The answer is YES, scabs are a perfectly normal step of the healing process for your new tattoo. If you’re wondering what you need to do, don’t do anything! Just leave the scabs alone, and they’ll do their own thing in the natural healing and sealing process and will fall off on their own. However, here are some tips on what not to do:
Don’t pick at the scab.
Scabs protect your tattoo from bacteria, working as a dam or barrier as the white blood cells under your scab work their magic and kill any germs that get through the scabby layer. They will also help to heal and repair the skin underneath.
Picking at them can cause the scabs to take bits of ink with them and prevent your skin from healing properly, causing the color to fade or even cause scarring. After investing a lot of money into your new tattoo, you want to ensure your work of art is in tip top shape!
Don’t submerge your tattoo.
Getting your tattoo wet for long periods of time can be very detrimental to your tattoo. It will cause your tattoo to heal like it’s 30 years old, as the ink will not be able to set into your skin, causing large patches of discolored skin, and spots of ink loss. It can also allow bacteria under the weakened layer of scabs, causing an infection.
What if the scabs are thick and dense?
Even if the scabs are large and dense, keep yourself from deviating from the original healing plan. The larger, thicker scabs usually have a larger amount of ink built up, so as time goes and you heal, they will naturally be sucked back into your skin.
However, you can try to apply a bit of ointment or aftercare cream on your larger scabs right after your wash, while the scab is still slightly moist, so that it can absorb a little bit of moisture and flatten out a bit.
Keep in mind that leaving the scabs alone are the best steps to take, and that to try to mess with them is risky and should be done at your own discretion. Tattoos need a good balance of moist and dry so that they can heal correctly.
If the scabs feel tight and dry, and crack as you move, apply a bit of cream to soak up and moisturize, gently patting off any excess with a clean paper towel.
Scabs are just part of the process of a tattoo, and doesn’t mean that you have an infection. However, infection can still occur underneath the scab layer, and signs of an infection will be a weepy tattoo that emits yellowish/green fluid, hot and painful to the touch, redness and swelling. If you think you have an infection, you can call your artist to confirm or go to the doctor and get antibiotics.
Remember kids, always wash your hands before touching your fresh tattoos!