Aquaphor is a topical emollient, a medication used as a moisturizer to treat or prevent dry skin. Many people who are prone to dry skin or chapped lips consider Aquaphor a must-have. Emollients are substances that soften and moisten skin and ease itching and peeling. Topical emollients are also used on rough, itchy skin, and to treat minor skin irritations such as skin burns from radiation therapy, acne, cold sores, etc. Aquaphor is often used on new tattoos. So in this article we are going to answer all of your questions about this product, and how long to use Aquaphor for tattoos.
How Does Aquaphor Work?
The cause of dry skin is primarily loss of water in the skin’s upper layer. Emollients are in essence moisturizers that create an oily layer on top of the skin which keeps water trapped in the skin. In addition, the essential ingredients combine their strength and actually pull water from the air and into the skin. Mineral oil and lanolin are two common emollients. Often, these products also have ingredients that help soften keratin, the horny substance that keeps the top layer of skin cells together. What this does is aid the dead skin cells in falling off, and aids the skin in holding in more water, thus leaving the skin with a softer and smoother feel.
How to Use Aquaphor on a Brand-New Tattoo
Wait until the tattoo is completely dry and then apply Aquaphor healing ointment. Simply put down a thin layer and then rub it in, then use a clean paper towel to gently blot off any excess. It is only necessary to use Aquaphor during the initial healing period. Here are instructions to do this:
- Remove the bandage/wrap – This can normally come off after a few hours, but allow it to remain on for as long as your tattoo artist suggests. Some recommend leaving the protective wrapping on overnight.
- Clean the tattoo – Now you need to wash your tattoo. Because new tattoos tend to form scabs and leak, you should gently wash it with a mild soap, using only your hands and moving in a circular motion.
Don’t scrub the tattoo using a washcloth or scrape off any scabs, because this can cause loss of ink, and then your tattoo will ll look faded.
- Dry the tattoo – Be sure you do this thoroughly so as not to trap a lot of excess moisture in when you put the Aquaphor on, so use a clean paper towel to blot your tattoo dry. Now you are ready for the Aquaphor.
Will Aquaphor Burn My Tattoo?
Although Aquaphor’s reputation is largely as a moisturizer for dry skin, it is a common practice to use it for tattoo aftercare as well. The only reason it would burn your tattoo is if you are having an allergic reaction to it. That would also cause redness and swelling.
What Are the Potential Cons of Aquaphor?
Like with most other good things, too much Aquaphor on your tattoo can lead to problems. When you rub Aquaphor just use a little. The reason is that a tattoo requires oxygen in order to heal properly, and putting too much Aquaphor on can clog your pores and suffocate the skin. If you should start breaking out in little bumps or pimples, or get a rash and swelling, of if your scabs begin to turn soft, then that might be your skin’s way of letting you know that you are using too much Aquaphor.
What Should I do if I Encounter Issues During My Tattoo Healing Process?
If it doesn’t seem to you that your tattoo isn’t healing properly, the best advice is to see your doctor as soon as possible. Indications that there is a problem include:
- Fever or chills – If you are experiencing these flu-like symptoms, it could be because your tattoo has become infected, or you could be allergic to the ink. Don’t waste time going back to your tattoo artist, just see your doctor immediately.
- Redness – Now don’t be alarmed at first. It’s perfectly normal for your tattoo to be red and perhaps even a little puffy and swollen in the days right after you have it done. If, however, the redness doesn’t go away, and the swelling seems to be getting worse, it could be an early indication that something is amiss.
- Oozing liquid – If you find that fluid, particularly green or yellow in color, is oozing from. Your tattoo a week after having it done, it’s highly advisable to see your doctor.
- Swollen, puffy skin – This is normal at first and no cause for concern, but if the swelling doesn’t go away, and the skin around the tattoo becomes inflamed, it could be an indication that you are allergic to the ink used in the tattoo. See your doctor right away.
- Extended itching or hives – If you happen to break out in hives in the days or weeks after you’ve gotten a tattoo, visit your doctor. Also, if your tattoo is extremely itchy, or won’t stop itching for a while, see your doctor. It can be an indication of an allergy. Remember that an allergic reaction to a tattoo does not always happen right after you get the tattoo. It can happen months or even years later.
- Scarring – A brand new tattoo is the same as an open wound. Just as you would expect from any other cut or wound, it will scab over as of the healing process. But a tattoo that has healed in the right way should not leave a scar.
Does Aquaphor Pull Ink Out of Tattoos?
Not to worry. It’s natural and perfectly normal for all new tattoos to bleed out excess ink. Your tattoo will still have lots of color left once it heals up. What happens is that the thick texture of Aquaphor soaks up some of that ink which is naturally leaking, and it may appear that you are losing more ink than you really are.
When Should I Switch to Lotion?
Here’s your answer to how long to use Aquaphor for tattoos. Use Aquaphor for the first 2-3 days after receiving the tattoo, then switch to a lotion such as Lubriderm or any other lotion that is fragrance-free.
Dealing With Extreme Itching
A tattoo is most likely to become itchy when it’s new, but this can happen at any point in the healing process. You might think nothing of it, but when you get a new tattoo, the skin is actually being damaged with needles and ink, which is bound to lead to itchiness afterwards.
Regardless of the cause, you should make every effort not to scratch your tattoo, particularly if it’s fresh ink that’s still healing. The reason is because this can cause serious damage to the tattoo, as well as to your skin.
