Man showing off his back tattoo

You’ve always wanted to get a back tattoo, and now you’ve finally taken the plunge. Congratulations on your new ink! Now what?

Getting a tattoo is a powerful form of self-expression. It’s also a huge commitment. Not only is a tattoo permanent, but because it’s an invasive procedure that involves depositing ink into the skin using a fast-moving needle, it comes with risks.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, these could include skin infections, allergic reactions, rashes, flare-ups of existing skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, and scarring and keloid formation. How do you care for a back tattoo? Proper hygiene, moisturization, and protection. Here are a few tattoo-aftercare tips you can follow to avoid these complications.

Practice Proper Hygiene

The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology points out that good tattoo aftercare aims to restore your skin’s protective barrier, avoid infection, and keep your tattoo looking great and your skin healthy. And that when it comes to tattoo aftercare (especially a full backpiece tattoo), good hygiene is essential.

Make sure hands and the clothing that touch your back tattoo are always clean. Take a shower using soap and water, and rinse thoroughly. You can also use a soap substitute like Dove Men+Care Extra Fresh Body and Face Wash, which keeps your skin hydrated and protects it from irritation.

Handle Your Back Tattoo with Care

Like any wound, your back tattoo will require some TLC, so avoid any vigorous scrubbing. In fact, besides hygiene and wound-treatment purposes, you should probably keep your hands off your new ink.

After you shower, the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology suggests you pat—not rub or wipe—the area dry with a clean towel or kitchen paper, or allow for it to air dry. And though tempting, do not scratch or pick the scabs and loose skin. Scabbing is a natural part of the skin’s healing process. Picking scabs could lead to  and infection.

Avoid Sweating and Friction 

Technically, a tattoo is a wound. So, you should stay away from anything you normally would if you had any other type of open wound. The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology warns against anything that could lead to irritation through friction or sweating. 

Avoid activities and clothing that could cause trauma to your tattoo, or activities that will leave it submerged in water or covered in sweat over extended periods as this could increase the likelihood of infection.

Once your back tattoo has completely healed, you can apply a moisturizing treatment to help . According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, adding this as part of your tattoo aftercare helps reduce itching and redness; it also aids in skin repair.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying a water-based lotion or cream, especially if the skin feels dry. However, it cautions against using petroleum jelly and other petroleum-based products as these could cause the ink to fade.

Apply UV Protection 

Add your back ink to the many reasons why you need to apply religiously. The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology recommends avoiding sun exposure for several months after the procedure as it could lead to abnormal pigmentation.

Once your tattoo has healed, The American Academy of Dermatology advises applying a broad-spectrum, waterproof sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher over your tattoo 15 minutes before going out and again every two hours. This will protect your skin and your back tattoo as UV light can bleach some types of tattoo inks.

In Case of an Infection, Seek Medical Help

Following a sound tattoo-aftercare routine should help decrease the chances of your tattoo getting infected, but in case it does, do not hesitate to see a doctor. The American Academy of Dermatology says that if you notice any change in your tattoo, even years later, you should consult with a board-certified dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.

To summarize, here are a few things to avoid after getting a back tattoo:

  • Sunbathe or any form of direct, prolonged sun exposure.
  • Scrubbing or friction against rough surfaces and fabrics.
  • Using harsh products like perfumes and skin care with active ingredients.

Getting that cool new back tattoo you’ve always wanted should be a fun and exciting experience. Committing to tattoo aftercare is crucial in keeping it that way and making sure you have no regrets. Follow these tips to ensure your skin stays healthy and to keep your tattoo looking sharp.