I am all in favor of getting tattooed to commemorate a great trip or just get inked in spur of the moment when you are on the road. Having done that thrice already, I have absolutely no regrets and interesting stories behind each of the masterpieces. However, there are many things I didn’t know before my first tattoo and it is surely nice to have some know-how about tattoo aftercare especially when on the road or flying.
My first tattoo was made in Goa, second in Nepal and the third and most recent one (just last month) in Vietnam. Every time I learnt something new and even though getting inked is always a great experience, lack of knowledge can cause infections, fading or permanent skin damage.
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What You Should Know Before Getting a Tattoo While Traveling
So, here’s what I learnt from countless articles online as well as my own experiences.
Okay so I only got to know about diet restrictions after reading the tattoo after care instructions of my third tattoo. Prior to which, I didn’t even know that you need to avoid seafood, corn, sticky rice and morning glory for atleast a week. Now, considering my first tattoo was done on the beaches of Goa, I totally ruined it by binge eating seafood. This might cause tattoos to bulge a bit and fade early (which did happen with my Chinese symbol ink on right arm). Thankfully, we all know better now – so if you are at a beach destination or any place you might be wanting to eat these things, get inked on the last day or at the least avoid these foods.
Avoid Exposure to Sun
Sun is the number one tattoo killer. Exposure to direct sunlight can cause permanent scarring and skin damage on the tattooed area. So keep it out of the sun – beaches are perhaps the worst destinations to get inked for this very reason.. unless its your last day.
Keep your Tattoo Clean
Doing this on the road can be tricky but as long as you clean it with water (Always wash your hands before touching your tattoo) and apply A&D ointment 2-3 times a day, it should be fine. Also note that anything touching the tattoo should be clean too – for example the bedsheets and covers in your hotel room!
No Tight Clothes
On vacation and want to flaunt your skinny jeans and tight tops. Well, depending on the location of your tattoo, avoid any contact with clothes that won’t let your tattoo breathe. So if you got inked on the leg, wear loose pajamas, if its the back – lose white summer tees and so on.
Don’t get inked on the Back if you are well..Backpacking
Got your backpack while you travel around – Well, then don’t get a back tattoo. Remember your tattoo is a wound and you need to treat it as such. Even though its a pretty wound, its still an open would and your body will react to the trauma. It doesn’t help to add weight else it might stick to your clothing/backpack making it infected or worse.
Stay out of Water
No swimming in the ocean, exercises that cause excessive sweating or even shower with soap/shampoo over the inked area, for first few days. Washing with a mild anti bacterial soap whilst applying a thin layer of A&D ointment can do the trick. Lightly dab it dry with a clean soft cloth after shower.
Don’t Touch your Tattoo
You might be tempted to touch or scratch it after few days when it starts peeling. It can be quite itchy and annoying but just let it be. You don’t want permanent marks or infections by peeling off the layer – even if its a tiny bit. Leave it and it will fall off naturally.
It is normal for your tattoo to bleed, ooze pus or even swell up – its an injury and you need to take good care of it – whether you are on the road or at home. Tattoos can take upto a month to fully heal from inside and if you are not ready to take these precautions or stay away from soaking the sun, taking a dip in the sea or enjoying seafood, it might not be a good idea to get inked on the road. You can always get a tattoo done when you are back home.