While itchiness is more likely to occur with new tattoos, it can also happen with old tattoos too. Here are some of the reasons for itchiness with a tattoo:
1. Normal healing process
What you need to understand is that when you get a fresh tattoo, even if the process is not all that painful, your skin is damaged. Afterwards, it is recovering from a wound just like it would from a cut. Your skin becomes inflamed because it is trying to keep infection at bay and repair itself all at the same time. As the tissues of the skin heal, there is going to be some itchiness.
Sometimes a person will experience an allergic reaction to the ink used in tattooing. This is because tattoo pigments can be made from dyes that are in turn created from plastic materials. You can have an allergic reaction right after getting the tattoo, or several years after having gotten the tattoo. The result of this could be severe itching along with redness and hive-like bumps.
3. Contaminated ink
You could experience symptoms of itchiness and swelling if your tattooist used ink that has been contaminated. Even if the ink is labeled “sterile”, you can still have issues.
4. Preexisting skin conditions
Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, can lead to problems. You could have a flare-up of the condition after you get a tattoo. This can lead to severe red, itchy patches of skin developing anywhere on your body and a tattooed area is no exception.
This condition may occur with older tattoos. It is an autoimmune condition which can erupt even decades later. In addition to causing extreme itching and inflammation in the tattoo itself, it can also affect the internal organs.
6. MRI Reactions
Although it is rare, MRI scans can affect old tattoos causing itching and swelling. Normally, this will clear up on its own within a short time period.
Treating an Extremely Itchy Tattoo
- OTC creams and ointments – Normally you don’t want to use these on new tattoos because they can affect the natural healing of the skin. You can apply topical hydrocortisone to an older tattoo that begins to itch.
- Cool compresses – If your tattoo is extremely itchy and swollen, cool compresses are a good way to ease the itchiness, reduce swelling, and in general cool down the area. Keep in mind that it can take up to 2 weeks for fresh tattoos to heal.
- Keep moisturized – If you have skin that itches and is also dry, moisturizing may help. For old tattoos use either a lotion that is oatmeal-based or a moisturizer that is thicker made from cocoa butter. Avoid medications with fragrances and colors, as these could end up causing even more irritation and making the problem worse.
For new tattoos, the tattoo artist frequently recommends Aquaphor for several days, and then an unscented lotion.
- Oatmeal bath (only for old tattoos) – If you have an old tattoo that becomes excessively itchy, a colloidal oatmeal bath can provide enormously soothing relief. Do not use this method on new tattoos, because they shouldn’t be submerged in water for at least 2 weeks.
- Medications for skin conditions – If you have a case where a preexisting skin condition is causing your tattoo to itch unbearably, your doctor can prescribe topical creams. These conditions include eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
- Drawing out old ink – In the worst-case scenario, where the ink is the cause of your itchiness, you’ll need to visit a dermatologist for professional tattoo removal.
Tattoo Peeling and Healing FAQs
1. How long does it take a tattoo to heal?
There is no straight answer to this. It depends on the person and the area of the tattoo. There are times when it appears a tattoo is completely because it’s fine on the surface, but the layers underneath the skin are still not fully repaired. Generally, 2 months is a good mark. It’s a bit longer than necessary, but this way you will be able to be absolutely certain that your skin has completely healed.
2. Is it normal for a tattoo to be peeling and itching?
Absolutely. In fact, you should expect your tattoo to peel and itch like a sunburn would. But avoid scratching or peeling the skin as much as possible because that can also pull out the ink of the tattoo.
It’s like asking the impossible, we know, but just allow the skin to flake off all by itself. Applying Aquaphor should help.
3. The skin that is peeling off is colored like the tattoo itself – does this mean my tattoo is coming off?
Relax, it’s perfectly okay. This is a natural part of the healing process. Along with going beneath the surface, the top layer of dead skin was also colored while the tattoo was being created. That outer layer will fall off, leaving fresh tattooed skin exposed.
Tattoo Aftercare Tips
Even if your tattoo seems to be perfectly fine, proper after care is vital to preventing infection and helping it to heal properly.
- Keep the tattoo clean – This is a must if you want to avoid infection. Employ an unscented, hypoallergenic soap to clean your tattoo. Allow the tattoo to completely dry before you put on moisturizer.
- Moisturize – Most likely your tattoo artist will recommend that you use a thick ointment such as Aquaphor during the first 3 days, but after that, you can change over to a lighter moisturizer such as Lubriderm.
Some people use pure coconut oil, because it is an antimicrobial. Just make certain you do not use products that are scented, because this can irritate healing skin.
- Wear sunscreen – During the first several months after you have gotten the tattoo, whenever you intend to spend some time outdoors, cover it with sunscreen. This is because direct sunlight can fade your tattoo, and this cannot be reversed.
- Don’t pick at scabs – Your tattoo is going to scab over and it will definitely itch. Try not to scratch or pick at it. Scratching can change the appearance of the tattoo or even lead to scarring. Use moisturizer to ease the itching.
The purpose of this article is to help you learn how long to use Aquaphor for tattoos, as well as how to properly care for your tattoo once you receive it. In addition, we hope that we’ve answered your questions about to do if a tattoo begins itching uncontrollably, and about the normal healing process after you get a tattoo. If you follow the advice given in this article, you should end up with a tattoo that is in excellent condition, and which you can enjoy for a long time to come.