Are Back Tattoos Hard To Take Care Of?

Investing in a tattoo is a big and exciting decision. There are so many things to consider, but placement is definitely one of the big ones. Back tattoos can be stunning pieces and make a great impact when you choose to show them off but are back tattoos hard to take care of? While there are a few extra lengths you will have to go to, we think it’s totally worth it if your heart is set on a back tattoo.

Caring for a back tattoo is much the same as any tattoo. Take care to reach the entire piece. Try to avoid abrasive cleaning tools when cleaning your back tattoo. If possible, ask someone you trust to assist with care while the tattoo is healing.

So, you have decided to take the leap and get inked.  You have chosen the most stunning spot for your new piece, and your back is a blank canvas yearning for the masterpiece you have all planned out. While you may have selected your artist and decided on the placement, the question of caring for your tattoo is still one that needs to be addressed. Fear not! We are here to give you all the tips you need to care for your back tattoo.

How Should I Care For My New Tattoo?

Currently, the United States has very little regulation for after tattoo care; however, proper care should be a priority when getting a new piece. If tattoos are left to heal without good care, you could find yourself with an infected or damaged design. We have selected the best advice and tips to help you navigate your new tattoo. Let’s look into general care for new tattoos before we delve more deeply into care for back tattoos specifically.

1.   Coverage

Once your artist has completed your tattoo, be sure to ask them to cover it with petroleum jelly. Most tattoo artists will also supply you with a bandage or a plastic cover to help keep the tattoo hydrated and covered for as long as possible.

2.   Initial Cleaning

After around 24 hours, carefully remove the cover from your tattoo. Gently and slowly wash the area with a mild soap, being careful not to rub or exfoliate the tattoo at all. Softly pat the area dry.

3.   Oil The Machine

You can keep your new tattoo hydrated by applying petroleum jelly or an antibacterial ointment twice a day or so. You will not need another cover at this point. Keep in mind that if clothing or furniture touches or rubs on the area, you will need to re-apply the ointment. Keeping your tattoo hydrated at this stage will help the healing process and result in a clear and bright end result.

4.   Keep It Clean

It’s best to wash, dry, and apply ointment twice a day to keep your tattoo clean and hydrated. Keep up this process for around three to five days, depending on how the healing goes. (If you aren’t sure, longer is probably best.)

How Should I Care For My Back Tattoo?

Caring for a back tattoo is pretty similar to taking care of a tattoo on most other places of your body. The main difference is that your back tattoo may be a little challenging to reach. It is vital that you are able to properly clean and apply lotion to every part of your new back tattoo. For this reason, it could be helpful to have someone you trust to assist you for a few days.

If your tattoo takes up a large part of your back, you will need to be selective of your clothing, how you wear your bag or backpack, how you sit, and how you lie down. Any severe rubbing of the tattoo will result in an interruption to the healing your skin needs to do. It could even leave you with an infection. If you are planning a date to get your tattoo done, consider choosing a time when you won’t need to go out much, to avoid carrying bags, wearing too much clothing over the tattoo, and using public transport.

Suppose your tattoo covers a small area of your back. In that case, whether it is in the lower, middle, or upper section, you may have a little difficulty reaching it to properly wash and apply lotion. If this is the case, definitely consider asking for help to ensure you take good care of your new ink. If you can reach it without trouble, the world is your oyster. Go forth, clean, and moisturize your back tattoo twice a day for around five days.

One problem we occasionally notice for those with upper back tattoos is long hair. If you fall into this category, consider tying your hair up while your tattoo is healing. This will prevent your lovely locks from sticking to the ointment or lotion and slowing down the healing process. (Let’s not even think about the goo that will be trapped in your hair, attracting dust, bugs, etc.!)

This point may be a little obvious, but it is best to sleep on your side or stomach as your back tattoo heals. Do your very best to avoid sleeping on your back as the aim is to keep it untouched as much as possible. Also, refer to the goo in the hair mentioned above… now; imagine that all over your bedsheets.

How Long Does A Back Tattoo Take To Heal?

The general rule is to take extra care with a new back tattoo for three to five days; however, for a tattoo to completely heal takes much longer than that. There are a few stages to the healing of a tattoo. Let’s look at them in a bit of detail:

  1. The initial healing. Your body thinks your tattoo is a wound. It is covered for the first day and may still have redness, oozing, and slight swelling for about a week. This is when you should take extra care to keep it clean, dry, and apply ointment.
  2. The itch. The itch begins around week 2 and lasts for about a week. Your skin may flake a little, and this should be fine as your tattoo ink should stay in place. Avoid scratching the tattoo, no matter how itchy it gets. Keep applying a moisturizer or ointment to relieve the itch a little.
  3. The layer of skin. Next up, you may notice that your tattoo looks a little dull and disappointing, although the itch has eased. This is nothing to worry about. Your body has developed a thin layer of skin over what it thinks is a wound, and this will rub off in no time. This phase should take you to around a month after getting your tattoo. If you notice redness, oozing, and pain during this stage, your tattoo could be infected, and you need to seek help.
  4. The future is bright. Your tattoo should be fully healed and looking glorious from the second month on.  Keep up with the ointment, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen to keep your ink looking its best.


Back tattoos can be brilliant statement pieces, part of an ongoing design, or something small and intimate. Whichever category yours fits into, be sure to take care of it.  Like all tattoos, taking care of a back tattoo is only intense for a few days. After that, sunscreen should keep it looking bright and keep you safe from burning. One of the main challenges of caring for a new back tattoo is being able to reach it.  Get some help in the early days and enjoy your tattoo for years to come.


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