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Can You Ice A Tattoo? (Expert Guide)

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Can You Ice A Tattoo

If you just got a new tattoo and are looking for ways to soothe the pain and swelling, you might be wondering if you can ice a tattoo.

While there are varying opinions on the matter, the short answer is yes, you can ice a tattoo.

Icing a tattoo can help reduce swelling and inflammation, which is pretty common in new tattoos. Plus, it can also help soothe discomfort and relieve itching.

However, there are some important things to keep in mind when you ice a tattoo – which I’ll talk about in this post.

I’ll go over the benefits of icing a tattoo, how to ice a tattoo along with the DO’s and Don’ts.

The Benefits Of Icing A Tattoo

There are a number of benefits of icing a new tattoo, let’s go over some of these in detail:

Also Read: Can you go clubbing after getting a tattoo?

Benefits Of Icing A Tattoo

Reduces Swelling

Swelling is the body’s natural response to trauma, which includes sending fluids and white blood cells to the area to help it heal.

While this is a necessary part of the healing process, it can cause pain and discomfort.

When you ice a tattoo, it constricts blood vessels and reduces the amount of fluid that accumulates. This, in turn, can help minimize swelling and inflammation.

Plus, it helps with the healing process in other ways. When the skin is swollen, it can be more difficult for the body to transport essential nutrients to the area, which can slow down healing.

By reducing swelling, you can help ensure that your skin is getting the nutrients it needs to heal properly.

Pain Relief

Icing the area can help to numb the pain and provide relief. Ice makes the blood vessels in the area constrict, which reduces swelling and pain.

Ice Reduces Tattoo Weeping

While weeping fluids (plasma) is a normal part of the healing process, excessive weeping can slow down healing and cause scabbing.

Applying an ice pack can help reduce weeping and promote faster healing by constricting the blood vessels in the affected area.

Also Read: How long can you leave Tegaderm on a tattoo?

Reduces itching

As a new tattoo heals, it can become itchy. Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce itching and provide relief.

Pain Relief

Icing A New Tattoo Reduces Bruising

When a tattoo needle punctures the skin, it can cause tiny blood vessels to rupture, which leads to bruising.

Applying ice to the area can help constrict these blood vessels and reduce blood flow to the area, which can help prevent bruising.

Risks Of Icing A New Tattoo

Now if you don’t do it properly, there can be complications. Let’s go over the risks that come with icing a new tattoo:


Applying the ice pack on a new tattoo (or anywhere in your skin) for too long can actually be harmful, as it can cause tissue damage.

And this slows down the healing process.

Icing a new tattoo can temporarily reduce blood flow to the area, and doing it for too long can again slow down the healing time.


If you are making the cold compress at home, there’s a chance it can be contaminated from the bacteria in your fridge.

How To Ice A New Tattoo Safely

Word of advice before we get started – it’s super important to avoid applying ice directly to the tattooed area. This can cause damage to the skin and potentially ruin the tattoo.

How To Ice A New Tattoo Safely

Instead we are going to wrap the ice pack in a washcloth before applying it. Let’s take a look at how to make a cold compress for the tattoo.

How To Make A Cold Compress At Home

  • Start by washing your hands. Then grab some ice cubes and put them in a plastic bag. Instead of ice, you can also wet a towel and put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  • Next, take a washcloth and wet it. It’s super important to avoid using a dry washcloth because it may stick to your tattoo.
  • After damping it, wrap it around the plastic bag.

Icing The Tattoo

Alright, take the cold compress you just made and put it on the tattoo. Keep it only for about 15-25 minutes at a time – do not over ice. If it’s still swollen, you can do it again after two hours.

Don’t keep the compress in the same place until it starts stinging.

After you are done, make sure to pat the area dry with something like a fresh towel. DO NOT rub the tattoo dry – otherwise it will cause further irritation.

You can apply an ointment or whatever moisturizer you are using for aftercare.

Also Read: Is Dermasil Good For Tattoos?

Bottom Line

Overall, icing is good for tattoos. But only do it if your tattoo is swollen.

Applying a cold compress can be especially helpful in reducing swelling and inflammation. Plus, it numbs the area and provides relief from any discomfort or pain.

But just be sure to follow the proper precautions and use common sense when applying ice to the skin. Icing the tattoo for too long can damage your skin and the tissues underneath and slow down the healing process.

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