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How Do I Choose the Best Tattoo Bandage?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 21, 2024
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Choosing a tattoo bandage is normally a chore for a tattoo artist. Typically, tattoo artists use non-adhesive gauze bandages or bandages with a plastic film. An elastic dressing retainer may be used to hold the gauze in place if the tattoo is on an arm or leg. Although generally not recommended, if the patron must use a bandage, the best tattoo bandage is one that will not stick to the skin and allows for good airflow.

In terms of tattoo bandage choices for tattoo studios, several factors should be considered. Primarily, a tattoo bandage should absorb seepage, including blood, excess ink, and plasma. Any bandage used should also offer some padding between the sensitive skin and clothing, for the comfort of the patron. Bandages, including any adhesive products used to apply the bandage, should not contain latex. Allergies to latex and materials containing latex are common.

Suppliers offer numerous choices for tattoo bandages, including standard gauze, coated gauze, non-woven gauze, and plastic film. Additional options, such as elastic dressing retainers, provide even further options. Since the bandage is only meant to be worn for a few hours, provided it does not stick to skin or contain latex, the choice of which tattoo bandage to use is a matter of personal preference. Of greater importance is the choice of ointments and instructions for aftercare regarding proper cleaning and dressing.

For patrons, new tattoos require a certain degree of care and attention for the first few weeks, at least until the skin heals. Each tattoo artist or tattoo studio makes recommendations for aftercare based on experience, with some variations on how to preserve the color and appearance of a new tattoo. As a general rule, most artists recommend against using a tattoo bandage beyond the first few hours after completion. Immediately following the completion of a tattoo, however, a bandage is necessary to absorb seepage, protect against bacteria, and provide a protective layer against irritation from clothing.

Most tattoo artists recommend that the initial tattoo bandage be removed after a few hours. After removal, the most common recommendation is to leave the tattoo unbandaged to allow it to breathe. Should a tattoo bandage be required to protect clothing or keep the tattoo out of direct sunlight, the best option is non-adhesive gauze. Gauze will absorb excess seepage, prevent clothing from rubbing, and keep out any sunlight. Proper care should be taken to coat the tattoo with the appropriate ointment before applying a bandage, to keep the skin from drying out.

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Discussion Comments
By stoneMason — On Jun 21, 2013

@ankara-- Using liquid bandage on a tattoo is a terrible area. The best bandage for a tattoo allows the tattoo to breathe so that it can heal. A liquid bandage will suffocate it.

By burcidi — On Jun 20, 2013

@ankara-- I used a bandage with plastic film when I got my tattoo and it worked just fine. I don't think it's a good idea to change the bandage on your own because you can cause damage to the tattoo and cause it to lose ink or become blurry.

Please let your tattoo artist take care of this for you. If the bandage has to be changed, he or she should change it. Your tattoo artist must have recommended a lotion to you. Until you can see your artist about the bandage, you can probably apply some lotion to the tattoo to keep the gauze from sticking.

By bluedolphin — On Jun 20, 2013

I have a gauze bandage on my tattoo. It absorbs everything well but the problem is that the gauze is sticking to the scab. When it's time to change the bandage, my skin hurts and I'm scared that I will pull off dead skin and cause bleeding.

Should I switch to a bandage with plastic film?

Also, has anyone used liquid bandage on tattoos? I'm guessing that's not a very good idea, right?

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