Healing a tattoo takes time. When you first get a tattoo it’s frustrating because you want to be done with putting lotion on, done with keeping it covered, done with the infernal itching and peeling. Tattoo healing times can differ from person to person based on medical history, age, the size and type of a tattoo, and even how heavy handed the artist was. There are loads of things which can affect how well your tattoo has healed so how can you tell it’s finished?
Simple time is often the best indicator. If it’s been about 6 weeks your tattoo has healed. Unless you have a medical condition which affects your healing your tattoo is generally healed in 4-6 weeks. If it’s still tender or peeling at that point don’t fret, a couple more weeks on top of that isn’t bad but if it’s been over 2 months and your tattoo still doesn’t seem healed then you may want to get it checked out. Some people heal much sooner though, and you may see the top layer of skin formed over in a week if your tattoo is small, though it will still be healing under the skin.
If your tattoo has stopped peeling, including the thin white pieces of skin like a sunburn then it’s probably healed. The shedding process removes the last of the damaged skin from the tattoo process and seals the ink under the new epidermis so that it remains permanent. This also applies to scabbing. Any scabs on top of the skin that remain are a sign that your tattoo isn’t healed yet.
If your tattoo still hurts then it’s not healed. Pain is a sign of damage to skin cells and the nerves beneath them, signaling that the healing process is still ongoing. If your tattoo is a bit sore for the first couple of weeks that’s normal, and if it feels sensitive for another 2 weeks, especially to sunlight, that’s normal too. If you’ve had your tattoo over a month and it’s still angry and tender you may find that there’s more going on.
Sometimes when a scab falls off too soon the skin underneath has a cloudy or paler appearance than the skin around it. This is a sign that your tattoo is still healing beneath the skin. This is often a sign of slow healing and while it may prolong healing for 1-2 weeks more it isn’t necessarily a sign that there is a problem. Cloudiness is most visible in darker colors like black and blue. If it’s no longer cloudy then your tattoo is healed fully.
This should only be present in the first few days. If you’ve still got any issues with oozing or discoloration after the first week then get it checked out because it’s definitely not healing. Tattoos only ooze a mixture of plasma, ink, and blood for the first 24-48 hours so anything more than that isn’t normal. The same goes with any smells or colored discharge, or veins coming out from the tattoo area. In fact, if anything like that shows up you should get it checked out asap.