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Aftercare & You: Requirements and Beyond

Instructions Required

Tattoo artists and body piercers are required to provide aftercare instructions, but the specific type of aftercare is limited to the following requirements:
Aftercare shall consist of both verbal and written instructions concerning proper care of the tattooed skin. Instructions shall specify:
  • Care following service 
  • Possible side affects 
  • Restrictions
While we provide general aftercare guidance below, be sure to follow the specific aftercare instructions provided to you by your practitioner. 
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Aftercare Tips: In General

The following aftercare tips are recommendations based on guidelines from the Association of Professional Piercers and external review by Oregon practitioners. These tips are also highlighted in the Piercing Thoughts: Aftercare brochure.
  • Always thoroughly wash your hands with soap before touching affected area. 
  • Wash affected area at least twice a day with soap (preferably liquid soap). 
  • Rinse affected area with a saline (salt and water) solution once or twice a day. 
  • Do not use rubbing alcohol or peroxide on the affected area. 
  • Until affected area heals, avoid hot tubs, swimming or taking hot baths
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For Tattoos

  • Keep the new tattoo covered with a bandage for 1-3 hours, or as recommended by your tattoo artist. 
  • Wet the bandage before carefully removing it from the affected area. 
  • Don’t put a new bandage on the tattoo after taking off the old one. 
  • Wash and rinse (don’t soak or submerge), then pat dry with a clean paper towel. 
  • Apply a light coat of ointment (not antibacterial) to keep tattoo from drying. 
  • Within 7-10 days, your tattoo should stop feeling tender. 
  • Avoid exposure to direct sunlight for at least four weeks.
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For Piercings

Body Piercing  
  • Don’t use antibacterial ointments, which may trap bacteria after the ointment wears off. 
  • For ear piercings, clean and disinfect anything that may touch your ear, such as a cell phone or eye/sun glasses. 
  • For tongue, lip and cheek piercings, rinse frequently for 60 seconds with an alcohol-free mouthwash and between meals with a saline solution for 10-15 seconds. 
  • Piercings may seem healed before healing is complete because they heal from the outside in.  Be patient!

Average Healing Times for Piercings
  • Ear lobe—6 to 8 weeks 
  • Ear cartilage—4 months to 1 year 
  • Eyebrow—6 to 8 weeks 
  • Nostril—2 to 4 months 
  • Nasal septum—6 to 8 weeks 
  • Nasal bridge—8 to 10 weeks 
  • Tongue—4 weeks 
  • Lip—2 to 3 months 
  • Nipple—3 to 6 months 
  • Navel—4 months to 1 year
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Refer Back to Practitioner

Again, we can provide only general recommendations for aftercare procedures, while your practitioner must provide you with instructions specifically tailored for your piercing or tattoo.
If you have questions regarding aftercare, contact your practitioner. For more information on aftercare, see the links below. 
If you still have questions or concerns, contact the Oregon Health Licensing Agency (OHLA) at 503-378-8667 or ohla.info@state.or.us.
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Web Resources

OHLA does not necessarily endorse the following sites but believes them to be helpful to consumers.  Be sure to check with the tattoo artist or body piercer from whom you received a tattoo or piercing before trying any product or method for aftercare and beyond.
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What's Working for You?

We want to hear from practitioners and the public about the latest aftercare procedures and products that are working the most effectively. 
Please call 503-378-8667 or e-mail ohla.info@state.or.us​ to let us know what's working for you, and what isn't working, so we can provide this information as a public service. 
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