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Ask Better Tattooing: How Do I Protect a Healing Tattoo While Working A Labor Job?

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Welcome to another Ask Better Tattooing, and today we have a great question: how do I protect a healing tattoo while working a physical labor job outside?

How To Take Care of a Tattoo if You Work A Labor Job.

What Is the Best Way to Protect a Fresh Tattoo?

Step one is always going to be having effective aftercare instructions. Rather than listen to your artist (I know, that is a bold claim), read our article about taking care of a tattoo first. You can find it by following this link: Tattoo Aftercare

After You Have Your Aftercare Figured Out, You Can Make a Bandage.

Don’t over-moisturize, don’t keep bandaging it, don’t try to care for it more than it needs. The first trick to keep that tattoo safe is to create a special washable dressing that won’t cost you any money. It will even add a little cushion to protect against bumps and is breathable! This was developed by a client of mine 20 years ago and has worked for thousands that followed him:

  1. Take two tube socks.
  2. Flip them inside out.
  3. Cut off the toes with a pair of scissors.
  4. Pull one sock over your lightly and freshly moisturized tattoo before starting work.
  5. If your tattoo is large, get big socks or use multiple to cover the entire area. Be sure not to overlap the socks!

Keep this on during the early day, until around your lunchtime. Once lunchtime hits, you can remove it.

Should you Remove the Bandage to Clean the Tattoo?

If your job is dirty, dusty, or if the sock covering gets wet, you will need to change it out. Removal of the covering needs to be done differently, depending on what your tattoo looks/feels like. Before attempting this, be sure to wash your hands! To remove the tattoo covering:

  1. If you have thick or flaky scabs – Roll the tube sock backward down your arm until you can pull it off.
  2. If the tattoo is new (~2–3 days old) – scrunch the sock off gently by lifting and gathering the material bit by bit. Then take it off.
  3. If your tattoo is nearly healed with no scabbing – Pull the sock off, paying attention to not get it caught on any residual scabbing/flakes.
peeling tattoo on an arm
(Photo by Sharyn MorrowCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

If you need to wash the tattoo because it is dirty, you can do so now if potable water is nearby. If you work construction or another outdoor job, use bottled water instead of the company water jug. Don’t worry if you don’t have any soap. Just getting the dust off is good enough for the wound to heal. Once you finish cleaning it, replace the dirty sock with its match by repeating the first three steps.

What To Do When You Get Home.

Once your day is finished, you can repeat part 2 and take a shower if necessary. Be sure to wash your tattoo with whatever soap you normally use, but not a rag/cloth/puff/loofah. Just your clean hand. Air-dry the tattoo after getting out of the shower and apply enough moisturizer to cover that entire section of your body, not just the tattoo.

Does This Method Work for Every Healing Tattoo?

This method works well for those who work labor jobs, not those who sit around the office. If you are one of the unlucky people to end up sitting in a cubical all day, you can relax. Taking care of your tattoo is as easy as the comfort-plus chair you relax into every day at work! Regardless, basic tattoo aftercare is essential to a good-looking healed tattoo. We have written about it extensively. Here are some links if you want to learn more: (Image taken from SaRita LaMermaidCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Extras.

We have a YouTube channel that breaks down commonly asked tattoo questions. You can find it by following this link: Better Tattooing YouTube Channel As always, we appreciate feedback:

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