How to waterproof a tattoo for swimming

How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming? 3 Effective Methods With Guidelines

Tattoos can be one of your most passionate symbols of concepts that bear meaning to you, but such lovely artifacts often come with certain health risks as well. Risks regarding tattoos are usually centered around your skin, more specifically the area you’ve made your tattoo in.

After getting a new tattoo, you may want to go for a swim with friends or family on vacation, or just a casual trip to the ocean. It’s not really a wise thing to do with wounds ready to get infected, and you’d have to go through certain steps to ensure the safety of your tattoo and skin for the long run.

Our article here offers you in-depth knowledge on how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming. The methods mentioned here don’t guarantee that all the risks associated will be mitigated, but rest assured that your chances of infection will be significantly lower. So if you must go swimming, read through the entire article to equip yourself in the best possible way.

Risk Of Swimming With Fresh Tattoo

Risk of swimming with fresh tattoo

Tattoos are basically open wounds, and they should be protected from any sort of external interventions including swimming pools or ocean water. Swimming pools contain a high degree of chlorine which has the potential to damage such wounds due to its aggressive chemical nature. Let’s take a look at how your skin might get into the way of harm by swimming with a fresh tattoo.

  • Chances Of Bacterial Infection

Water bodies often contain a wide variety of bacteria and fungus. When you share one swimming area, there’s a strong chance of getting such contamination from others. Not only that, the open air may also introduce water to these sorts of bacterias.

The National Library of Medicine has identified that there is a big risk of bacterial infection in fresh tattoos, and we assure you that the risk goes even higher if you go swimming in such conditions.

Once you’re in the pool with a fresh tattoo, chances are bacteria and fungus might find their way up to your fresh wounds. And once that happens, you’ll find your skin falling into all sorts of problems. It may be a light to severe infection which can cause permanent damage to your skin.

There require severe medical attention and prolonged treatments to fully heal, and there have been cases where people had to live with permanent scars due to such incidents.

  • Damaging The Tattoo Design

Your precious tattoo design can easily get ruined with a slight seduction for dipping into the pool. Bacterial or other forms of infection can create a root into your tattoo spots since they are basically an open entry beneath your skin.

In such cases, your infection may end up ruining your tattoo and it can become a permanent mark for the rest of your life. In worst scenarios you might even require skin operations to get your skin back to the normal state.

  • Irritation On Skin

Even if there isn’t any infection that can damage your skin, you might still end up with mild to severe irritation after diving into the water with your newly scored tattoo. The chlorine in pools or excessive salt in ocean water has the potential to burn your regular skin, and when it comes to the sensitive bits of tattoos, you’ll be in for a much painful experience afterwards.

Should I Swim With My New Tattoo?

The short answer to this question is – NO! Because a new tattoo means a fresh wound, and it’s highly inadvisable for getting yourself soaked with such punctures on your skin.

Harvard Health has conducted the research and come up with the conclusion that tattoo based infections are apparent in the users and it shows how much of a risk you’re putting yourself in by taking it further in terms of swimming with it.

Despite knowing the risks mentioned above, if you feel you must go swimming whatsoever, you should follow the safety guides below to minimize the risk potential as much as possible. But in short, our recommendation for you is NOT TO SWIM until your scars are fully healed.

Ideal Time For Swimming After Getting Tattooed

Ideal time for swimming after getting tattooed

It’s a very tricky and complex issue regarding the ideal time for swimming with a new tattoo. Different people have their unique metabolism and so their wounds take separate times to heal.

The short answer to this is, you should wait until your scars are fully dried up before you opt for swimming, but the long answer breaks it into a little more detail.

Your tattoo wound might seem like it’s completely healed from the outside, but underneath it may still be raw which won’t be visible to the naked eye. Also, the initial stinging should go away after a week of getting tattooed, but it doesn’t mean it’s ready for some action already.

Some consider between a couple of weeks to a month is sufficient for your wounds to heal completely. But this is the case only if you take proper post-tattoo care regularly. Otherwise, there have been cases where it took almost six months for a tattoo wound to dry up completely.

To make a rough estimation, you should check whether your scars are itching, scabbing, releasing fluid when pressed or colored a bright red. To have a better understanding, it’s always advised to visit your doctor or tattoo clinic for a proper assessment of the situation.

