Having tattooed for the last 25 years, I’ve seen my fair share of tattoos that have healed badly due to the client simply sleeping in their bed. Usually these tattoos have incurred most of the damage, infection and hard healing from when the client sleeps with their fresh, new tattoo with unseen dangerous elements lurking in their bed. Sleeping is definitely one of the greatest moments during a new tattoo collector’s day to do the most damage to their new artwork. When people sleep, they are for the most part completely unaware of pain or minor discomforts, allowing them to be completely unaware of their new tattoo sticking to sheets, seeping onto the sheets and exposing their skin to possible other irritations to the new tattoo. Some of the most common issues while sleeping with a new tattoo is simply sticking to bedsheets, but it’s what’s on those bedsheets that matters during the healing process.
Sleep has a profound effect on our mental, emotional and physical well being! Sleep is the time the body can undergo repair and detoxification, although it can also be a determining factor in healing up well or not so well. Poor sleep patterns are linked to poor health and slow healing. Those who sleep less than six hours a night have a shorter life expectancy than those who sleep longer and naturally tend to heal slower. Getting enough sleep can also help resist infection, as some studies of healthy young adults have shown that moderate amounts of sleep deprivation reduce the levels of white blood cells which form part of the body’s defense system, preventing the tattoo from healing quickly.
There are many dangers to a new tattoo that your bed presents nightly. On average, most people don’t wash their bed sheets and pillows often enough, providing the perfect environment for dead skin cells to breed, potential infection or cellulitis to begin in a fresh tattoo. Another aspect is that most people don’t consistently shower or wash their hair before they go to bed, possibly having sweat or having been exposed to multiple situations during the day. People also can have their pets or animals sleeping next to them every night which undoubtedly brings animal fur, dander and the often overlooked feces that are on animal paws from the ground or backyard in general, which is simply horrible news for a fresh tattoo. Animal fur and dander can cause cellulitis which in worse than just a mild infection. Dander is an informal term for a material shed from the body of humans and animals, similar to dandruff. It is composed of skin cells which can be a major cause of allergies and skin infections in humans. Cellulitis is a common skin infection that happens when bacteria spread through the skin to deeper tissues. It is caused by bacteria, most often strep or staph and a cellulitis infected area will be warm, red, swollen, and tender and usually needs extra attention and antibiotics to help the tattoo heal properly. Animal and human dander are typically the biggest problems with cellulitis or skin infections in fresh tattoos.
Some tips to help avoid an infection in your new tattoo while sleeping in your bed is to first be sure to wash your sheets before you get any new tattoo. Always wash your tattoo off before bed and immediately when you awake, this will help eliminate any infectious materials that you’ve collected on your skin throughout the day before resting for 6-8 hours. Covering your new tattoo with a breathable, non-stick wrapping right before you lay down is an excellent way to help prevent infection from the beginning, it not only protects your new tattoo from sticking to your clothing or bed sheets, it also creates a barrier between you and your bed and helps keep potentially dangerous elements in the bed off of the new tattoo while the pores in the new tattoo seal up and stop seeping plasma. Remember to always wash the tattoo off and allow it dry with no lotion, etc before wrapping it at night. Wearing a protective piece of loose, breathable clothing also helps create another barrier between your new tattoo and infectious bed elements. Be sure to sleep on the non-tattooed side of your body, A pillow works great to adjust and hold your body part in a position that’s comfortable. Try to keep the body part somewhat elevated above the heart to reduce pressure and swelling on the new tattoo. Always wake up, remove wrapping and wash immediately with anti-bacterial foam wash when you wake up.
The most crucial time for a tattoo to begin the healing process is within the first five days, these are the days when a new tattoo is at the highest risk for an infection from everyday situations. After the first few days of wrapping or being very clean and safe while sleeping with your new tattoo, you can go about your normal routine of antibacterial soap, bactine, non-scented lotions or ointments depending on how you normally heal your tattoos. I personally like to mist my new tattoo with Bactine, it helps the body to heal while it’s trying to do two things. One is to fight any oncoming infection, the second thing is to simply heal and repair the tissue. The Bactine simply reduces your bodies need to dedicate white blood cells to fight infection and allows it to focus more on actually healing. Remember, the first days of how you take care of your new tattoo will determine the healing process and ultimately it’s final look!