When Can You Take the Plunge? Swimming After Your Tattoo

Your tattoo is not only a beautiful piece of art but also a reflection of your personal story. However, after getting inked, many people have a common question, “When can you take the plunge? Swimming after your tattoo?”.

In this article, we will discuss the important factors you should consider before going for a swim after getting a tattoo, how long you need to wait, and how to take care of your tattoo while enjoying swimming activities.

Why You Shouldn’t Rush to the Water

Getting inked requires breaking the skin, which creates an open wound. When the tattoo artist completes the tattoo, they cover the area with a bandage to protect it from infections.

However, the tattoo also needs time to heal properly. Swimming in the water can be dangerous for your new tattoo and can cause damage to the ink and surrounding skin. Following are some reasons why you should wait before diving into the water:

1. Water-Borne Bacteria and Germs

Swimming pools, oceans, lakes, and hot tubs can harbor various germs, bacteria, and microorganisms, which can cause infections in your new tattoo. These bacteria can enter the skin through the pores, small cuts or abrasions, causing redness, swelling, and pus discharge. It can be dangerous for your health, and it can damage the beauty of your tattoo.

2. Bleeding and Scabbing

Submerging your new tattoo in water can cause bleeding and scabbing, which can damage the tattoo design, causing it to look blurry or smudged. As a result, your tattoo may require touch-ups or even complete redoing, adding extra cost and time to the whole process.

3. Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of swimming on your tattoo can vary. Overexposure to chlorine, saltwater, or UV rays can fade your tattoo ink and make it look dull or patchy. It can also cause the skin to dry out and flake off, which can lead to slower healing times.

When Can You Take the Plunge?

Once you get a new tattoo, you should avoid swimming for at least two weeks, or until your tattoo is entirely healed. However, the healing time varies from person to person and depends on the size, location, and complexity of the tattoo. Besides, your personal health condition and immune system also play a vital role in the recovery process.

The following are the different stages of tattoo healing, which can help determine when you can swim comfortably without risking your tattoo’s health and beauty:

  • The First Week: During the first week, your tattoo may produce fluid and plasma, making you feel itchy and sore. You may also see redness and scabs over the tattooed area. This is the time when you need to avoid swimming completely.
  • The Second Week: During the second week, your tattoo may start to dry out and peel, and the scabs may fall off. However, your tattoo may still be sensitive and vulnerable to bacteria and germs.
  • The Third Week and Beyond: By the third week, your tattoo will likely be in the final healing stage, and the ink will be stable. However, it would help if you continued to avoid hot tubs, swimming pools, and oceans to protect your tattoo from bacteria and prevent fading and damage.

How to Take Care of Your Tattoo While Swimming?

If you cannot wait to get into the water, and swimming is a must for you, you can take some steps to prevent damage to your tattoo. Following are some tips that will help you keep your tattoo healthy and beautiful while swimming:

1. Cover Your Tattoo

Covering your tattoo is an effective way to prevent exposure to bacteria and other harmful elements. However, you should use waterproof adhesive dressings or bandages to wrap your tattoo carefully. The dressing should be changed often to prevent water from getting trapped, which can overhydrate your tattoo and cause problems.

2. Avoid Sun Exposure

Sun exposure can also damage your tattoo and cause it to fade. Therefore, it is essential to avoid direct sun exposure on the tattooed area while swimming. Use a high SPF sunscreen that is safe for use on tattoos, and reapply it regularly during your swimming activities.

3. Rinse With Freshwater

Rinsing your tattoo with freshwater as soon as you finish your swimming activities can help remove chlorine, salt, germs, or bacteria. Use a gentle soap or cleanser to clean the tattoo, then pat it dry with a clean towel.

4. Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is essential for the overall health of your skin and body. Staying hydrated can help speed up the healing process of your tattoo, making it less vulnerable to damage and fading due to swimming strains.


Swimming is a fun and healthy activity that is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. However, you should wait before taking the plunge after getting a new tattoo. Waiting for your tattoo to heal properly and taking the necessary precautions while swimming can help protect your tattoo, maintain its beauty, and avoid infections or damages.

List of Common Questions and Answers

  • Q. Can I swim after two days of getting a tattoo? A. No, you should not swim for at least two weeks or until your tattoo is entirely healed to avoid infections, bleeding, or scabbing.
  • Q. How long after getting a tattoo can I go to the beach? A. You should avoid swimming in the ocean, lakes, or hot tubs for at least two weeks after getting a new tattoo.
  • Q. Can I wear sunscreen on my tattoo while swimming? A. Yes, you should wear a high SPF sunscreen to avoid direct sun exposure on the tattooed area.
  • Q. Should I cover my tattoo while swimming? A. Yes, covering your tattoo with waterproof adhesive dressings or bandages is an effective way to prevent bacteria and other harmful elements.
  • Q. Can swimming damage or fade my tattoo? A. Yes, overexposure to chlorine, saltwater, or UV rays can fade your tattoo ink and make it look dull or patchy.


  • Haley, R., & Murphy, P. (2017). Tattooing and sports participation: an integrative approach to wound management. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 10(11), 26–32.
  • Gavrila, D., & Zamfir Chiru, A. (2020). Swimming and Tattoos: A Comprehensive Study on Body Art Care for Sportspeople. Postmodern Openings, 11(1), 107–124.
  • Espinosa-Mora, J. E., & Diaz, A. (2020). Massage therapy for the recovery of a tattoo. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies, 24(4), 132–136.

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