Tattoo artist making a tattoo

How Soon After a Tattoo Can You Swim?

Heading to the beach and admiring some of the gorgeous tattoos you’ll see there might well inspire you to add to or start your own body artwork. Great idea but wrong time and wrong place. Unless you’re happy to spend the rest of your holiday deep in the shade and out of the water, this is not the time to get a new tattoo. Here’s why.

Tattoos and Sunshine

The site of any new tattoo is vulnerable to sunburn, UV rays cause fresh ink to fade and sunscreen isn’t good for new tattoos either. Fresh tattoos and sunshine holidays just aren’t a happy mix.

Tattoos and Water

You’ve invested in a life-long body decoration so you really don’t want to end up with something that looks patchy and, quite literally, washed out. New tattoos are fragile creatures and immersing them in water could cause the ink to leak and fade. Trying to keep a tattoo dry when swimming is next to impossible. So how soon after getting a tattoo can you swim? Well, not for at least two or three weeks, and if the tattoo is large you may have to wait for longer than that.

Tattoos and Skin Irritation

After a new tattoo, the skin around the site will be especially vulnerable to irritation which could lead to dermatitis. So it’s wise to avoid contact with known skin irritants. People sometimes ask ‘how soon after a tattoo can you swim in chlorine?’ Once you remember that chlorinated water is, in essence, dilute bleach, it won’t surprise you to know that it could well irritate that sensitive skin around the site of your tattoo.

Tattoos and Infection

Treat the site of your tattoo as if it were an open wound. Because that’s exactly what it is. The injuries are tiny but nevertheless they’ve compromised the integrity of the organ which is designed to form a barrier between you and the outside world. This makes swimming with new tattoos in the sea an absolutely terrible idea.

Even in areas of the world where the sea is clean and clear there will be millions of microorganisms which you really don’t want invading the site of your tattoo. One possibility is that you might end up with a surface skin infection which could leave you with a permanent scar. More seriously, if the wrong sort of bacteria enters your bloodstream you could end up with a systemic infection. At best this is going to ruin your holiday and at worst it could threaten your life.

A Design for Life (deserves a few week’s care)

It all sounds like a pain, but if you want the best possible tattoo it’s vital that you give it the proper care in the early days. Here’s a quick reprisal of the main points:

Can you go swimming after getting a tattoo? Yes, of course. Just wait for it to completely heal first.

How can you protect a new tattoo when swimming? You really can’t! You can protect a tattoo from water in the shower, and maybe even in the bath at a push, but while swimming? Not a hope!

How long can you not swim after a tattoo? You need to wait at least two weeks, some experts say three. As a general rule, the larger the tattoo the longer the healing time. It the site is still scabbing, flaking, itching or pealing you’re not ready to get back into the water.

So there you have it. If your plans for your summer holiday include snorkelling in Playa Del Carmen with Koox Diving or any other activities that involve exposure to sun or sea hold off on that new tattoo until you return. That way you’ll get to enjoy your break to the max and maximise your chances of ending up with a piece of skin artwork that draws attention for all the right reasons.