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How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming

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How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming

Planning on hitting the beach or pool this summer with your brand new tattoo? Or maybe you’re an avid swimmer with a tattoo that’s just healed but want to be on the safe side and want to learn how to waterproof a tattoo for swimming?

Either way, this post is for you! But unfortunately, it’s not going to be good news. 

It is IMPOSSIBLE to effectively waterproof a tattoo. You could try wearing a waterproof bandage over it but there’s a good chance that water will get inside after you start moving around and swimming.    

In this post, I’ll talk about why you shouldn’t go swimming with a tattoo and the dangers associated with it, when it’s safe to swim with a tattoo and finally, if swimming is unavoidable I’ll give you some tips to minimize the risks and protect your tattoo while swimming

Table of Contents

Why Can’t You Swim With a Tattoo?

There are many reasons why you shouldn’t swim with a new tattoo. A fresh tattoo is a wound, and you need to treat it as such. That means keeping it clean and safe from germs.

When you go swimming either in a pool or sea (or even a lake) there are thousands of bacteria, viruses, and all other kinds of microbes in the water! When your tattoo is submerged in water, it can introduce bacteria into your skin, which has a VERY HIGH CHANCE of causing an infection.

Almost every swimming pool has chlorine in the water and chlorine in particular is known to be bad for tattoos. Chlorine is a harsh chemical that can irritate, and swelling, and even fade your tattoo and increase the time needed for the wound to heal.

If you go swimming in the sea, salt water can dry out your skin, which can cause your tattoo to crack and peel and will also take more time to heal.

Additionally, If you spend too much time in the sun, your tattoo will start to fade as direct sunlight is not good for tattoos. This is especially true for new tattoos because the ink is still fresh and hasn’t properly healed.

If you swim with a new tattoo, it will always turn out bad. You will most probably get infected and your tattoo will be ruined. And it will cost you money too. You will have to spend a lot of medicine and tattoo touch-ups. 

Why Can’t You Swim With a Tattoo

How To Waterproof A Tattoo For Swimming?

If swimming is unavoidable, it’s important to at least try waterproofing it before you go swimming. But keep in mind it’s never going to be 100% waterproof and all the risks we talked about earlier are possible but the chances of that happening are a bit reduced. 

So there are a few different ways you can try to waterproof a tattoo for swimming, but one of the most effective methods is to cover your tattoo with a waterproof bandage like tegaderm or sidearm. 

Some people claim that petroleum jelly products are also worth using for extra protection but I highly recommend you not do that as they are harmful to tattoos in their own way which we have extensively covered in the tattoo aftercare section.

Cover The Tattoo

Your best bet is to wrap the tattoo with a waterproof bandage. It’s super important that you wrap it  RIGHT BEFORE you take the swim, don’t cover it up before. 

wrap the tattoo with a waterproof bandage

Instead of saniderm, try tegaderm as it’s better than saniderm. Make sure the dressing is completely sealed all around and it might just last through the swim. But do keep in mind a lot of sweat will build up inside the dressing when you start swimming.

Related: How long to leave saniderm on tattoos.

Get Out ASAP

Get out of the water as fast as possible after swimming. Don’t stay in the water more than you need to because the chances of all the risks we talked about happening increases the more you stay in the water.

Clean the Tattoo After Swimming

It’s super important that you clean the tattoo after the swim. After you get out, pat (instead of wiping) your skin dry before you remove the waterproof bandage so that water will not drip from your skin into the tattoo.

Clean the Tattoo After Swimming

Afterward, you should wash your tattoo with some mild soap and warm water. Apply your favorite moisturizer afterward. 

How Long Before You Can Swim With a New Tattoo?

Once a tattoo is healed, it is technically safe to swim. It’s important to wait until your tattoo is completely healed before swimming or submerging it in water otherwise you risk the chance of an infection and ruining your tattoo. 

This usually takes around 2-5 weeks, but can sometimes take up to 8 weeks depending on how fast your skin heals.

Also read: Can I Use O’Keeffe’s On My Tattoo?

How do you know it’s completely healed? If the tattoo is no longer itchy and if there’s no more scabbing and flaking, your tattoo is healed and it’s safe to swim!

Key Takeaways Of Waterproofing A Tattoo

Here are the main points you should focus on when learning how to waterproof a tattoo: 

How Long Before You Can Swim With a New Tattoo
  • Cover your tattoo with a waterproof adhesive bandage before swimming. This will offer at least some protection to your tattoo from the water and also keep out any bacteria that could cause an infection.
  • Get out of the water as soon as possible, the more time you stay, the more riskier it gets.
  • If possible, try to avoid chlorinated water altogether. Chlorine can cause the colors in your tattoo to fade and can also dry out your skin, leading to irritation. If you must swim in chlorinated water, be sure to rinse off afterward with fresh water and apply a moisturizer to keep your skin hydrated.
  • Salt water is good for healing tattoos, but it can be very drying. Again, be sure to rinse off afterward and apply a moisturizer.
  • If you’re swimming in a lake or river, beware of any potential bacteria that could cause an infection. If possible, cover the tattoo with a waterproof bandage before swimming.


Swimming with a tattoo is a bad idea and puts you at risk for infection and there’s a good chance it will ruin your tattoo and cost you a lot in touch-ups. If you must swim and don’t have any option, follow the tips we’ve outlined in this article, it will at least offer some protection to your tattoo while swimming. 

Good Luck and sorry we didn’t have any better news for you guys.

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