohol-free and vitamin E rich tattoo butter.

Apply it gently around your tattooed skin. It will moisturize the skin and thus relieve your itching sensation.
You might also be advised you to cool down your skin with an ice pack. Do not do it as it will increase the chances of a tattoo infection. Yes keeping the temperature down of your skin will help you to fight against the itching but it might risk your skin against infection.

The Third Stage Tattoo healing Process – Dull and Cloudy Tattoo

Congratulations if you have made it this far. You have now entered into the longest stage of tattoo healing which will ultimately test your patience.

In most of the cases the tattoo scabs flake off from the skin by the time you reach the third stage. But do not worry if you still see tattoo scabs around the tattooed skin.

healing tattoo pictures

Here is an example image of how dull and cloudy your tattoo will become in the third stage.

Your skin will still be dry during this stage so staying hydrated is the secret to keep your tattoo unharmed.
Your body closed the open wound in the second stage and in the third stage a dead layer of skin will form over the tattoo. Do not remove it by yourself. You might not like the appearance of your tattoo due to this dead skin layer but have patience my friend.

Your tattoo is yet to heal completely which might extend for the next three to six months. The good thing is that underneath that dead skin layer is lying your fresh tattoo which will ultimately come over surface with the new skin layer.

While you took great care of your tattoo during the first two stages yet I would advise you to visit a doctor during this stage. This is because you will get to know if there is any case of tattoo blowout or any infection.
Do not forget to moisturize your skin with a good tattoo lotion during this stage. This is the key for a great tattoo design. Do not just rub the lotion over the tattooed skin.

The best style is to move your fingers in a circular motion over the tattoo. Do it as gently and smoothly as possible.

If your tattoo was a colored design then you might see a messed up layer of colors. You can consult your tattoo artist and show him if the tattoo is healing properly or not. However mostly it will just be the cloudy scabbing which will ultimately fall off in the next two to three months.

The Hidden Stage Of Tattoo Healing Process

Keeping your tattoo bright and shiny all your life is an art. It comes with great responsibility. You have to eat a balanced diet that is full of vitamins and minerals. You have to keep your body hydrated. You have to stay away from sunlight. You have to avoid swimming until your tattoo perfectly heals.

Also using a petroleum alcohol-free lotion on your tattoo for a prolonged period will keep the tattoo protected and alive.

Tips to Speed Up Your Tattoo Healing

Here are some give Away Tips on how to speed up your Tattoo Healing and how to take care of it –

  • Do not Scratch.
  • Do not peel.
  • Do not Pick off tattooed skin.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Keep your skin hydrated with hustle butter.
  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking 3 litre of water.
  • Do not go for swimming in an open pool.
  • Protect your tattoo from sunlight (especially UV rays).
  • Always use tattoo lotion for longevity of the design.
  • Consult your doctor at least once during the three stages of tattoo healing.
  • Pick a Good Tattoo Aftercare product.

So this was our ultimate guide on tattoo healing process. Remember that a tattoo takes 3 to 6 months to heal completely. So you should care for your tattoo even after these stages of tattoo healing are over.

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