  • Waterproofing Tattoo For Swimming

Tattoos can’t be completely waterproofed since water has its own pressure and constantly moving your body tends to seep water past any protection. You may wonder how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming at this stage.

There are some methods that you can try to waterproof your tattoos to some extent to mitigate the risks of damage as much as possible, and they are as follows:

  • Waterproof Bandages

There are certain products that prevent water from touching your wounds. One such product is a waterproof dressing. Initially, it’s a tattoo aftercare bandage but has the features to keep your tattoo area separated from water.

Saniderm is a prominent choice among tattoo enthusiasts for such purposes. You can put a Saniderm bandage over your sensitive area and dive into the pool with hopes that it’ll work perfectly. Follow our guide on Saniderm application to learn how long you should keep this on before removal.

  • Heavy Layers Of Vaseline

Another method we’ve found out to be quite effective is the Vaseline method. Vaselines are essentially made of wax which has a property of withstanding water and not reacting with it.

Applying thick and dense layers of Vaseline over your tattoo should set you up for a swimming of 2-3 hours. But you must make sure that you don’t accidentally scrape off or rub over the vaseline, because then it might cause exposure to damage.

  • Plastic Press N’ Seal Wrap

There are certain skin sealing products such as the plastic wrap that has a good probability of sealing your tattoo wound. You’ll have to wrap your tattoo area tightly with this and seal it once you feel it’s covered the entire area.

There’s a good side and a bad side to it though. The good thing is that, if the sealing is done properly, it’s the safest method and ensures maximum leakage prevention. The negative thing is that prolonged application may see your skin soared or blood circulation may be hampered to some extent, so pick wisely before you commit to any of these methods.

What To Do After Already Swimming With A New Tattoo?

Taking care of tattoo

If you’ve already done swimming with your freshly made tattoo and are terrified of any infection, hold tight before losing your mind because there’s a solution for everything. If you follow the procedure below, you’ll minimize the maximum risk of infection and save your skin as well as tattoo from harm’s way.

Step 1: Mop

The first thing you should do after swimming with your exposed tattoo is to mop it completely dry. Press gently against the wounds and make sure you remove all the wetness from the scars. Ensuring proper dryness is of utmost importance in this step.

Step 2: Disinfect

After mopping, use a disinfectant lotion, cream or gel to apply on the wounds. You can use disinfectant liquids as well to lightly brush over your tattoos, but it can scab or burn so make sure you’re mentally prepared for that.

Step 3: Keep Safe

Once you’re done with the aforementioned steps, you now have to keep your skin safe, away from sunlight and dust until your scars dry and heal up completely.

Following these procedures should ensure your skin is safe & sound after a swimming session with open tattoo wounds.

You must consult a physician if you see one of these newly formed signs after swimming with your new tattoo: redness in the wounds, bleeding, rashes, stinginess, leaking liquids etc. These are symptoms that your tattoo scar has caught up with infections and require immediate attention.

Post-Tattoo Care Guide

To make sure you don’t get your skin damaged and allow the wounds to heal up properly, you should take a look at our post-tattoo care guide. Following it precisely should enable you to heal up in the quickest amount of time with maximum guarantee of an infection-free curing process.

Initially, you have to put on a bandage at the tattoo area immediately after getting it done. After 24 hours, you should gently remove it and mop the area with warm napkins.

Apply antibacterial cream or Vaseline ointment twice a day, as well as wash it with lukewarm water & soap at the same frequency. Retain the moisture with lotions or moisturizers to avoid pulling during the drying process.

Avoid swimming, direct sunlight and any other harmful interaction with your tattoo area. Keep the tattoo area covered not only during this healing period, but at all times. At utmost necessity, use sunblocks before exposing that area.


Waterproofing your tattoo for swimming is not encouraged by us, we’d rather have you not swim in this delicate situation. If you must, our detailed guide and tricks should spare you a lot of trouble and pain considering you manage to master it perfectly.

We recommend that you give your tattoo wounds proper time for healing. Swimming is a fun activity that you can still postpone for a couple of weeks for the sake of your health & safety. Because one bad infection can make you suffer for even a lifetime.

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