The first thing to remember about your tattoo is that this is a lifetime investment! Do not rely on information from friends about the care of your new tattoo. The artist will provide you with the proper care for the tattoo.
Generally, if your tattoo has been bandaged, leave it on for approximately two hours. Then, wash it gently with luke-warm water using antibacterial soap. Pat it dry, do not rub. This washing should occur three to four times a day. Do no apply another bandage to the tattoo. Allow it to be exposed to air. This will help the healing process. Also, try to avoid tightly fitted clothing. Clean, loose clothing will be the best. After washing, apply very thing coasts of Bacitracin or A&D Ointment and work it into the skin. Do not over apply. Apply just enough so that the tattoo appears shiny. If you can see the ointment on your skin, you are using too much. Do not soak the tattoo in water or let the shower directly spray hard onto it. Also, avoid swimming pools, the ocean, hot tubs or any other source of water, aside from the shower, until the tattoo is healed. Also avoid getting the new tattoo sunburned until it is healed. All of these can fade the tattoo and hinder the healing process. When the tattoo begins the healing process, do not directly scratch the tattoo. Itching means healing and a little bit of alcohol will relieve the itch. Also, do not pick the scabs that may form. Let them fall off gradually. This will usually happen in one to three weeks.
If swelling or redness occurs, you can use ice packs to help the swelling go down.
Most importantly, notify a doctor if you have even the slightest sign of infection.
The healing process can be as little as one week or as long as six weeks or more depending on the size and complexity of your particular design.