how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming
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How to waterproof a tattoo for swimming

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Sorry, You Can’t Waterproof Your Tattoo for Swimming: Here’s Why It’s Risky

As someone who loves both tattoos and swimming, I understand the desire to show off your new ink at the pool or beach.

However, it’s essential to prioritize the health and safety of your tattoo and your body.

The truth is, you can’t fully waterproof a tattoo, especially if it’s new. Swimming with a new tattoo increases the risk of infection and can damage the healing process. But you may wonder how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming. Is It Possible?

While it may be tempting to try and waterproof your tattoo with various products, techniques or waterproof adhesive bandages, this just honestly isn’t possible. The best course of action is to avoid swimming until your tattoo is fully healed. Otherwise you could end up with a life threatening infection.

When you get a tattoo, the artist uses needles to puncture your skin and deposit ink into the dermis layer. This process creates an open wound that needs time to heal properly.

During the healing process, your tattoo is vulnerable to bacteria and infection. Swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean exposes your tattoo to harmful bacteria, chemicals, and other irritants that can cause infection and damage the tattoo’s appearance.

Depending on the size and location of your tattoo, this can take anywhere from three to four weeks. Once your tattoo is healed, you can enjoy swimming without worrying about damaging your ink or your health.

if you need more general tattoo aftercare information please check out this post. After Tattoo Care

Why You Can’t Waterproof a Tattoo

So, how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming. What do you do?

Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to fully waterproof a tattoo before it has healed. This is because a tattoo is essentially an open wound that needs time to heal properly. 

Some people may suggest using waterproof bandages like Saniderm or Tegaderm to cover your tattoo while swimming, but this is not a foolproof solution.

While these bandages can help protect your tattoo from water, they can also trap sweat and bacteria against your skin, increasing the risk of infection.

It’s impossible to fully prevent water getting under them, and with water comes bacteria straight into the vulnerable open skin – boom – infection.

Reality Check Time – this is why you REALLY don’t want to go swimming with a fresh tattoo.

I know that not being able to swim is REALLY not what you want to hear. You want to hear that it is possible.

But I want to explain the full horrific consequence of getting a bacterial infection in your tattoo.

WARNING – this isn’t nice.

This poor 31 year old guy went swimming in the gulf of Mexico five days after getting a tattoo.

His tattoo and leg became infected by the flesh eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus which lives in ocean water / salt water

Tattoo infection after swimming
Tattoo infection after swimming in Gulf of Mexico
the tattoo infection spread up his leg
the tattoo infection spread up his leg

Despite being treated with strong antibiotics he developed septic shock and sadly died.

You can read the case in the BMJ here

So really, its not worth the risk

Ultimately, there is no safe way to go swimming with a new tattoo. While it may be tempting to take a dip in the pool or ocean, it’s important to prioritize your health and the longevity of your tattoo by following proper aftercare guidelines and avoiding swimming until the tattoo has fully healed.

It’s best to just wait.

Risks of Swimming with a New Tattoo

1 – Risk of Infection

First and foremost, swimming with a new tattoo puts you at risk of skin infection.

Your tattoo is essentially an open wound, and submerging it in water increases the likelihood of bacteria and germs entering your skin and causing an infection.

This can lead to serious health complications and may even require medical attention or result in death as we have seen.

2 – Risk of fading the tattoo

Additionally, swimming can cause damage to your tattoo and impact its appearance over time.

The chlorinated water in pools and salt in ocean water can cause your tattoo to fade, blur, or even peel.

This can result in a tattoo that looks less crisp and vibrant than it did when you first got it.

3 – Risk of taking longer to heal

It’s also important to note that swimming can prolong the healing process of your tattoo.

When you get a new tattoo, your skin needs time to heal and form a protective layer over the ink. Swimming can dry out your skin and prolong this healing process, leading to more itching, flaking, and scabbing.

No products can guarantee that they are waterproof.

While there are products that claim to be a waterproof dressing and safe for swimming, it’s important to remember that there is no guaranteed way to fully protect your tattoo while swimming.

Even with these products, there is still a risk of infection and damage to your tattoo. Whilst they will withstand washing off in the shower they will not stop bacteria entering the tattoo.

So, what can you do to protect your new tattoo while still enjoying the water? It’s just best to wait until your tattoo is fully healed before swimming.

This typically takes about 3-4 weeks.

In the meantime, avoid submerging your tattoo in water and take care to keep it clean and moisturized. When showering, be gentle and avoid scrubbing your tattoo too hard.

