Along with the explicit instructions given by the tattoo artist, people with new tattoos can apply ice to the new tattoo, can use an antibacterial ointment on the tattoo and can apply bandages to their tattoo if they are going to be in situations where the tattoo may come into contact with large amounts of dirt. A new tattoo should be kept clean but should never be scrubbed or washed harshly.
Bleeding can be expected in a new tattoo for the first 24 hours. Excessive bleeding may signal a problem, and it is important to use bandages and apply pressure to the tattoo if there is a large amount of bleeding. Pain is also common with new tattoos and can be treated easily with an over-the-counter pain medication. The area around the tattoo may become swollen in the first few days. An antihistamine in combination with an ice pack will generally reduce the amount of swelling in new tattoos. While a bandage is a good idea for a tattoo that is going to be subjected to a dirty environment, the tattoo should be left without a bandage the majority of the time. Air will help a tattoo heal faster.