Can You Touch A Fresh Tattoo?

Looking at the gorgeous new piece of art on your body, it’s difficult not to run your fingers over the new ink you’re constantly admiring. Trust me; I’ve been there. You know not to scratch or peel at your tattoo, as tempting as it is because it could ruin your new ink, but surely a quick touch won’t do any harm. But it is always best to double-check, thus, begging the question: can you touch a fresh tattoo?

Fresh tattoos are open wounds and are incredibly vulnerable to infection, so it is advised to avoid any contact with the area. Ideally, you should only touch a fresh tattoo with thoroughly cleaned hands and only touch it when necessary to prevent any irritation.

If your new tattoo is in an easily visually accessible place, then there’s no doubt you’re showing all your friends the real thing and not just a picture. Whether they mean to or not, people are going to find themselves reaching out to the piece of art, making it your responsibility to stop others, and yourself, from touching the tattoo for various reasons.

Can You Touch A Fresh Tattoo?

Seeing someone touch their new tattoo, or someone else’s, isn’t an uncommon occurrence, but much like with a new piercing, it is a terrible idea. Tattoos are open wounds and make that area of your skin extremely vulnerable to any kind of infection.

If you, or anyone, want to touch a fresh tattoo, it is an absolute necessity that your hands are sanitized. Freshly cleaned hands are your best bet to avoid infecting the area. That being said, handle the tattoo with care and treat it gently.

When You Can And Can’t Touch Your Fresh Tattoo

Of course, you’re not going to avoid contact with your tattoo all throughout the healing process. There will be times when you must touch the raw skin to administer aftercare and other possible treatments.

  • Washing: Your tattoo will need to be washed twice a day to get rid of any sweat or bacterial build-ups on the skin. Use an antibacterial, fragrance-free soap and hot water, but don’t use a loofa because of their scratchy nature, and don’t rub your tattoo with a towel.
  • Moisturizing: Using a tattoo artist-approved ointment, lotion, or cream, moisturize your tattoo after washing it. Make sure your hands are clean, and delicately rub the ointment over the area.

Generally, you shouldn’t be touching your tattoo outside of your aftercare routine.

There’s more than one thing that classifies as ‘touching’ your tattoo, and they’re pretty much all a bad idea. Most of the time, the following actions can lead to infection, hinder the healing process, or even damage and mess up your tattoo.

  • Scratching: During the healing period, it is likely that your tattoo will feel incredibly itchy, but you need to avoid scratching it as best you can.
  • Slapping: Now that you know you can’t scratch your tattoo, you probably think sneaking a little slap to combat the itchiness is okay. It definitely isn’t recommended. Slapping a healing tattoo can blow out the lines.
  • Peeling: When your tattoo finally starts peeling, it can be tempting to pick and peel at your skin, but you need to let the scabs fall off on their own accord or risk ruining your tattoo.
  • Rubbing: Especially during the peeling phase of your tattoo, avoid rubbing the area as it will mess up the healing process and possibly even your tattoo.

It is best to avoid any form of irritation to your tattoo. However, if the itching is unbearable, you can try gently patting the tattoo with clean hands or moisturizing the tattoo to soothe the sensation.

What Happens When You Touch A Fresh Tattoo?

Unnecessarily and unsafely touching your tattoo can lead to a few less than ideal situations.

  • Infection

It’s no secret that hands are covered in germs, and fresh tattoos are open wounds – the prime conditions for nursing an infection. The most common skin infection when it comes to fresh tattoos is a Staph aureus infection, occurring due to a secondary infection to the wound. This causes a weeping, blistered, or pustular rash or a painful abscess.

Don’t let anyone touch your fresh tattoo as they’re admiring your new ink; this includes yourself. Many seem to forget that fresh tattoos are open wounds; you wouldn’t let anyone come near a big cut without thoroughly sanitizing and disinfecting their hands first; treat your fresh tattoos the same. The same goes for any pets and animals that may come into contact with the area.

Needless to say, hands off the tattoo unless you’re willing to face some serious problems. The most effective way to protect yourself from infection is to limit the amount of contact with the area while it is healing.

If you see anything worrying on or around your tattoo, contact the artist and a doctor to assess if you have an infection and how you can treat it.

  • Messing Up the Tattoo

Meddling with your tattoo outside of your aftercare regime is generally a bad idea. Outside of aftercare, the tattoo requires to heal properly; it needs just as much space to breathe and heal on its own.

Scratching, rubbing, peeling, and slapping a fresh tattoo are all examples of how touching your tattoo can completely mess up the piece. From blowing out the lines to taking out spots of ink, deforming the tattoo, or dulling the color, a simple touch can cause you and your tattoo artist quite the headache.

While it’s normal for well-healed tattoos to need a touch-up because a part of the skin didn’t take to the ink or several other reasons, a tattoo that has been played within the healing process is going to need some extra attention.


While you technically can touch a fresh tattoo, it is advised against unless you literally just washed your hands. Many germs live on your hands, and a tattoo is an open wound vulnerable to infection. Thus, unnecessarily touching your tattoo can significantly interfere with the healing process.


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