How Long After Getting A Tattoo Can You Swim

How Long After Getting A Tattoo Can You Swim

Have you got a tattoo recently and want to flaunt it at the beach or pool in swimwear? 

Wait! If the tattoo is fresh, there are some restrictions, especially when you are thinking of soaking in salt or pool water. If you wonder how long after a tattoo you can swim, here are all your answers.

Keep reading!

Healing Process of Tattoos

Once you decide to get a tattoo, you need to select a perfect design and colors and find the right tattoo artist. No matter how demanding it may seem, once done, the next struggle is about the tattoo aftercare.

It is very important to give the tattoo time to heal properly. It may take from 2 to 4 weeks, and till then, you need to follow all the aftercare instructions given by the tattoo artist, which also involves avoiding swimming.

What Happens If You Swim While Your Tattoo Is Healing?

Tattoos require time to heal, and swimming before waiting the recommended time can alter your body art. If the tattoo hasn’t healed properly, there are chances of the following-

1. Increased Risk Of Infection

Soaking in water for long hours increases the chances of infection at the site of the tattoo. It is mainly because your tattoo is nothing less than an open wound until it heals (1). 

Just like a wound is advised not to be immersed in water, so does a new tattoo. Doing so will expose the area to the microbes and pathogens present in the water, making it susceptible to getting infection. These infections could be mild or severe, depending upon the microbe infestation and how your body responds to it. 

Even though the chances of sepsis and death are rare, we cannot rule out them completely. There has been a case when a man contracted the flesh-eating bacteria Vibrio vulnificus after swimming in water with a fresh tattoo (2). 

Even if you take a dip into a pool that usually has chlorinated water, there are chances because chlorine doesn’t kill all types of bacteria. If you are heading for a beach, make sure not to dive with a new tattoo. After all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

2. Tattoo Damage 

Since you have a permanent tattoo, we believe that you want to retain its ink and preserve its appearance. 

But, if you neglect its aftercare and soak in the pool or beach, there are chances that it may fade and discolor. Water in the ocean contains salt, and water in the pool is infused with chlorine. Both these have the capability to leach ink from the tattoo, making it less vibrant. 

Besides this, staying in water for long hours also makes the skin dry and flaky. Again, it is a big NO for a fresh tattoo as it prolongs the healing time. Moreover, it may cause fading, patchiness, and blurred lines on the skin. 

3. Skin Irritation  

A little irritation and inflammation in the skin after getting a tattoo is expected. Since a fine needle has made multiple small piercings on the skin, there is no wonder it gets irritated. However, it is temporary and resolves over time. 

At the same time, the freshly tattooed skin is raw and sensitive to exposure. Chlorine from pools, salt in the ocean, and other irritants can worsen this irritation, especially when these components penetrate the skin (3). 

As a result, red, itchy, and rash on the skin, accompanied by blisters, sores, crusts, and swelling, are common. All of these reduce the way your new tattoo would have looked. Therefore, taking all the preventive measures is very important.

So, the question arises: how long after a tattoo you can swim?

In general, it is advised to avoid swimming for at least 2 to 3 weeks and give enough time for the tattoo to heal. However, if you still need to swim, taking certain preventive measures can help retain the tattoo’s ink and appearance.

Protecting Your New Tattoo While Swimming

Protecting Your New Tattoo While Swimming

Sometimes, due to certain reasons like therapy, you may need to submerge in water for long hours. In such cases, taking the following preventive measures can help-

1. Apply A Waterproof Dressing 

Waterproof dressings come for open wounds and are used when you need to put the body part in water. Such dressings can be used to get into the water without causing harm to your tattoo. Such dressings come in varying sizes, and you can use them as per your tattoo’s size. 

Apply it just before getting into the water and remove it immediately after coming out. Ensure to cover the tattoo completely. Since keeping any healing area covered can prolong healing time, an immediate removal is important.

2. Pat Kin Dry

Once you are done with soaking in water, come out and pat the skin dry, especially the area surrounding the waterproof dressing. Now, remove it slowly without dripping any water over the tattoo. 

Now gently wash the tattoo with mild soap and water and use a paper towel to dry the skin.

What Happens If You Swim Without Taking Preventive Measures

If you have entered the water without taking any precautions, fret not. It’s not deadly and won’t cause any harm to your health. However, keep an eye on your tattoo and look for some unusual signs that can indicate infection. These are-

  • Increasing redness and spreading in the surrounding skin 
  • Skin feels hot and tender to the touch 
  • Severe pain in the tattooed area
  • Rashes and blisters 
  • Open sores around the tattoo
  • Foul smell and pus discharge from the tattoo
  • Bleeding 
  • Fever and chills 

These are some common telltale signs that indicate the tattoo has become infected. 

How Long Will It Take For A Tattoo To Heal?

How long will it take for a tattoo to heal

Tattoo healing takes time. It may look healed superficially, but it requires more time to heal from within. 

Usually, tattoo artists consider a period of 2 to 4 weeks for complete healing, but it also depends upon the size and location of the tattoo. If made in sensitive areas or if the skin is sensitive, tattoos may take as long as six months to heal completely.  

If you want to ensure that the tattoo has healed completely, you may visit the same tattoo artist to know its condition. 


Swimming immediately after getting a tattoo is a big NO for many good reasons. It will impair healing and can ruin your body art. At the same time, the site of a tattoo may get infected, causing more problems. 

Therefore, either wait patiently for at least two weeks to enter the pool or take every preventive measure to reduce the chances of any uncertainty. 

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