hand tattoo aftercare process

The Guide to Hand Tattoo Aftercare

Tattoo aftercare is pretty straightforward – clean and moisturize often, avoid sources of bacteria, and monitor for signs of infection. But for hand tattoos, there’s a bit more to proper aftercare. 

Your hands are involved in nearly every part of your daily life – meaning more wear and tear and increased exposure to the elements (sunlight, cold weather, infections, etc.). And because you’re pushing, pulling, and grabbing things throughout the day, the skin on your hands wrinkles and stretches over time from constant use, which could reduce the lifetime of your tattoo.

For these reasons, the worst places to get a hand tattoo are on the side of your hand, palms, and in between your fingers. These areas are prone to more wear and tear from other parts of your body and external surfaces. On top of that, these parts of your skin don’t hold ink well – your tattoo could fade within just a few years or months.

side of the hand tattoo

Instead, the best places to get a hand tattoo are on the top of your hand or fingers. These areas aren’t as involved in day-to-day habits and these types of skin absorb ink much better for a longer-lasting look.

And if you want to add ink to both hands, we recommend doing so one at a time. Your hand will be sensitive for a few days after your session, so it’s best to have at least one healthy hand to perform basic day-to-day tasks.

Hand tattoos might sound like too much of a hassle, but they don’t have to be. So if you want your ink to last, follow these hand tattoo aftercare tips.

What’s the best way to heal a hand tattoo?

Ice immediately afterwards

Your hand tattoo is going to hurt. To make it hurt less, apply ice once you get home to reduce pain and inflammation.

Clean your tattoo 3-4x daily

It goes without saying that you should clean your hand tattoo, just like any other tattoo. But how?

Can you wash your hands after getting a hand tattoo?

Yes, you need to wash your hands after getting a hand tattoo – at least three to four times per day

To make it easy, clean it first thing in the morning, in the late morning/early afternoon, in the evening, and right before bed.

In addition to the standard 3-4x per day, you should clean your tattoo after eating, exercising, working outside, or exposing the area to potential bacteria.

What to clean it with

Scented soaps are often made with artificial chemicals to create a quality-smelling soap. Unfortunately, these fragrances aren’t so great for your healing skin. Choose a fragrance-free soap to avoid irritating your skin.

And rather than use a fragrance-free bar soap, opt for a liquid, pump soap. Bar soaps tend to sit in small pools of water after being used – collecting bacteria that could infect & damage your new tattoo.

How to clean the area

If the tattoo is on the back or side of your hand, diligently clean your palms for 15-20 seconds with warm water before using your palms & fingers to clean the tattoo area.

To clean a tattoo directly on your palm, gently wash the area with warm water for 15-20 seconds. Don’t scrub too thoroughly as you could cause further irritation and permanently damage the ink.

Gently dry the area with a clean paper towel afterwards.

Moisturize often

Moisturizing helps your skin regenerate more quickly, reduce irritation, and create a healthy environment for your skin cells to heal the damaged skin. 

Dry skin reduces cellular activity and delays the healing process. And, dry skin is more susceptible to bacterial infections, which will ruin your tattoo.

Don’t be so eager to moisturize – avoid putting any ointment or moisturizing cream on your tattoo for at least 24 hours after your session.

If you’re using lotion to moisturize, apply 3-5 times per day for at least the first two weeks, then regularly as a part of your daily skincare regimen. And just like soap, choose a scent-free lotion to avoid irritating your skin. We do not recommend Aquaphor or Vaseline, as these petroleum-based products will harbor too much moisture. 

Step up your hand tattoo aftercare routine even more with an all-in-one tattoo healing balm. Apply Ink Balm 1-2x per day in a circular motion using just your finger for optimal moisture, skin health, and ink vibrance.

Protect yourself from the sun

Even a few minutes of UV exposure can fade, crack, and/or blister your tattoo, so cover your tattoo with plenty of sunscreen. 

To be safe, it’s best to completely avoid the sun for 3-4 weeks after your session to protect your skin.

If you are unable to avoid the sun, protect your ink with a broad-spectrum, fragrance-free sunscreen that is at least 30-50 SPF. Try to find one made with organic ingredients, as too many artificial ingredients can further irritate your skin.

When applying sunscreen to other parts of your body, it tends to get on your hands anyways. But to be sure, apply a coat of sunscreen directly over the tattoo area to protect it, even if you’ll only be outside for just a few minutes.

Keep your hand out of the water

Pools, lakes, rivers, and oceans are breeding grounds for bacteria. And even though you might be able to still enjoy a day at the pool without getting your hand wet, be extra careful to keep it out of the water and protected from the sun. 

Avoid bodies of water for at least 3-4 weeks after your session to prevent infections or damaging your ink.

If you accidentally get your hand tattoo wet, clean and moisturize the area immediately to protect your ink. 

The same goes for showers – limit the amount of time spent in the shower while in the early stages of the healing process. Take a short, cool shower to avoid burning your skin.

Don’t wear gloves

Whether you’re trying to protect your hand from the hot sun or cold weather, gloves aren’t the best decision. Constantly putting on and taking off the glove creates friction, damaging your tattoo.

How long do hand tattoos take to heal?

The outer layer of skin typically heals in 2 to 3 weeks, while the sub-layers can take up to 4-6 months to fully heal. But as with all tattoos, healing times vary based on size, location, and skin type. 

That’s why it’s important to maintain a proper aftercare routine, so you can show your ink off for years to come. 

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