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How to help the swelling after a tattoo

Updated February 21, 2017

The trauma of a tattoo artist's tools on your skin sometimes results in the swelling of the area after the tattoo has made its mark, especially if the tattoo is located on your feet, ankles or forearm. Minor inflammation and redness after the completion of a fresh tattoo lasting one to three days isn't uncommon. Fortunately, you can tackle the issue with common household products you have at home.

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  1. Wrap a commercial ice pack in a thin cotton cloth, or fill a plastic zip-type bag with ice cubes and wrap it in a thin cotton cloth. The ice pack should not come into direct contact with your skin or tissue damage could result.

  2. Hold the ice on the tattooed area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before removing the ice pack.

  3. Wait at least 15 minutes in between ice application sessions. Repeat as needed for the first 24 hours to combat swelling.

  4. Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin as directed by the product instructions. Do not take aspirin if you are under 20 years of age, unless recommended by a medical doctor, according to Web MD.

  5. Elevate your legs to alleviate swelling if you have a foot or leg tattoo. Sit in a recliner or prop your feet up with pillows while on a bed.

  6. Warning

    See a doctor immediately if you experience an increase in swelling or pain at or around the tattoo site, as well as pus, fever or red streaks on your skin near the area.

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Things You'll Need

  • Ice pack or zipper bag
  • Thin cotton cloth
  • Timer
  • Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or aspirin

About the Author

Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

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