How to Waterproof a Tattoo for Swimming? 

So, here’s the agreement; you just got a fresh tattoo, and with summer around the nook, you may as well be wondering whether you can go for a swim. We all know that recent tattoos and water don’t go concurrently; your tattoo artist must have had a cautionary chat about the hazards of immersing a new tattoo underwater.

And now, here we are; you’re working out your investigation about a waterproof tattoo cover for swimming, because, let’s be honest, we all can’t wait for summer to enter so we can use up our long, hot days under at the beach taking wonderfully cooling dips in the brine.

Since we completely recognize your efforts, we’ve chosen to jot down a quick guide to safeguard your tattoo from water, as well as chat about some teachings regarding fresh tattoos and swimming overall. So, without additional fuss, let’s get right into this!

Why is it dangerous to swim with a new tattoo?

swim with a new tattoo
Image source: Healthline

Allowing your tattoo time to recover before swimming is just as important for your health as it is for your new body art. Here’s what can emerge if you swim with a fresh tattoo that hasn’t fully recovered.

Risk of infection

Aside from delicate washing, immersing in recently tattooed skin isn’t suggested, mostly because of the danger of infection.

Like with any naked wound — which is practically what a fresh tattoo is — immersing your tattoo could potentially uncover too dangerous bacteria in the water. Infections can wander from mild to serious.

Though unusual, sepsis and demise are a possibility. The danger may be lower in the heavily chlorinated water of a swimming pool than in clear water, like a lake or ocean, but chlorine doesn’t eliminate all the bacteria.

Damage to your tattoo

Rinsing your new tattoo could also result in fading and scarring. Chlorine and salt water are particularly tough on new tattoos because both can leach ink from a tattoo, giving rise to the colour being less vibrant.

Swimming can also dry up your skin and prolong recovery, leading to further itching, flaking, and scabbing. This can also result in fading, patchiness, and blurred lines.

Skin irritation

Some skin irritation is to be predicted with a fresh tattoo anyway. And it doesn’t sound almost as bad as a gnarly infection or destroying your new and pricey art. But skin irritation can provide both those hazards, not to speak of being uncomfortable.

Recently tattooed skin is already raw and uncomfortable. Uncovering it in chlorine and other chemicals can lead to stinging and discomfort, and may induce irritant contact dermatitis. This occurs when chemicals like chlorine enter the skin and trigger a rash.

The outcome is a red itchy rash that may be supported by blistering, naked sores, crusting, and bulging — all of which can impact how your tattoo appears down the line.

How to prepare before going into the water?

Summer is the ideal time to put on your swimsuits and show off some skin. Yet, it’s not the perfect time for swimming with raw ink. If you have a fresh tattoo, this implies your skin is still sore and sensitive, like a naked wound.

So, ideally, the only moment it should get moist is when you’re tidying up the area around it or taking a shower. Specialists recommend you prevent doing any sort of water activity until your skin heals. Though, there might come a moment when you entirely must go swimming during this period. Maybe you have physical treatment, rehab, or you have to deal with an accident.

Whatever the purpose, you’ll be pleased to know that there are a few provisional fixes to this difficulty. One example is using plastic wrap as a waterproof tattoo wrap for swimming, another is using medical sealant as a waterproof tattoo cover for swimming. Keep reading for further suggestions on how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming.

1. Wrap The Tattoo In Plastic Wrap

It may sound silly, but tattoo artists suggest wrapping your ink with plastic wraps, like Saran Wrap.

It works great on an initial couple of nights of napping with your new ink, and it’s also a simple way to keep tattoos fine and dry. Keep in mind to apply a slim coating of lotion or mild moisturizer first. Then, set a layer of gauze or a paper towel. Concurrently, they form an airtight boundary to support you to absorb the amount of moisture that can seep in and protect your inked skin. 

In brief, it’s a favourable way to lessen the risk of illnesses and enable boosting the recovery process. That said, the less you consume plastic coats as a tattoo cover for swimming, the better. Keep in mind that for your skin to return to its natural form, it needs to breathe, which it can’t do if it’s covered.

2. Seal The Plastic With A Medical Sealant

A medical adhesive is a type of surgical paste used by doctors to mend injuries. This brings them a no-hassle treatment when waterproofing fresh tattoos. It’s simple to apply, and the useful part is that it functions in 30 seconds or shorter, which is pretty fast.

Apply 3–4 coats each day for even coverage. Then, after nearly 7–10 days, the glue will fall off on its own. That should provide the skin duration to repair while maintaining the quality of the tattoo.

3. Safer Alternatives of Using Vaseline

Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, isn’t something you should try as part of your tattoo aftercare. For one, it obstructs airflow and locks in moisture. In addition, it binds mud and bacteria, which can lead to skin discomfort.

A good massage of the vaseline on the tattoo for swimming can also serve the purpose of waterproofing your inked skin to some extent.

However, there are also several alternative choices for using Vaseline to waterproof your skin art, like the ones inscribed below:

  • Coconut oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Shea butter
  • Skin cream particularly made for tattoo aftercare
  • Alcohol-free, fragrance-free skin moisturizers, like Eucerin or Lubriderm

The favourable way to apply any of these options is after gently rinsing and cleaning your skin. Then, apply a slim layer over the tattoo about 3–4 times each day.

4. Be Careful With Your Tattoo Immediately After Your Swim

Imagine that you couldn’t withstand the desire and just had to go swimming. What do you do afterwards to maintain your ink and restrain your skin to be healthy and free from inflammations?

Notice that the longer the tattoo is coated, the longer it’ll take to get better. So, make sure you remove the dressing instantly after getting out of the water. Clean the dressing with lukewarm water and pat dry. Then, gently wipe it out then clean your skin with delicate soap or antibacterial soap and water. Finally, get your skin a final pat down with a smooth, tidy towel.

