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Can You Play Sports After Getting A Tattoo? (Explained)

Can You Play Sports After Getting A Tattoo

If you are someone who enjoys sports a lot, you might be wondering if you can play sports after getting a new tattoo.

The short answer is that it depends on the sport and the location of the tattoo. It’s crucial to steer clear of any sport that may lead to excessive sweating, rubbing or friction on the tattooed part after getting a tattoo.

This is because the skin requires ample time to heal and any sort of damage caused to that area could mess up the tattoo.

That being said, there are some sports that should be avoided for a longer period of time after getting a tattoo. For example, contact sports like football, rugby, or basketball can cause the tattoo to become irritated or damaged.

Once it’s all healed – you can pretty much play any sport you want without any problems.

In this post, I’ll go over the risks of playing sports after getting a tattoo and I’ll give you a quick rundown of the sports you should definitely avoid and sports that are ok to play.  

Main Takeaways

tennis after tattoo
  • It is generally recommended to wait at least 2 weeks after getting a tattoo before participating in sports or other physical activities.
  • Sweating and friction caused by clothing or sports equipment may irritate the tattoo and slow down the healing process.
  • Swimming should be avoided for at least 2-3 weeks after getting a tattoo to prevent infection.
  • Contact sports, such as football or basketball and extreme sports like snowboarding should be avoided until the tattoo is fully healed to prevent damage to the area. 
  • Sun exposure can also be harmful to a new tattoo, so it is important to keep it covered and use sunscreen when participating in outdoor sports. 

Also Read: Can I Go To A Party After Getting A Tattoo

Risks Of Playing Sports After Getting A Tattoo

Playing sports with a new tattoo can be risky, because your wound is still healing and vulnerable. Let’s go over some of the risks of playing sports before your tattoo heals properly:


Infections are one of main risks. Playing sports can expose your tattoo (a wound) to dirt, bacteria and other germs which can lead to infections.

This is especially true if you play outdoor or contact sports. Plus, you are going to sweat a lot which also has microbes. 

Moreover, you might touch your tattoo with dirty hands or contaminated equipment which also allows germs to enter your wound.

Infections cause redness, swelling and pain and in some cases, it can lead to permanent damage or scarring.

Quick tip to reduce swelling: Ice your tattoo

Delay Healing

Playing sports can slow down the healing process of your skin in several ways. First off, infections we talked about increase healing time.

Rubbing or bumping your tattoo can cause the scabs or peeling skin to come off prematurely, exposing the raw skin underneath to further damage or infection.

Some sports require you to wear tight or restrictive clothing or gear, which can prevent your tattoo from breathing or receiving enough blood flow to heal properly.

Bruising And Bleeding

Sports like football, basketball, MMA or wrestling involve a lot of physical contact with other players, equipment, or surfaces.

These impacts can cause trauma to your tattooed area, leading to bleeding, bruising, or even hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin).

Bruising And Bleeding

These injuries can distort your tattoo lines or cause discoloration, especially if they occur during the healing period.

Tattoo Fading

If you are playing outdoors, your tattoo is going to get exposed to the sun.

While sunlight helps the healing process, direct sunlight and UV rays can cause tattoo fading and scaring. 

Allergic Reactions

Some people might have allergic reactions to the materials used in sports gear or clothing, such as latex, neoprene, or synthetic fabrics. 

These materials can cause contact dermatitis, a type of skin inflammation characterized by itching, redness, or rash.

Types of Sports to Avoid After Getting a Tattoo

After getting a tattoo, it is important to avoid certain types of sports to ensure proper healing and prevent damage to the tattoo. Here are some sports to avoid:

Contact Sports

Sports like football, rugby, hockey, wrestling, lacrosse, boxing and martial arts should be avoided until your tattoo is healed.

These sports involve a lot of physical contact with other players, equipment, or surfaces and you run the risk of damaging your tattoo (bleeding, scarring etc..) and infections.

Plus, you are going to sweat a lot which can also lead to infections.

Outdoor Sports

Outdoor sports like basketball, tennis, and volleyball should also be avoided.

Outdoor Sports

These sports can cause the tattoo to rub against clothing, which can damage the tattoo, and excessive sweating can increase the risk of infection.

And if your tattoo isn’t covered, it’s going to be exposed to direct sunlight, which can cause the tattoo to fade. There is also a chance of accidents or falls that can damage your tattoo.

Extreme Sports

This should be a no-brainer. Extreme sports like skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, and BMX should be avoided until the tattoo is fully healed. 

These sports involve a lot of physical activity and you will sweat a lot, and friction from protective gear can irritate the tattoo. 

And there’s the risk of trauma to the tattooed area from falls or impacts.

Plus, exposing your new tattoo to extreme temperatures or weather conditions can affect the healing process.

Water Sports

Swimming, diving, surfing, and other water sports must be avoided at all costs. There’s a very high risk of infection from the bacteria and other microorganisms in the water.

Read more about this on: Can you swim with a new tattoo

Plus, chlorine in swimming pools can irritate the tattoo. And water can soften the scabs or peeling skin on the tattoo.

water sports after tattoo

How Long Should You Wait Before Playing Sports?

You need to consider the tattoo’s location, type of sport and the amount of sweat involved before returning to sports or exercise after getting a tattoo. 

For example, if the tattoo is in a spot that often comes into contact with clothing, equipment or other people, like the arms or legs, it’s necessary to wait until it is fully healed before engaging in sports or exercise.

Also, if the activity involves a lot of sweating, such as running, jumping, dancing or lifting, it may be best to avoid it.

But for sports like Golf, Bowling or even Foosball that won’t make you sweat a lot or stretch the tattoo, it should be ok to play in a few days after a tattoo.

Still make sure your tattoo won’t rub on your clothes.

Pro Tip: Always talk to your tattoo artist and dermatologist before doing physical activities after getting a tattoo. This ensures proper healing and minimal risk of infection and damage.

Bottom Line

Playing sports with a new tattoo is super risky, as the tattooed area is still healing and vulnerable. I don’t recommend doing any contact, outdoor, water or extreme sports until it’s fully healed.

Indoor sports and board games should be okay unless it makes you sweat a lot.

I understand the desire to get back to physical activity as soon as possible but it is important to prioritize the healing process to ensure it looks its best in the years to come.

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