Tattoo Aftercare

How Long After Getting a Tattoo Can You Swim? - Sorry Mom

Some people are convinced that there are loopholes/shortcuts to the general rule that we should wait a few weeks to swim after getting a new tattoo. They want to show off their new piece as soon as possible, so there's no room for the waiting part. But afterwards, that newly-inked skin can potentially become extremely irritated and infected.

Aftercare for your new tattoo is extremely important: keeping your newly tattooed skin away from getting soaked makes a huge difference in the longevity and overall quality of your tattoo. 

So, How Long After Getting a New Tattoo Can You Swim?  

According to The American Academy of Dermatology Association, we should wait at least a month before we can swim, and submerge the tattoo in the water, as our bodies completely replace our skin cells on a monthly-basis. 

It’s important to take the size of your tattoo into consideration. 

Large tattoos

If you got a fairly large tattoo, you may want to wait slightly longer than a month to let your body fully heal.

Small tattoos

If your tattoo is on the smaller-side, you may only need to wait a couple of weeks.

The main takeaway is that you should not swim if your tattoo is still healing

Remember that your skin is still in the healing-process if there is any redness, peeling, or scabbing occurring around the tattoo site.

tattooed man

What happens if you swim with a new tattoo? 

Although it’s pretty rare to get an infection, it’s still a possibility.

We strongly advise you against “shortcuts” such as covering your tattoo with plastic foil or film — there’s really no such thing as fully waterproof. 

Exposure to bacteria

Swimming with a new tattoo invites different bacteria and viruses that live in the water to enter the tiny holes that the needle created during the tattooing process. 

Contact dermatitis

Sounds rather pleasant, doesn't it? Another problem that can arise after swimming with a new tattoo is an unfortunate rash that is called irritant contact dermatitis in the medical world.  

Fading ink

Here’s a long-term problem that can occur when swimming with a new tattoo: the ink on your skin will likely fade if you decide to swim while your tattoo is still healing.

Swimming with a new tattoo is simply counterproductive.

How long after getting a tattoo can you shower? 

As a rule of thumb, you can shower 3-4 hours after getting your new tattoo. You should take extra caution when in the shower, though— avoid getting the tattoo wet directly, and clean it gently and with a fragrance-free soap.

Showers are the best method of bathing when you have a new tattoo as you can control the amount of water that goes directly into the tattooed area. 

Remember to clean your tattoo with lukewarm water.


Learn more about how to clean your tattoo here.

tattooed leg

How long after a tattoo can you swim in chlorine? 

It’s safe to swim in chlorine only after your tattoo is fully healed. After a few weeks, you can inspect your tattoo site to look for any redness, peeling, or flaking.

You are safe to swim in chlorine if there are not any physical signs that your tattoo needs a little more time to breathe.


Here’s the deal: submerging your new tattoo into a pool that is filled with chlorine is basically just asking for a painful healing process.

Your new tattoo is essentially an open wound — any type of chemical that enters that open wound is going to irritate the healing site. 

If you’re still unsure, it’s better to just wait a month before taking a dip in the pool as science suggests that your skin will have regenerated itself within that time frame.

How long after a tattoo can you take a bath?

According to dermatologists, we should wait around 4-5 weeks to get into our bathtub, when your skin has fully recovered. Before that happens, we shouldn't submerge our tattoo at all.

Any type of standing water is much more likely to have bacteria.

Your skin is exposed to a lot of dirt and bacteria throughout the day, and soaking your new tattoo that is still an open wound does a lot more harm than good. 

Here’s the good news for those of you who enjoy relaxing in a bathtub: you can take a bath only if your new tattoo is placed somewhere on your body that you can completely keep from getting wet.

tattooed woman

Swimming in ocean after getting tattooed

Again, it’s important to wait until your skin has fully healed before swimming at all. Not only will the salt heavily irritate your tattoo site, but the UV rays from the sun could also really damage your sensitive skin.

Have you ever heard the common phrase it hurts as badly as salt poured on an open wound? Well, that phrase exists for a reason.

Swimming in the salty ocean with your new tattoo is the equivalent to pouring salt on an open wound.  It’s best to skip the beach day until your new tattoo shows signs of being fully healed.

Final Thoughts

We know how enticing a nice beach day or pool party may sound, but we also know that it’s really not worth the trouble in the end. It’s great to feel excited about your new piece — but we would hate for that excitement (and your ink) to fade because you decided to swim too early after receiving your tattoo. 

It’s best to avoid any type of irritation or infection by choosing not to submerge your new tattoo in water. Allowing your piece to fully heal before choosing to swim will ensure that you have a better healing process overall. 

The decisions that you make during the after-care process will affect the quality and longevity of your new tattoo. The better you take care of it — the better it will look and feel!