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Sleeping With a New Tattoo: The Do’s and Don’ts

Updated: Dec 17, 2023


Sleeping With a New Tattoo

Getting a tattoo is a significant and personal decision, and taking care of your new or first tattoo is essential to ensure it remains vibrant and clear for years to come! Proper aftercare can help prevent infections, fading, or other complications that can impact the appearance of your tattoo. In this blog, we’ll explore why it’s so important to take care of your new tattoo and provide tips on the dos and don’ts for optimal healing and maintenance!


Taking care of your new tattoo during sleep is important because this is when the skin is in the process of healing, and proper care during this time can help prevent infection and promote optimal healing. Here are a few reasons why taking care of your tattoo during sleep is critical:

  • Protecting from infection: During the first few days after getting a tattoo, the skin is more susceptible to infection. Sleeping on freshly tattooed skin can introduce bacteria and other contaminants to the wound, increasing the risk of infection.

  • Keeping the area clean: Keeping the tattoo covered and protected while sleeping can help prevent the buildup of dirt, sweat, and other substances that can irritate the skin and slow down the healing process.

  • Minimizing friction: Friction from clothing, sheets, or even just moving around in your sleep can cause irritation and disrupt the healing process, leading to scabbing and scarring. By keeping the area protected during sleep, you can minimize friction and promote optimal healing.

  • Maintaining hydration: Keeping the tattoo hydrated while sleeping is important because it can help maintain skin elasticity and reduce the risk of scabbing, scarring, and other complications.

By taking care of your tattoo during sleep, you can help ensure a beautiful and long-lasting result, and reduce the risk of complications or infection. So, if you have a new tattoo, be sure to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist and protect the area while sleeping to ensure the best possible outcome! Here are some of the dos and don’ts and how to sleep comfortably with your new ink!


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The Dos


The first night is often the most difficult. It undoubtedly still aches and continues to flow a decent amount of blood, plasma, and more ink. The best course of action is to leave any healing coverings, such as second skin or saniderm, on for the first night (or the first few if it stays put). Here is a list of dos for optimal healing and sleep!


Keep the tattoo covered

To protect your tattoo from bacteria and other contaminants, be sure to keep it covered with a clean and breathable bandage. You can also use a specialized tattoo cover, such as an adhesive bandage specifically designed for tattoo aftercare. Keeping a new tattoo covered is important for several reasons:

  1. Protection from bacteria: The first few days after getting a tattoo, the skin is more susceptible to infection. Keeping the tattoo covered helps prevent bacteria and other contaminants from coming into contact with the wound, reducing the risk of infection.

  2. Minimizing friction: Friction from clothing or other objects can cause irritation and disrupt the healing process, leading to scabbing and scarring. Covering the tattoo helps minimize friction and promotes optimal healing.

  3. Maintaining hydration: Keeping the tattoo covered helps maintain hydration, which is important for reducing the risk of scabbing, scarring, and other complications.

  4. Avoiding exposure to irritants: Covering the tattoo helps protect it from exposure to irritants, such as the sun, salt water, or harsh chemicals, which can slow down the healing process and cause damage to the skin.

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Sleep on a clean surface

To reduce the risk of infection, be sure to sleep on clean sheets or a freshly laundered pillowcase. Avoid sleeping directly on the tattoo, as the friction from the sheets can disrupt the healing process. Be sure to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist and use a clean pillowcase or bedding to promote a healthy healing process.

Hydrate the tattoo

Keeping the tattoo hydrated is important to reduce the risk of scabbing and scarring, and to promote optimal healing. Apply a thin layer of aftercare ointment or lotion to the tattoo before bed to help maintain hydration.

Follow aftercare instructions

To ensure the best possible outcome, be sure to follow the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist. This may include washing the tattoo, applying ointment or lotion, and avoiding exposure to sun or other irritants.

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The Don'ts


It is important to listen to your tattoo artist regarding aftercare for several reasons. Tattoo artists have extensive experience and training in the care and maintenance of tattoos, making them experts in the field. They know what works and what doesn’t, and can provide you with personalized aftercare instructions based on your individual needs and the specifics of your tattoo. Following the aftercare instructions provided by your tattoo artist can reduce the risk of complications, such as infection, scarring, and discoloration. Not only that, proper aftercare can help your tattoo heal faster, retain its colour and vibrancy, and maintain its overall appearance for years to come!

Removing the bandage

Until your tattoo artist advises otherwise, avoid removing the bandage or exposing the tattoo to air during the night. Doing so can increase the risk of infection and slow down the healing process. The bandage maintains hydration, retains moisture, and is crucial in reducing the risk of scabbing, scarring, and other complications. The bandage also avoids exposure to irritants. It helps protect the tattoo from exposure to irritants, such as the sun, salt water, or harsh chemicals, which can slow down the healing process and cause damage to the skin.

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Scratching or picking at the tattoo

Avoid scratching or picking at the tattoo, as this can disrupt the healing process and increase the risk of scarring or infection. If the tattoo is itchy, apply a light coating of aftercare lotion or use a cool compress to relieve discomfort. Scratching or picking at a tattoo should be avoided for several reasons:

  1. Delaying healing: Scratching or picking can disrupt the healing process and cause scabbing, which can lead to scarring and discoloration.

  2. Increasing risk of infection: Scratching or picking can introduce bacteria and other contaminants into the wound, increasing the risk of infection.

  3. Damaging the skin: Scratching or picking can cause damage to the skin and ink, potentially affecting the appearance of the tattoo.

  4. Slowing down the healing process: Scratching or picking can slow down the healing process, making it take longer for the tattoo to fully heal and settle into the skin.

By avoiding scratching or picking at the tattoo, you can help promote optimal healing and ensure the best possible results for your tattoo. If you experience itching or discomfort, it is recommended to apply a small amount of unscented lotion to the area and avoid direct contact with clothing or other objects that may irritate the skin.

Sleeping directly on the new tattoo

Although it is crucial to look after your tattoo and get plenty of rest, avoid sleeping directly on the tattoo. Pressure can cause irritation and disrupt the healing process. Instead, try sleeping on your back or on the side opposite the tattoo!



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