A Tattoo Is A Serious Commitment

It’s important to remember that a tattoo is a serious commitment that requires proper aftercare. After getting a new tattoo, you should avoid swimming or submerging the tattoo in water for at least two weeks. During this time, you should keep the tattoo clean and dry, and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or abrasive materials.

It’s OK to shower during this time, but be sure to keep the water temperature lukewarm and avoid using harsh soaps or scrubs on the tattooed area. After showering, gently pat the tattoo dry with a clean towel and avoid rubbing or scratching the area.

How to Care for a New Tattoo

Avoid Swimming for the First 2-3 Weeks

As tempting as it may be to jump into the pool or ocean with your new tattoo, it’s important to avoid swimming for the first 3-4 weeks after getting the tattoo. Swimming can introduce bacteria and other harmful substances to the tattoo, which can increase the risk of infection and other complications.

Keep the Tattoo Clean and Moisturized

During the first few days after getting a tattoo, it’s important to keep the tattoo clean and moisturized. Wash the tattoo gently with warm water and mild soap, then pat it dry with a clean towel. Apply a thin layer of tattoo aftercare cream or ointment to the tattoo to keep it moisturized and help prevent infection.


Cover the Tattoo with a Tattoo Bandage like Saniderm

Consider covering the tattoo with a tattoo bandage. This can help protect the tattoo from bacteria and other harmful substances in every day life. Be sure to change the bandage regularly and follow the instructions provided by your tattoo artist.

Remember – this won’t protect your tattoo from bacteria if you swim.

Find out more information about Saniderm – Saniderm Allergic Reaction – What does it look like?

Follow the aftercare regime your tattooist recommends

Avoid Swimming, Saunas, Hot Tubs, and the Sea

In addition to swimming, it’s important to avoid other activities that can expose the tattoo to bacteria and other harmful substances.

This includes:

  • Saunas
  • Hot tubs
  • The sea
  • Paddling in rivers and waterways

These environments can increase the risk of infection and other complications, so it’s best to wait until the tattoo is fully healed before participating in these activities.

Overall, caring for a new tattoo requires patience and diligence.

Follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist, keep the tattoo clean and moisturized, and avoid activities that can increase the risk of infection and other complications.

With proper care, your new tattoo will heal quickly and look great for years to come.

Choose the Right Time of the Year to Get Your Tattoo

Getting a tattoo is an exciting experience, but it’s important to consider the right time of the year to get one.

If you’re someone who loves to swim, it’s important to take into account that you won’t be able to go swimming for a while after getting a new tattoo. The healing process can take up to a month, and during that time, you should avoid swimming to prevent infection and damage to the tattoo.

It’s recommended to get a tattoo during the cooler months of the year, such as fall or winter.

This is because during the healing process, you need to avoid direct sunlight and excessive sweating, which can cause irritation and infection.

It’s also important to avoid swimming during this time, as the chlorine in swimming pools and saltwater in the ocean can cause damage to the tattoo and increase the risk of infection.

You also want to avoid getting a tattoo just before you go on holiday. This is so that you don’t have to avoid going in the swimming pool or hit tub in your hotel.

Overall, it’s important to carefully consider the timing of getting a tattoo so you dont miss out on activities you love.

Winter is the perfect time to get your tattoo.

Conclusion – How to waterproof a tattoo for swimming

While there are some products on the market that claim to waterproof tattoos, they are not a foolproof barrier and can actually do more harm than good.

There is no safe way to go swimming with a new tattoo. Attempting to waterproof a tattoo and swim before it has fully healed can increase the risk of infection and damage the healing process.

The best way to care for a new tattoo is to keep it dry and avoid submerging it in water until it’s fully healed. This means no swimming, soaking in a hot tub, or saunas for at least three weeks after getting a new tattoo.

In addition to the risk of infection, it is also important to be cautious when showering or bathing with a new tattoo.

Avoid using too hot water, harsh soaps, or scrubbing the area, as this can also damage the healing process and increase the risk of infection.

Ultimately, the key to keeping your tattoo looking its best is to prioritize it’s health and healing process. While it may be disappointing to miss out on swimming for a few weeks, it’s a small sacrifice to make in order to ensure you stay healthy and your brand new tattoo looks great for years to come.

The information on the site is for entertainment only. Anything you do is at your own risk. Consult with your own Tattooist, Piercer or Doctor for advice.
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