How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Swim?

How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Swim? - Timing is everything!

Unless you got one of those trendy temporary tattoos, it is in your (and your new tattoo’s) best interest to stay clear of pools, oceans, ponds, jacuzzis or any size body of water that you might be submerging into, even a bathtub, for a good amount of time. Experts conclude that the ideal amount of time (before taking that refreshing dip you so crave, exposing the awesome artwork on your bod) should actually be about 4-6 weeks. That might seem like a big chunk of your summer! But when you think about all those amazing summers to come, you are going to want to keep that ink looking crisp and beautiful for many more years simply by following a few steps early on to ensure it’s longevity. At a minimum you should wait about 4 weeks, when there is no more peeling, scabbing, or flaking on or around your tattoo before taking the plunge.

*According to the American Academy of Dermatology 1 month is the average amount of time it takes for a new layer of skin to fully grow, therefore ensuring your tattoo is 100% set and waterproof.

swimming with tattoo

Diving Deeper: Can You Go In The Ocean With A New Tattoo?

Salt water on a wound never feels great. Since the skin at your new tattoo site is quite raw still within the first few weeks, swimming in the ocean will not only be stingingly painful because of the high salt content, there is a bigger risk of getting a serious infection from the sheer amount of bacteria floating around. Especially in the warmer months, when swimming season is at it’s peak, so also is the bacteria count usually at it’s peak.

Submerging or soaking your new tattoo in any kind of water, especially the ocean, is one of the worst things you can do. It will actually slow the healing process, it will not scab properly (soggy scabbing is gross), and you run the risk of letting bacteria and chemicals seep into your skin. These elements can fade your fresh ink, or create inflammation which in turn can cause the ink to seep out of place. Not a good thing.

swim with tattoo

The beach in general is not a friendly place for a new tattoo. Sand can be especially painful if it gets rubbed onto your new foot tattoo for instance. And sun damage is probably the most harmful of all. (Read more about that here). Basically, the sand, sun, and water, are all your tattoo’s enemy in those first few delicate weeks of it’s young life. So during that time, try not to go to the beach if you can. Your tattoo will thank you later with many long years of crispness and clarity.

New Tattoos and Pool Water - Does Chlorine Affect New Tattoos?

Yes. Firstly, even though swimming pools have chlorine in them for sterilization, they can still have bacteria present. And secondly, chlorine on new tattoos can cause discoloration and fade your treasured artwork. If you lap swim regularly, this might pose a problem for you. Consider the options of getting other forms of exercise during tattoo healing time. Consult with your tattoo artist if 4 weeks have passed, your tattoo appears to be completely healed, and discuss with a pro about getting back into the pool. For some people, swimming everyday might be a necessity for their health, so those individuals might need to ask the tricky question if getting a tattoo is really a worthwhile investment for them personally, if going for a few weeks without swimming is going to be detrimental to their health.

swim with tattoos


What About Waterproof Bandages for New Tattoos?

Before you start thinking this might be a loophole, there really is no such thing as a completely waterproof bandage. You are still bound to get some seepage of that chlorine or bacteria-filled sea water leaking in. Plus keeping your new tattoo air-tight is also damaging, it needs fresh air to heal and breathe.

Can You Get New Tattoos Wet?

Yes, by all means please take a shower! Keeping your new tattoo clean is a very good thing. Also making sure it doesn’t dry out, regular gentle washing with lukewarm water is important. Just don’t soak in the tub until the new layer of skin has fully grown over, which again takes about 4-6 weeks time. (Read about the best soaps to clean your new tattoo with here).

And speaking of tubs, please do not go soaking yourself in a jacuzzi or hot tub with that fresh ink. New tattoos and hot tubs with all that heat and bacteria are a bad combination.

Swimming with tattoo

photo by Jim Campbell

Tattoos And Swimming - Plan ahead!

So can you swim after getting a tattoo? Eventually of course, just not right away. Give your skin time to heal. It might seem like forever, but what is a month really in the grand scheme of things? A 4-week-old baby is still pretty brand new, and your tattoo baby will only look better after waiting it out.

Everyone is aware that hindsight is 20/20, but if you happen to be still in the tattoo planning stage, you might want to consider this option and be one step ahead; maybe plan to get your tattoo done during the colder months of the year when trips to the beach/pool are less of a temptation. Also you have the added bonus to have an epic “unveiling” as soon as summer rolls around! Unless of course, you live in a warm climate where beach life is a 24/7 thing, then you’ll just have to not do the thing that will ruin your new tattoo, for at least 4 weeks.

tattoo in water


More info on complete tattoo aftercare here.

And of course the best thing you can do after you get a new tattoo in regards to swimming is listen and follow the instructions your tattoo artist gives you. They are the professional, and will know exactly how your particular type of tattoo will heal best. So make sure you clarify with them if you have any questions regarding swimming with new tattoos.


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