Caring for a new tattoo involves keeping it clean and protected. After that, the tattoo needs to be moisturized. Finally, scabs should never be picked as that causes scarring.
Most tattoo artists cover new tattoos with plastic wrap to protect them from air-born bacteria. After an hour, the plastic wrap is removed and the tattoo rinsed with lukewarm (not hot) water without rubbing. Antibacterial soap can be used. This removes blood, excess ink and whatever ointment the tattoo artist applied. The tattoo should be patted dry with a fresh paper towel.
Tattoo experts have differing opinions about which ointment should be applied over a fresh tattoo to keep it protected. Some suggest A&D Ointment, a baby rash treatment. Others suggest specialty ointments such as Tattoo Goo. Aquaphor Healing Ointment is another option. Apply the ointment as a thin layer over the tattoo for a week.
As the tattoo heels, the skin will first start peeling. The peels cannot be pulled as the ink may also come off. After four days, the tattoo can be lightly rubbed with a clean washcloth to loosen the peeling skin. Eventually the tattoo will scab over. At this time, ointment is no longer necessary, and the skin should be kept moist with gentle, fragrance-free lotion.
Tattoos don't heal fully for up to 6 months. During that time, they should not be exposed to the sun.