Lesson learned: don’t get a tattoo in another country.

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While I was in Toronto a few weeks ago, I got a new tattoo from a highly recommended tattoo artist.

I was totally in love with it, I thought that my artist did a great job with the exception of a tiny little bleeding at the edge of birdie #1’s wing. Fine. I can live with that – super easy to touch up and my artist at home would probably do it for me for free once it healed. He also offered to touch it up when I return to Toronto, but who knows when that will happen?

Then…the healing phase. Or rather, the NOT-FREAKING-HEALING-PROPERLY phase. I am no stranger to tattoos and how to care for them during the healing process. I have a frickin’ foot wide phoenix across my back – I just got it last year!

It healed without incident, not one scab, not one scar. However, I have begun to notice recently that the foot in the center of the phoenix looks like a penis. Thanks, hubs, for pointing that out a year AFTER I got the tattoo.

So when my artist told me to let it dry out for two days and then start putting moisturizer on it, I said “okay” but really, inside my head I was thinking, “Um, no, I will care for it properly so that it doesn’t get ruined, thank you very much.”

The joke was on me.

Normally, when my husband (who has 3 tattoos) or I get a tattoo, we keep a salve on it for a few days while it heals to prevent scarring. With the phoenix, I used A&D ointment. I forget what the hubs has used…

Anyhow, I didn’t actually have anything with me, so I mentioned that I was going to run to the convenience store and buy a small tube of salve for the tattoo. My friend kindly offered up her own that she had laying around her from last tattoo.

Unfortunately, the air was so much drier in Toronto than the weather that I am used to that I either a) didn’t use enough of the salve or b) it was just too dry, period. Every time I looked down at the tattoo, it was dry and puckered up. I slathered on the salve constantly, and it didn’t seem to stay moist at all…I would wake up in the morning with it completely dry and actually hurting from the skin drying up so tight! Then it began to scab.

So I cried a little. I admit it. This tattoo meant so much to me, and here I was, not able to properly care for it and it was literally – well, maybe not literally, but you get it – rotting before my eyes. At one point, it actually bled when something rubbed up against it.

It’s been two weeks and they are almost healed and the damage is devastating. All three birds have been ruined from the scarring.

The only saving grace in this whole ordeal is that my birdies are so small that it should be no problem having my home tattoo artist fix them up after they’re done healing.

Though, with my luck, he will probably want to turn them into a sleeve. Go big or go home, right?

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  1. Wookiesgirl says

    Hey hon. Just read this and showed to my hubby and tattoo artist @wookiestyle. Looks like you suffocated it with the ointment. As I mentioned briefly in my tweet, we stopped using ointment ten years ago. Only hypo allergenic or sensitive skin lotion. Also climate can play a small part but mostly you’re looking at a wrist tattoo right? A very hard place to heal. Always in motion so scabs would ultimately form anyway. Looks like it’s still healing. Here’s what we do. First 24hours I keep it wrapped in Saranwrap. This catches all the ooze. I do take it off and clean it then apply lotion and another sheet of Saran. 2nd day I wrap it over night. No sticking to the sheets. Everyday for the first week or more I do hot compresses in the shower. Hot as I can stand them. It hurts but it speeds healing. Lastly I only use lotion. Nothing else. My choice us Gold Bond fragrance free/sensitive skin. Works for me. I have so many tats I’ve lost count now but they all heal different depending on location. I have a flower on the center of my back that was the worst heal ever. Who knows why.

    Good luck with it.

    • says

      So…..you don’t recommend suffocating it with ointment, but you do recommend suffocating it with saran wrap? How does that make any sense? I’m a real tattoo artist, and what we ACTUALLY do, is put an absorbant bandage on it for THRITY minutes! After that, remove your bandage and NEVER cover it again. This ensures that it is not suffocated by anything. Like any open wound, it needs to breathe to heal properly. Once your bandage is removed, wash the tattoo gently with a liquid anti-bacterial soap and luke warm water. Once cleaned, pat the tattoo dry, never wipe it dry and wait 5 to 10 minutes to make sure it is nice and dry. After all the water has evaporated, APPLY OINTMENT LIGHTLY! Ointment IS recommended, The ointment you want to use is Aquaphor by Eucerin. That’s it. Lightly apply that 3-5 times daily for the first 3-5 days. After that THEN switch to a fragrance, dye, and aloe free lotion,. Generally anything that says hypoallergenic formula works great. That, you can use up to 7 times daily and not harm your tattoo. Do that for about 2 more weeks (making sure that you keep your tattoo clean throughout the day). Also it needs to be noted that you do not want to soak the area. Whether it be doing dishes, or bathing. Make sure that you are not submerging your tattoo and letting it soak. I hope that this helps! Disregard ANYTHING said by “Wookiesgirl” please.

      • says

        Thank you for your advice – the tattoo artist actually told me to just keep it covered until I got back to my friend’s house. I didn’t leave it on all day :)

  2. says

    Man, I’m sorry the tattoo didn’t work out. Hopefully your artist at home will be able to do something because it really is a great concept. My husband always puts bacitracin on his and other than some itching he had with one of them, no other problems. He got all of his in Colorado and it’s pretty dry there so I’m not sure why getting a tattoo in Canada would be any different. :(

  3. says

    Aww! I hope you can get them fixed because they make a beautiful tattoo! I have spots on my tattoo that need touching up because they scabbed & the color left when the scabs fell off but I’m such a chicken I haven’t gone back. So make sure you do! :)

  4. John says

    Not sure if you will see this comment, was a few years ago.
    Im a tattoo artist and none of the tattoos on me or the people i’ve tattooed have had that kind of scabbing.
    I’d think its been an infection, if you have to much ointment it wont look like that, it would just become soft and the ink wont stay in as well, scabbs fall of to early.
    Im sure you can visit your local tattoo artist, been 3 years now so guess you allready have talked to them?
    I’d appreciate it if you could answer this and tell me if you fixed it or got any info from you artist. Always good to know how things worked out!
    Hope it did work out well!

    Best Regards

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