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Question of the Week: New Tattoo & Swimming

By July 17, 2005

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Q: I am an avid swimmer, but I have intentions of getting a tattoo tommorow. After I get the tattoo, how long should I wait before I can swim in our local pool again? I am just worried about the bleach and other chemicals bothering it. But if I cover it up would it be okay?

A: You're right to be concerned about the effects of chlorine and chemicals on a new tattoo. However, I'm not sure what you are thinking to cover your tattoo with that would prevent it being exposed to these elements. A bandage will still get saturated with the chemically treated water. You also don't want to put anything on the new tattoo that would prevent it from being able to breathe and heal - like liquid bandaid, as was discussed last week.
Tattoos should be allowed to heal for a minimum of 2 week - until all flaking and peeling is finished and all scabs have fallen off. Even then, you're taking a risk getting in a highly chlorinated pool, especially if you stay for an extended period of time. A tattoo is not considered fully healed until a new layer of protective skin has grown over it - this process usually takes about 3 months. Until then, your tattoo is most vulnerable to all elements - sun, chemicals, pollution, etc. This is why getting a tattoo during the summer is not recommended, especially for swimmers and beach bunnies! If you've already got the tattoo, all I can really recommend now is stay out of the pool for at least 2 weeks and then keep your swimming to a minimum if you absolutely must go. If you can hold out for the full 3 month perdiod, you'll be doing your new tattoo a great service and I guarantee that it will have been worth the sacrifice.


April 8, 2008 at 4:45 pm
(1) Sarah-Michelle says:

Is fading a risk in chlorine even after the three months? I got my tattoo in september and maybe I am just being paranoid but I want to be sure that I won’t end up wrecking it by swimming.

March 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm
(2) Chris says:

I’ve got 5 tattoos and am an avid swimmer. I stay out of the pool for 2 weeks or until it has healed over, which ever is the longer. After that I’ve not had any dramas.

April 20, 2009 at 11:17 pm
(3) Dean says:

Well what a about teggaderm its a silicon bandage that i once had for and intense knee wound ( obviously im not going to be using the same one) but wouldnt that work if swimming was unavoidable.

May 24, 2009 at 6:20 am
(4) Jessica says:

Does someone have an answer for Dean’s question?

I already have two tattoos and i want to get a third one, approx 17cm high and 11cm wide, however, i’m a swimming teacher who works 5 days a week anywhere between 2-5 hours a day, so its hard for me to avoid the water completely for 2 weeks… do I have any options other then to wait?

October 19, 2009 at 4:08 pm
(5) chad says:

I have heard that vasaline is a bad thing to put on a tattoo to protect it from chlorinated pools, but what about something like a water proof sun screen? The idea being that it will repell the water and the chlorine temporarily. Any experts on lotions out there who can speak to this?

April 12, 2010 at 8:55 am
(6) james stenning says:

it might sound dumb in retrospect but last tuesday i got a tattoo and on saturday i went in the pool and then my tattoo artist told me about chlorine just want to know what is likely to happen

April 28, 2010 at 5:01 am
(7) Jon says:

I just wanted to say thx to all of u.i read all ur ideas and thoughts about tattoos and pools.i got a tat and didnt swim,but i just got another 4 days ago and i live in arizona where its sooo hot lol.wanna swim but i will probably wait til the tat smooths out and i see the new layer over it.i dont wanna risk it cause if u think about it,if u cant wait for a little while to go swim thats fine but u will have to deal with a ugly messed up tattoo FOR THE REST OF UR LIFE.so ya u guys made it clear to me lol no swimming

September 18, 2010 at 4:03 pm
(8) Brittany says:

I got a tattoo in April. It’s now September and I really want to go swimming. It’s been about four months, so I’m glad that I can go swimming, after all. I’m so glad that I found this article to tell me that I can. Thanks for the info!

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