As a final protection, apply healing ointment or skin lotion to enable you to decrease skin inflammation. They can also help maintain your tattoo’s design and tone.

You already went to the water? These will help

Did you go swimming with new ink and didn’t take any protection? Worry not!

Some redness, tenderness, and peeling are common in the first pair of days after getting a tattoo. But if this stuff continues or worsens, it could reflect an issue.

See your tattoo artist if you discover indications of tattoo degradation, like bubbling, which occurs when a fresh tattoo remains wet for too long. Vanishing and scarring are also probable. See a healthcare professional straight away if you acquire any indications and signs of a disorder, including:

  • continued or aggravating redness
  • redness that’s stretching out from the tattoo
  • skin that senses heated to the touch
  • pain that’s serious or worsening
  • rash or blistering
  • naked sores on and around your tattoo
  • foul release or pus from the tattoo
  • bleeding
  • sickness
  • chills

What else to avoid when you get a new tattoo?

A tattoo has a lot more significance than just being a piece of art. In other words, you can say it is a way to assert one’s style. Besides, it is also considered a medical procedure too since the artist ink the design underneath your skin with a needle. Thus, making your skin vulnerable to infections and scarring.

Therefore, it is vital to take proper care of your tattoo to prevent any further complications and ensure that the tattoo heals properly. Figuring out how to care for your tattoo can be tricky, but not with us. Here is a list of a few things that you must avoid when you get a new tattoo.

Direct exposure to sunlight

When you get a new tattoo, its healing depends upon the sensitivity of your skin and the quality of the tattoo ink. But the exposure to a new tattoo in direct sunlight can lead to complications.

Understandably, your profession, environment or the climate you live in might not permit you to completely avoid the outdoors or cover up your body and keep it away from sunlight. Therefore, we suggest you apply a generous amount of tattoo-specific sunblock with 30+ SPF every time you step outside. Also, make sure to carry the sunblock with you for reapplication of the product without a miss!

Wearing tight-fitting clothes

It is important to let your body breathe especially in the parts where you have newly inked. Tight clothing is mostly body hugging and can negatively impact the airflow leading to sweating, chafing and rubbing.

Make sure you avoid activewear, that aims to eliminate moisture away from your skin and keep you sweat-proof during exercise or outdoor activities.

If you live in a warm or hot climate, try wearing loose-fitting cloth that doesn’t stick to your skin. And if you live in a cold climate and you need to stay warm, try to choose breathable fabric such as cotton to allow your skin to breathe better and promote moisture flow.

Intake of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol

It is highly recommended to avoid the intake of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol altogether after getting a new tattoo, to minimize any skin issues and maximize your opportunity to stay healthy.

Try to hydrate your body and skin by sufficient intake of water and applying recommended moisturiser. Besides, try to stick with moderation as much as possible. That said, avoid partying too hard and too long, avoid food with high saturated fats and oils and last but not least, wash your hands thoroughly to avoid infections.


This is dependent on the part of the body you have got your new tattoo. If your freshly inked tattoo is in a part where you would normally shave, such as the underarms, legs, scalp, face or arms, avoid shaving until it’s fully healed.

Scraping over a new tattoo with a razor is not a brilliant idea. Instead, it makes your skin even more vulnerable. So by scraping off healing scabs before they’re ready to come off you could enable a range of other irritants while the skin heals.

It is recommended to start shaving again about a month into the healing process after the scabs fall off without assistance and the linework is completely shed.

Using medicated ointment

Applying medicated products, like Neosporin and Bacitracin could cause the body to reject it or heal too quickly, resulting in allergic reactions. This could involve damaging skin with a significant rash or even a series of tiny red marks.

The patch of skin that has gone through several needles pricking over and over requires oxygen with a thin layer of moisturization to heal in the best way possible. But usually, some medicated ointment properties have adverse effects on tattoos since it works by blocking the moisture content within the wound while keeping oxygen at bay.


We understand that it is extremely tempting to just show off your new tattoo and go swimming right away. But, having a little tolerance for something that has just been ‘carved’ into your membrane to last you a lifetime should be common knowledge. 

It’s important to be thoughtful and plan your tattoos wisely; if you prefer to go for a swim during summer, then try not to get your tattoo a month or two before the vacation season; rather get it done during autumn or winter so that it can completely heal just at the moment for a good, exciting swim.

It is never a good idea to swim with a newly done tattoo for one very crucial reason; It might mess up your healing process and cause damage to that particular patch of skin. Additionally, it also elevates the risk of infection. But now that you have learned how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming you are on the safe side. So, up for a pool party with friends?


Is it okay to swim with a week-old tattoo?

No, a week-old tattoo is too vulnerable and not completely healed to be exposed. As Forte says, 

“Any new tattoo is essentially a fresh wound, and needs time to heal without being exposed to the elements,”. This includes protecting it from the sun, chemicals, pollution, bacteria and water; especially when it comes to swimming.

How do you know when your tattoo is healed?

The healing process of a tattoo varies from person to person and the design of the tattoo. But usually, it takes about 15-20 days for a tattoo to heal. However, it may take up to 4 weeks or more for that inked skin to fully recover. During this period you might encounter a lot of skin complications which can be avoided by ensuring certain precautions.

Can I put sunscreen on a tattoo?

It is suggested not to use any product on a new tattoo and avoid direct sun exposure by covering your body. But, it is completely fine to use sunscreen on a tattoo once after it’s healed. You can also use professionally suggested tattoo-specific sunscreen on your inked skin to keep complications at bay.