Hiking After Getting A Tattoo – How Long To Wait?

Getting a new tattoo can be a very exciting thing. Now I’m sure you can’t wait to go hike with your friends and show it off!

But, is it safe? Let’s look into the risks that you should be aware of while hiking with new ink.

Tattoo on arm

How Long Should You Wait Before Hiking After Getting a Tattoo?

There are a few important reasons why you should at least 1 to 2 weeks before hiking after receiving a new tattoo. During hiking there are risks that could damage your tattoo ink including sweating, getting sun-burnt, and having dirt or other materials rub against your skin.

The best option is to wait until the tattoo if fully healed before doing any intense activity like hiking!

Tattoo Stages Of Healing

If this isn’t your first tattoo then you know how important the healing process is. Tattoo care is important to prevent infection and so that your new ink doesn’t get scratched or rubbed. Hiking the first few days after your tattoo would put you into the first phase of the healing process, where you’re most likely to cause damage to the tattoo.

There are three stages that all tattoos go through during the healing phase.

  1. Days 1-6: The area of your tattoo will be irritated during these first few days. The tattoo might swell up or ooze on certain spots. Each day should be noticeably better than the last during these five days.
  2. Days 7-14: This phase is where some scabbing may occur. The scabs will form over any irritated area on the tattoo and will eventually start to peel and fall off.
  3. Days 15-30: The outside area of the tattoo should now be completely healed. However, the lower layer of skin may still be going through the healing process.
Lotion to help moisturize, heal, and make your tattoo look healthier while it’s in the healing phase.

Reasons Not To Hike With A New Tattoo

1. Your stamina may be lower.

While going through the healing process you might not have the same levels of energy. Going for a long hike or run may leave you feeling worse and struggling to feel energized enough.

2. You may expose the tattoo to the sun.

During the first few days, your tattoo should not be in the direct sun. The UV rays are the most damaging thing that can happen to a fresh tattoo. The sun will cause the ink to lose its shape and color over time.

3. Exercising could stretch the skin around the tattoo.

The area around your tattoo will be raw and tight for a few days. Doing anything that stretches the skin where your tattoo is could cause the ink to spread and get misshapen. This means you might not end up with the exact tattoo shape that you first had.

4. Dirt & bacteria could cause an infection.

An infection is the biggest thing to worry about with new tattoos. The area of skin is exposed so it’s not tough for germs and bacteria to affect the skin. It’s important to maintain proper care, keep the area clean and dry, during the first stage of healing.

5. Sweat is bad for a new tattoo.

We already know it’s important to keep the area clean and dry, but if you’re sweating during a hike that will be hard to do. Having sweat build up on the tattoo could cause the same issues as having it in contact with water.

6. Clothing can rub against the rough skin.

This is where it gets tough. Depending on where your tattoo is it’s difficult to both protect it from the sun and not have clothes run against it. It is recommended to not have tight clothes covering the area during the first few days. If you do then the clothes may rub against the tattoo, causing discomfort and color loss.

7. Difficult to properly protect the tattoo.

Another thing to worry about while a new tattoo is healing is water. How would you protect it if you’re out hiking while a thunderstorm starts? Make sure you have some type of cover such as an umbrella or cloth to keep the area dry from the rain.

Sunrise at dawn near mountain

How To Protect Your Tattoo While Hiking

If you are planning on going hiking after getting a tattoo, this is a list of helpful tips to protect your tattoo while hiking.

1. Keep it clean and dry.

Having a wrap for the tattoo can help in those times where it may get dirty. If the area does come into contact, you’ll want to have some soap and clean water to wash off the area. You don’t want to keep the area wrapped for too long as the tattoo needs to breathe, but it should be fine during a quick hike.

2. Hide it from direct sun.

Have loose clothing that will make it so the tattoo is hidden away from the sun. This is one of the easier ways to mess up a new tattoo so make sure it isn’t sneaking out and visible to the sun.

3. Maintain proper care while hiking.

Even if you’re away from home you need to maintain the proper care recommended by your tattoo artist. Keep the area washed and clean, as well as apply the cream as you normally would at home.

4. Wear loose clothing.

For the first few days avoid wearing any skin-tight hiking clothes. A loose shirt or cover will protect from bacteria, water, the sun, as well as prevent against rubbing on the raw skin.

For new and existing tattoos, helps to enhance and maintain your ink while keeping the skin healthy.

Final Thoughts

Can you hike after getting a new tattoo? After looking at the risks above we don’t recommend it. If you feel that you can be safe while hiking, you may be fine escaping any damage. For me, I think I’d be extra safe and wait a few extra days(especially with how expensive tattoos can be)!

If you still aren’t sure whether it’s safe to hike or not, your tattoo artist should have some sound advice to listen to. They don’t want it to get infected so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind answering any questions you might have.

Stay safe, enjoy your new tattoo, and enjoy any future hikes!