Healing My New Tattoo
My freshly tattooed foot, still a bit swollen, by Jacqueline Spoerle.
From my old Needled.com days to today's N+S posts, I vowed I'd never do one of those Tattoo 101 things like How to Chose a Tattooist or Convention Etiquette. It's all been said and done. And I'm writing for people with a real passion for the art already. This dance ain't for everyone. Only the sexy people.
But the one basic aspect of tattooing that has launched a thousand theories is healing.
What's the best way to heal a fresh tattoo?
For a glimpse at just how many different kinds of theories are out there, check R.A.B.'s FAQs on tattoo aftercare. Yeah, I'm takin it old school today. The list includes some offbeat suggestions like the "Noxema heal" but doesn't include the more recent "Japanese method" of hot water soaking (also noted in Wikipedia).
As for me, my back, arms, stomach, ribs and even the back of my head (see my tattoo pix here) have all healed according to the LITFA method. Leave It The Fuck Alone. Keep it clean. Dry it out. Don't scratch and later moisturize.
But this was not going to do for my new foot tattoo, needled by the wonderful Jacqueline Spoerle at the Auckland tattoo fest Sunday. I faced two problems: I was going to be on my feet for a long time and walking around not-so-clean places AND I had a 13-hr flight less than 48 hours later.
Jacqueline has been working a great deal lately with doctors in Switzerland doing reconstructive nipple and mastectomy scar tattooing for breast cancer survivors, and has asked the MDs how they suggest healing fresh tattoos. They recommended the opposite of my usual dry-it-out method: Keep it moist! In fact, she advised that I keep it wrapped for 3-4 days particularly because feet are more difficult to heal, even without long flights and running around.
That's what I've been doing. I've also been using After Ink Tattoo Care, which I picked up at the convention. It's petroleum-free and uses natural ingredients including calendula oil, which is high in Vitamin E. See the full ingredients list here.
So far so good. It's still a bit red and swollen but to be expected. I just took the iPhone photo above in my LA hotel (a quick stopover as I wait to head back to NYC tomorrow. Another long flight!). Will post photos of the tattoo when it heals and we'll see how this new method worked.
Feel free to share your tattoo aftercare in the comments section.